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The TV Series Shouldn't Be Forgotten

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The beloved satirical slasher franchise Scream has had an interesting release history. The original three films all released rather close to one another, hitting the big screen in 1996, 1997 and 2000, respectively. It would then be an entire decade before Scream 4 released in theaters in 2011, and another before the legacy sequel Scream (henceforth referred to as scream 5) bowed in early 2022. With a sixth film scheduled for 2023, it’s become clear that new Scream movies are no longer going to be a once-in-a-decade occurrence — the series is well and truly back. That said, the 11-year gap between Scream 4 and scream 5 wasn’t exactly devoid of new content.

In 2015, Scream: The TV Series premiered on MTV to much fanfare. A second season arrived on the network in 2016, with the show eventually moving to VH1 for a standalone third season in 2019. Now that Scream is officially a cinematic franchise once again, the television show seems destined to go the way of Friday the 13th: The Series gold Freddy’s Nightmares: being relegated to little more than a footnote in its franchise’s overall legacy. This would be a screaming shame, as despite some of its shortcomings, Scream: The TV Series is more than worthy of its name.

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Scream: The TV Series Did Right by the Franchise

MTV’s Scream admittedly got off to an uneven start, but it was still very enjoyable. The show had an interesting premise, as well as the tongue-in-cheek satire the films were known for. The show also had a unique spin on Ghostface and introduced audiences to some fun new characters — with Willa Fitzgerald’s Emma Duval, Bex Taylor-Klaus’ Audrey Jensen, John Karna’s Noah Foster and Amadeus Serafini’s Kieran Wilcox being among the standouts. Admittedly, Scream‘s first season also suffered from pacing issues and being a little too predictable for its own good — problems that were especially apparent in the finale.

During its sophomore season, the show stepped up its game. Scream Season 2 did a fantastic job at trimming the fat, getting rid of what didn’t work and doubling down on what did. For starters, the weaker Season 1 characters were replaced by infinitely more interesting newcomers like Santiago Segura’s Gustavo “Stavo” Acosta and Sean Grandillo’s Eli Hudson. Moreover, whereas Season 1 suffered from being too predictable, Season 2 gave even the best Scream movies a run for their money as far as the whodunit aspect was concerned. This culminated in a truly excellent finale that even retroactively improved the underwhelming Season 1 finale.

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Simply put, Scream‘s second season proved that the franchise couldn’t just work on TV — it could thrive on TV. On top of that, a strong finale with a tantalizing cliffhanger and an incredibly fun two-part Halloween special were more than enough to whet fans’ appetites for Season 3. But this is where things get a bit strange.

While a third season of Scream was ordered, the decision was made not to continue the story of the MTV seasons. Rather, Season 3 would air on fellow Paramount-owned network VH1, feature an all-new cast and tell a completely separate story. titled Scream: Resurrectionthe third season was ultimately broadcast as a three-night event in mid-2019.

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Like MTV’s first season, VH1’s Resurrection was a mixed bag. As far as the positives go, it had a welcome diverse cast, a fresh setting and creative kills. The third season even brought back the original Ghostface design, complete with Roger L. Jackson doing the iconic voice. However, while the season’s story was intriguing in broad strokes, the actual writing and pacing were rather rough, with the finale being especially baffling in its execution. Still, while the MTV story was left unfinished, the idea of Scream as an anthology is very interesting indeed, and may even be worth revisiting one day.

From the very beginning, though, Scream: The TV Series was fighting an uphill battle in terms of being taken seriously as an entry in the franchise. Despite the rise of prestige TV proving that small-screen projects could be just as good as their big-screen counterparts, many still view TV as an inherently inferior form of entertainment to movies.

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Why Scream: The TV Series Ultimately Fell Off

It didn’t help matters that the show had virtually no connective tissue to the films that inspired it. Despite being largely cut from the same cloth — with similar satire, themes, motifs and even Jackson’s Ghostface in Resurrection‘s case — neither the MTV seasons, nor the VH1 version of Scream directly referenced the events of the movies. It was never even officially confirmed whether or not either iteration of the show took place in the same universe as the Scream movies, making it even harder for some to view them as true successors. Then, there’s the matter of the move to VH1 itself, which divided the fanbase.

When it came to light that Scream Season 3 would essentially be a reboot, many fans of the MTV seasons were upset that the story they had gotten invested in would not be continuing. Others, meanwhile, were just happy that a third season was finally coming out at all and were willing to give it a fair shot. Regardless of where viewers stand, it’s undeniable that the three-year gap between seasons did the show no favors. For all the fans who took sides, many others had simply gotten tired of waiting and moved on — a fact that was represented in Resurrection‘s lackluster ratings. Less than three years later, the Scream franchise made its return to the silver screen.

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As funny as it is to think about now, it truly felt like future of the Scream franchise lied on the small screen back in 2015. Scream 4 was already four years old and hadn’t really gone out of its way to set up a sequel to begin with. Similarly, the legacy sequel craze that scream 5 would eventually tackle hadn’t quite found a foothold in the horror genre yet. (That would arguably happen in 2018, with the release of David Gordon Green’s Halloween).

Furthermore, legendary horror director Wes Craven — who helmed the first four Scream movies — sadly passed away a mother two days before Scream: The TV Series aired its Season 1 finale on MTV. Not only did the horror world lose an icon, but Craven’s passing seemed to solidify the notion that Scream as a film series had ended. scream 5 directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett would eventually prove to be worthy successors to the maestro, but in 2015, the idea of ​​a new Scream feature film being made without Craven’s involvement bordered on sacrilege. It just goes to show that a mere few years can make all the difference.

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These days, mentioning Scream: The TV Series is most likely to get you a response of, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about it.” The show is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the movies. But considering the fact that the two iterations of the show kept the Scream franchise alive at a time when it wasn’t known if there’d ever be another big-screen entry, this seems more than a little unfair. The show may not have had the same cultural impact as the movies, but it still deserves a seat at the table for all it did right.