Santa Monica, CA — I both love and hate the idea of re-booting an old series. It’s a worthy strategy, though, and one the studios and networks pursue annually with a high failure rate. There are lots of reasons for the failures, of course. I’ll get to those in a bit.
Meanwhile, Re-boots seem to me to be the Bottom of The Idea Barrel: The Nadir of Creativity.
I am reminded of the funny joke Tina Fey landed at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards when she glibly announced that Tyler Perry has been signed to write and direct the completely unnecessary but financially motivated sequel to Gone Girl which will be titled, Girl I Thought You Were Gone!
While not technically a re-boot, the point is, “Really? Do We Need This? Is This Really All Ya Got, Studios?”
Yes, it is. It really is.
And yet, a very successful re-boot Hawaii Five-O is now in its fifth season on CBS.
Also, let’s us not forget a SyFy Channel re-boot of Battlestar Galactica that succeeded overwhelmingly and left the original ABC version in the dust thanks to the creativity of writer Ron Moore who is now entertaining audiences with Outlander on Starz.
Why do most Re-boots fail, though? NBC tried last year to bring back Ironside starring Blair Underwood in the role Raymond Burr made famous, but no one cared to watch.
HBO brought back The Comeback after a 10-year hiatus. Creatively, Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King absolutely hit a home run, however, the audience wasn’t as big as the network hoped.
NBC wisely scrapped a re-boot of Murder She Wrote when star/producer Angela Lansbury objected. Cast as the new Jessica Fletcher, Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer dodged a career-threatening bullet there.
This season, CBS announced they were re-developing Charmed, a successful series that still runs daily in syndication. (CBS owns the Aaron Spelling library.) Original stars Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan immediately chimed in publicly, “Too Soon!”
And, of course, we have The Brady Bunch. The audience and the actors, and sometimes, the characters themselves have simply moved on. Some original series belong to their time, and they just can’t thrive in the Present.
Here are the Re-Boots the networks are trying on for size:
- Uncle Buck at ABC. Black-ish take on a series that’s been re-booted from a failed attempt years ago following the successful feature starring John Candy.
- Sigmund & The Sea Monsters at Amazon is a re-imagined version of the ’70s childrens live-action series. No one younger than Baby Boomers remembers this title, which could be a good thing creatively, but not what Amazon is hoping for.
- Tales From The Darkside at The CW brings half-hour anthology back to primetime.
- The X-Files at Fox was recently announced at the TCA in January. I wonder if it was just that: An Announcement. They needed something to Say. Empire had not yet premiered so there was little to crow about. Fox sister-company, 20th Century Fox Television, owns The X-Files. They don’t need creator Chris Carter or stars David Duchovny or Gillian Anderson to revive this show that has influenced a generation of television (Supernatural) since it premiered in the ’90s. Or, do they? My sense is that Mulder & Scully belong to the Past. They are an X-File. The announcement got Social Media abuzzing, though, so there is an audience out there (along with The Truth).
- 24 at Fox without Kiefer Sutherland. We shall see.
- Prison Break at Fox. All smoke and mirrors, thus far.
- The Saint at ITV brings back Simon Templar, the impeccably dressed British crime fighter.
- Heroes: Reborn at NBC stars Jack Coleman, Zachary Levi and presumably, some new Heroes. Creator Tim Kring returns to re-boot a series that lost its way after Season One.
- Law & Order at NBC. Dun. Dun!
- Twin Peaks at Showtime really really interests me as Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have signed on to write and to direct all nine episodes. Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn return. Can’t wait. I want to return to the Pacific Northwest. I want to see The Log Lady again. This re-boot picks up 20 years later.
- Electra Woman & DynaGirl has not landed at a network yet, but that’s not stopping Sid & Marty Kroft Prods. from announcing they are redeveloping it with two stars of social media. This quite possibly could be the bottom of the barrel.
Here’s my pitch for a Re-Boot:
Name recognition. Fond memories. Diversity. Comedy. Variety.
Next Up: Mini-series and Longform make a big Return to Television!