TV Reboots: The Best, The Worst, The Wish List, And Please Just Don't
In this era of peak tv, TV reboots are kicking up dust. With all the new platforms to watch tv these days, content providers are scrambling for ways to get more eyes on their product. Nostalgia is an easy fix. TV remakes have a built in audience which is a huge advantage when you have nearly five-hundred tv shows vying for the remote control holder's attention. Networks have recently granted the greenlight to reboots of Murphy Brown, Charmed and Party of Five with even more remakes announced every day. Which begs the question. Why? Doesn't anyone have any new ideas? Is it laziness for lack of imagination?
I think the answer is much simpler. Imagine a new hamburger chain setting up shop right next door to a McDonald's. Why would anyone take a chance on Delbert's Burger-o-rama when they can chomp down on a tried and true Big Mac? It's comfort food and to many it tastes damn good. And that's what network executives are banking on: TV comfort food with a built in audience and a smaller marketing budget because viewers already know what a remake show is all about. And in these chaotic times, networks know audiences are salivating for the calming effect of sitting down with some old friends you haven't seen in while and watching some TV.
Are TV Reboots A Step Backward?
Some of tv's most exhilarating shows have flooded the small screen landscape in the past ten years. Many showrunners have been given free creative reign to run wild with their vision which has resulted in some of the best TV ever. Shows like Black Mirror, The Handmaid's Tale, Narcos, Ozark, Godless, Mindhunter, Stranger Things, Halt & Catch Fire, Game of Thrones, True Detective, 13 Reasons Why, Fargo, The Walking Dead (pre-Gimple!) and Breaking Bad are all examples of networks having faith in new ideas and in audiences to find great new shows.
However, now it seems as though the powers that be are scrambling to fill the hours until the next great new show premieres. They're raiding the TV archives for every nook and crumb that might be left to dangle in front of an ever hungry TV audience. Some shows deserve a remake, some deserve to be left for what they were...or weren't. Here's the scoop on all the returning shows, the ones we need, the ones we don't, the ones we wish for and the ones we hope they just leave alone.
TV Reboots Coming Soon (Whether You Want Them or Not)
The old adage "What's old is new again" has never been truer as more and more old TV shows are resurrected from the dead. These shows will once again entertain (or haunt) you in the very near future.
- Roseanne - The Conners return to TV with most of the original cast in tact on ABC March 27, 2018. The revival will catch up with the Conner family some 20 years later and deal with current events affecting the working class from healthcare to politics. And every one take a deep breath, but there are rumors out there that they might be Tr!&mp supporters. (BTW, didn't Dan die?!)
- American Idol - The singing competition that started them all returns March 11, 2018 on ABC. This inception stars new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. I always imagine Lionel Richie introducing himself to people, "Hello..."
- Stripes - CBS has given the go-ahead for a reboot of the Bill Murray 1981 film in series form. The show will also "focus on a rebellious outsider who finds direction in life by joining the military and uniting a group of quirky misfits". I'm only watching if Bill Murray has a time machine and can star.
- Murphy Brown - At first, I thought this might be fake news, but it's true. CBS is bringing back Candice Bergan as the titular investigative journalist and news anchor in a 13-episode season.
- The Twilight Zone - It’s arguably the greatest horror and science fiction show in the history of television. The Twilight Zone has been rumored to get a reboot several times over the past few years with nothing coming of the rumors so far. However, Jordan Peele is said to be involved this time around and CBS is said to be interested. We can't get enough of spooky anthologies as far as I'm concerned. File this one under "wait and see and hope".
- Party of Five - ABC's Freeform announced a reboot for modern times. Party of Five was a tear-jerker fan-favorite following the lives of five orphaned children. This time around the show will center around a group of siblings left alone after their parents are deported.
- Trading Spaces - "The Mother of All Design Shows" returns to TLC April 7, 2018 with nearly all the original designers and host Page Davis. The only thing that looks different about the reboot is the budget which doubles from $1000 to $2000. Got my popcorn and glue gun ready.
