I have deeply mixed feelings. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the original TV series, one of my all-time favorites. So smart and funny and insightful and wonderfully acted. On the other hand -- as I think I wrote here a while back -- it had what I thought was the absolutely WORST series finale in the history of television, one that not only destroyed everything the program was about, but that was so horrible that it killed the show's reruns. Classic TV show reruns have exploded in recent years, some of the best seem like they're on throughout the day every day. And Mad About You was one of the more popular -- and on for seven years. And won a dozen Emmy Awards. Yet in the 20 years since it went off the air, you've never really seen it on TV. Every once in a while I'll notice an episode airing on a small local station, but that's it. Further, for a decade, only the first three seasons were released on DVD because sales were so poor. A couple other distributors picked up the rights, and little by little two more seasons got releases, but I still don't think the last two years have ever been released on DVD. And the reason, I'm near certain, is that that finale sucked the life out of the show for the audience. They loved the seven years that lead up to the finale -- but after the finale there was little "point" in watching it again, since it was a borderline lie.
The short version is that the series was about the marriage between two very distinct personalities who sometimes infuriating the other, but underneath it all we knew -- knew -- they were passionate about each other, mad about each other. Hey, that's what they called the series. Mad About You. And that overwhelming love gave them the joyous sails for the adventure of their lives. And in the finale, that looked at their life ahead 22 years, they got divorced. So, apparently they weren't all that mad about each other, after all. More mad at you. In the episode, it jumps forward even more years ahead, and the couple cross paths, they remember what attracted them in the first place, and all these years later they get back together. Supposedly this was a "happy ever after" ending after all. As the audience reaction to the show's afterlife demonstrates, it wasn't. It was certainly an adventurously creative tact to try -- but a disastrously mindless "screw you, audience" one. And one that seemed forced, not justified by the seven years of unadulterated, pure "mad about you" love that went before it, no matter how adventurously creative.
Honestly, I don't know what they're doing to do in the 12-episode limited series. Will they ignore the earlier finale, like Will and Grace did and just say, "Forget it, folks, It didn't really happen, it was just a misguided TV episode that didn't work right. Here's the real way it all went on." Or will that still be part of the show's story? Because it can be. The divorce in the finale took place 22 years later. This new series picks up 20 years after the first series ended. So, are they going to show us the final two years of a marriage as it breaks down?? That sounds fun! Or will they show these two years of an "empty nester" marriage (which is how the press releases describe it) as happy, fun and charming -- and ignore that right after this limited series ends the couple that's Mad About You will be getting divorced. Which would be artistically dishonest.
I hope for the former, but I doubt. I expect it will be a combination of the latter two possibilities -- fun, charming, smart and showing cracks along the way that ends with them still in love...and hoping most of the audience will forget or block out that they're about to get divorced.
And unfortunately, unlike Will and Grace that showed us right from the first new episode that they were ignoring the previous ending as "Forget about it" -- because the new series took place after what happened in the first finale -- the new Mad About You takes place before the actions of the first finale. So, unless the show's creators say something about it (and so far I haven't found anything from them), the audience may not know if they're again and still leading us down the path that these two characters who are so deeply in love that they're "mad about you" are just about to get divorced.
The new episodes might be absolutely wonderful. I suspect they will be, with all the talents involved. But it also risks being utterly creepy depending on what road they take. And most of the roads available (though to be clear, not all) lead to that same destination.
It's very interesting. And even more bizarre. And totally uncertain.