The original series finale took place in 2021 and featured the Buchman's (Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt) daughter as a filmmaker creating an autobiography of her family's life.
The latest in a slew of sitcom revivals has an interesting series finale to consider in that it takes place in the very near future now. "Mad About You" wrapped up in 1999 with a look 22 years down the road.
The story of Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt's Paul and Jamie Buchanan centered on the young, neurotic couple for seven seasons on NBC, including the birth of their daughter Mabel at the end of Season 5.
In an intriguing flash-forward, the two-part series finale took place in the far-flung future of 2021, with the now grown-up Mabel (Janeane Garofalo) following in her father's footsteps as a film maker chronicling the story of her family's lives via an autobiography. Through that lens, audiences learned that Paul and Jamie were somehow actually never legally married, and also that they were briefly separated.
So what does this mean for the upcoming 12-episode eighth season revival for Spectrum? Two years shy of that flash-forward, where does that leave our characters? How important is this flash-forward episode from 1999 to the 2019 revival plans?
Taking a note from NBC's successful "Will & Grace" revival, the answer is apparently not so much, according to the cast and producers at Saturday's PaleyFest Preview event for the sitcom.
Instead of working as a film maker, the revival picks up with Mabel (now played by Abby Quinn) preparing to move out and head to college. Born in 1997, that would make her ... 22 years old? maybe this isn't her first year there? Or maybe, as executive producer Peter Tolan told Variety, "we're futzing with time a little bit."
He also emphasized, "The things that you saw in that might happen in the future, but some of it won't, so we're not strictly being held to that finale. I'm pretending it didn't happen." In other words, don't take all of it so seriously. This is comedy. Loosen up and have some fun.
Further, he said that he hoped "that not many people remember the finale," though that seems unlikely for the fans of the series that will return. That said, though, like "Will & Grace," many of those fans probably won't mind if he alters or ignores altogether the events of that future. It could easily be explained away as the couple's imagination of what their daughter's future could hold.
This new series will show what actually transpires, and Tolan admits they did consider having Paul and Jamie separated, as revealed in that flash-forward. They decided against it, though, saying that "most of the viewers are just waiting to see those people again and there's some comfort level that has to be there."
So instead of something perhaps jarring and new, fans will immediately recognize the familiar beats between Reiser and Hunt and their same dynamic that kept the show toward the top of the Neilsen ratings for so long.
"The first thing you have to do is say, 'Here they are again' and be true to the characters," Tolan explained. "Then show some growth for the characters -- because ultimately it's the audience investment over time that makes them want to watch it again."
And Reiser and Hunt are perhaps more involved than ever in this latest chapter for their sitcom counterparts; Reiser wrote the premiere script, while Hunt took on directing duties.
"We wanted it to be the things that it always was, which was funny, number one; about something we give a s--t about; and that it had that tension between how beautiful love can be and how hard it can be to love someone," Hunt said. "That tension is the show."
The all-new "Mad About You" drops its first six episodes Wednesday, November 20 on Spectrum.