- Charmed - The CW hopes to bewitch us with this "Feminist Reboot". The presser says "This fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series centers on three sisters in a college town who discover they are witches. Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done.” I'm not completely spellbound by the premise.
- The L Word - Showtime is reportedly moving forward on a reboot of the lesbian drama with both new and original cast members taking part. No premiere date at this time.
- Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - Netflix revives a new Fab Five in Atlanta on February 7, 2018.
- Roswell - The CW has chosen to go forward with a reboot of the three-season '90's drama about alien teenagers. The new series has a reportedly political tint to it, with the heroine, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, returning to her hometown, only to find out that her childhood crush is an illegal alien on a whole other order of magnitude.
- The Jetsons - NBC has placed an order for this non-animated series set 100 years in the future. Robert Zemeckis is set to executive produce if the series is picked up.
- Miami Vice - NBC doesn't have a premiere date set, but does plan on bringing back the narcotics detective series sometime this year. There aren't any more details other than Vin Diesel is a producer so we know it's a done deal. Because Vin gets what Vin wants. (And familia is important.)
- Cagney and Lacey - Cagney and Lacey continues CBS' big push for female characters and writers next season. Described as a reboot of the iconic series about two female police detectives and friends who keep the streets of L.A. safe. The original aired on CBS for seven seasons in the '80s starred Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless.
- The Greatest American Hero - ABC needs to be careful with this one. They've given a green light to a pilot for a remake of this 1980's cult classic starring William Katt. I LOVED this show as a kid. It was silly. It was fun. And it really made you wonder, "What would I do if I found a superhero suit but it had no instructions?" I pondered this question a lot as a kid. ABC says the remake is a reimagining of the original "centering around Meera, a 30-year-old woman who loves tequila and karaoke and has spent her life searching and failing to find meaning, much to the chagrin of her traditional Indian-American family. An inexplicable event occurs that will change the course of Meera’s life forever: she is entrusted with a super suit to protect the planet. Meera may have finally found purpose, but the world has never been in more unreliable hands." Hmmm.
- The Munsters - Coming to Brooklyn New York via the NBC network, producer Seth Myers is bringing back the family of monsters to terrorize a new neighborhood and generation of viewers. This one is still in development so no additional information is available at this time.
- Bridezillas - WE tv brings back the brides from hell reality show sometime in 2018. Some may find it shocking, but I would often binge watch this show (before binging was even cool!). It's hard to turn off. Those brides are monsters! I'm serious. If a network would interweave Forensic Files and Bridezillas without commercial interruption, I'd die in my chair for lack of food or sleep.
- Lost in Space - Netflix thinks we need to know what the Robinson family is up to because with the exception of that horrible movie with Joey in outer space, we haven't heard from them since CBS took them off the air in 1968. The out of this world update streams in May 2018.
- The Office (Maybe) - This one is just a rumor over at NBC, but with the success of Will & Grace and the Twin Peaks reboot over on Showtime, you'd think it's more likely than unlikely at this point. Several of the supporting actors have already said they would be onboard, but nothing has been decided as of this writing.
- Magnum P.I. - CBS is really into this remake game. This time around, Thomas Magnum is an ex-Navy Seal coming home from a tour in Afghanistan to become a private investigator. No premiere date as of yet, and the only other leaked details are he will drive a Prius instead of a Ferrari and Higgins will be played by Alexa which sounds awesome.
- Jersey Shore Family Vacation - MTV 2018. God help us all.
- Heathers - The 1988 dark (almost black!) comedy starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater makes a killer comeback on the Paramount Network March 7, 2018.
- The Muppet Babies - The Disney Channel gets in on the nostalgia game with the relaunch of Jim Henson's Muppet Babies. The reimagined children's show will be a CG-animated series with toddler versions of Kermit the Frog, Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Animal. Because who needs pen, ink, paint or paper when your company is named Disney and you have computers.
- Amazing Stories - Steven Spielberg helmed the original anthology Amazing Stories series. This time around, Pushing Daisies alum Bryan Fuller takes the reigns. Like the original, the reboot is set to have a rotating cast of talent, including Patton Oswalt and Kumail Nanjiani. This one will air on NBC.
Remake Takeover, OMG! They're Already Here!
Here are the reboots, remakes, revivals, regurgitation...or whatever you wish to call them already streaming/airing on a TV near you:
- Will & Grace - Returned to NBC this fall in one of arguably the most successful of the reboots so far. The cast and writers did a phenomenal job of stepping right back into the fray without seeming stale or skipping a comedic beat.
- The X-Files - I Want To Believe and will never tire of Duchovny's Fox or Gillian's Scully. The premiere was an absolute mess this January but the most recently aired episode "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is up there in the pantheon of great of X-Files episodes. I'm all for more episodes, especially if they stick to standalone eps...like the all-time "how in the hell did they get that on network TV episode Home?!?!"
- MacGyver - CBS reimagined this classic series with a younger lead without Richard Dean Anderson's serious sense of charm. I can't imagine what they were thinking. But it's still on the air so someone must be watching. Because we all know those Nielsen ratings are infallible.
- One Day At A Time - Norman Lear and Netflix's reboot of this 70's and 80's hit seems to be a success. It's now airing its second season to both critical and viewer acclaim. While I think the lead actress is very talented, I couldn't get past the first few episodes. But my family sure loves it.
- Dynasty - The CW did the legacy of the original no small favor when it brought back this soapy gem last year.
- Fuller House - I think this is the one that originally aired on ABC and had Monroe as the "quirky" neighbor and Ted Knight was always trying to protect his two kind of "over-friendly" daughters from male suitors and- oh sorry. Just been informed that's not it. This is the one with Uncle Jesse. The General Lee and Bo and Luke...oh wait- It's on Netflix. You know what it is, and Netflix recently renewed this reboot for a fourth season.
- S.W.A.T. - CBS is under contractual obligation to always have a starring vehicle for star Shemar Moore. He posed in S.W.A.T. gear for producers and they greenlit this remake on the spot. Currently airing on CBS, and if you listen closely you can hear the explosions and Shemar whispering, "We're not leaving him behind. He's one of ours."
Reboot & Re-Imagined Wish List
I personally don't want them to make anymore reboots, but if they're going to bring back Full House and Jersey Shore, then why not remake/re-imagine one of these classics:
- NYPD Blue - We've got to find a way to get Dennis Franz out of retirement.
- Homicide: Life On The Street - The best gritty police procedural of all time needs new life. Just find a young Andre Braugher to anchor an all-star cast and a show runner as great as David Simon and the best writers in the biz spewing 22 episodes a season. How hard is that?
- Breaking Bad In Reverse - Series creator Vince Gilligan sold Breaking Bad to the studio with a one pitch sentence, "I told them: 'This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr Chips into Scarface.'" If Vince Gilligan and the writers of Breaking Bad were involved, who wouldn't watch that story in reverse? Scarface becomes Mr. Chips. (Or is Better Call Saul doing that already? Because at this point, I have no idea.)
- Law & Order: Vampire Hunters - Stephen King suggested this one on Twitter and I couldn't agree more.
- Little House on the Prairie - It would take a casting agent to find the next Michael Landon, but we need some preachy family values and lessons spewed at us now more than ever. With Half-Pint, Blind Mary, Pa's fiddle and flowing locks and a quivery bottom lip...I'd so be there. But no Carrie. Pease, no Carrie.
- Cheers - Sports Guy Bill Simmons gets the credit for this one. I'd watch a reboot of Cheers set in a Chicago bar. Yes, you need a great cast and yes, you need great writing. But that concept is a winner.
- It's Your Move - One of my earliest appointment viewing tv shows was It's Your Move. It starred a young, perfectly cast Jason Bateman and all it was every week was a kid terrorizing his neighbor in some new way because the guy was a potential love interest for his single mom. Bateman was great which should come as no shock because seriously, Jason Bateman is always so, so great. I'd watch a remake because this show planted the seed of my sarcasm. (FYI, you can stream It's Your Move on YouTube!)
- The Cosby Show - I have an idea for this reboot: It's set in prison and the family can only visit one Sunday per month.
- Remington Steele - Before Pierce Brosnan was Bond, James Bond. He was Steele, Remington Steele; suave private investigator alongside the gorgeous and sexy Laura Holt played by Stephanie Zimbalist. My wife has been watching reruns, and I have to say the chemistry between the two was fun to watch. The original doesn't hold up too well, but shows driven by chemistry like this were mainstream in the 1980's. Hart To Hart, Moonlighting and Remington Steele should be a pretty good blue print for some kind of successful reboot where the driving force of the show is the chemistry between the leading lady and leading man.
- The A-Team - How is this not a thing? Toy manufacturers should be all over streaming services to bring back the black van with the red stripe down the side.
- Friends - It's been tried and tried and tried. And has failed and failed and failed. Maybe the shows haven't been called Friends, but every network has attempted to put a bunch of twentysomethings together and recreate that Friends magic. Most of them have been awful. But watch season one. Friends wasn't great. But NBC gave them time to figure it out and by the middle of season two, the essence of what would become Friends was there. Characters began referencing things that happened on previous episodes. Characters laughed at other character's jokes. Each character began to snugly fit into who they were. As the writers figured out these six, the audiences did too. What made Friends so good, so funny was all the inside jokes. If an audience gets to grow up with the characters then they have a vested interest. Think of how much easier it must have been for the writers of Friends by season six. They had so many inside jokes to fill every scene for every character. "We were on a break!", Ross' divorces, Chandler's one liners and dad backstory, Phoebe's quirks, Monica's cleaning obsession, Joey's acting and dumbness and ladies man, Rachel's...ok I'm still not sure what Rachel's thing was, but you get my point. The jokes were built in, and sometimes we knew a punchline before they said it. Networks don't give shows that kind of time anymore, so for a reboot to work I think one of them has to have the nerve to do one of two things. One, cast wisely and hire great writers (easy peasy), and then say we're putting this thing on the air and riding it out no matter what. We're investing a minimum of three years, ratings and reviews be damned. Just give it time. That might work. But option two is the more interesting scenario to me. If a network isn't willing to give a show time anymore if the ratings are bad, then don't put it on tv until they have faith it's actually good. A network should produce a reboot of Friends but not put it on the air until season two or three. Do the first season as a play only in front of a live audience in a small theater somewhere, but not air it. This would give the writer's and actors time to find their footing and by the time it actually premiered on TV, the show would be set up for success instead of set up to fail. And if the show eventually became a hit, imagine how valuable those first season of bootlegged plays would be.
- Thirtysomething - I think I'm finished mourning Gary's death and am ready to move on.
And Please, Just Don't...
- The West Wing - When something is done perfectly the first time, why run the risk of trying to copy it and ruin it. This show encapsulates a snapshot of time and idealism that's certainly been lost in the past two years. Maybe it was a pie in the sky idealist view of what could be, but dammit the writing was incredible, the cast superb and it made you feel proud to be American. I know we need that more than every nowadays, but call it something different so you don't run the risk of tainting a good thing. In other words, find your own Bartlett.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - I don't understand why this hasn't happened yet, but I really don't want it to. Seems like a no-brainer. So happy they haven't.
- M*A*S*H - I've read rumors about a possible M*A*S*H reboot. With all the wars all over the world, it's somewhat surprising this hasn't already happened. Again, the original was perfect. Don't mar it.
- Walker Texas Ranger - CBS will do this. I just know it.
- Hee Haw - Ditto.
- ER - I don't give any new medical show a fair chance because I automatically think it's an ER ripoff. ER was so good, it ruined an entire genre of show for me. So, leave it alone. Stat!
- Jake and the Fatman - There will only ever be one Jake and there will only ever be one Fat Man. And that Fatman was and always will be William Conrad. R.I.P. Fatman.