Some TV Reboots I’d Give a Shot
Read most entertainment blogs or talk to your average purveyor of pop art and you’ll generally hear the word “reboot” thrown around only with scorn and disdain. On the one hand, I understand the annoyance with Hollywood’s perceived lack of original ideas and “lazy” reliance on past properties to line their pockets in the absence of “true” creativity; on the other, some really fine movies and television shows of the last 20 years have come about because somebody liked an old concept and decided to give it a polish.
Folks have raved about the new take on “Star Trek” being everything they want from a big screen action blockbuster. One of my new favorites on TV, NBC’s “Parenthood,” borrows its name and feel from a Steve Martin movie then goes its own way from there. The current cinematic Batman franchise not only grew out of the timeless comic books, but rose from the ashes of some pretty terrible films about a decade ago. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has spawned legions of fans and influenced a whole wave of pop culture, yet it first saw life as a tepid cinematic flop starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry.
And hey, I’m not watching the new “90210,” but it’s heading into a third season, so obviously somebody must be.
Granted, this does not forgive the failures. You’re far more likely to see an awful take on “The Wild Wild West” or dull reimagining of “The Manchurian Candidate” at the theater than a nice surprise like this summer’s “The Karate Kid.” And my heart certainly broke last year when The CW fumbled big time trying revive my favorite show of all-time (yes, I say it proud), “Melrose Place.”
But I don’t find the reboot to be a fruitless endeavor. I’ll take the one hit for every three duds; it generally proves worth it.
That said, a few TV properties I think at least merit consideration for rebooting…
Here’s a case where I think you take a mix of original series alumni with new faces and the show pretty much writes itself. “Cheers” had one of my all-time favorite series finales, but I really don’t think you invalidate it by showing that a younger guy (or girl) took over the bar and there’s a new crowd learning from Cliff and Norm’s alcohol-soaked wisdom; heck, “Frasier” ran 11 seasons, so obviously we know this world continued on past Sam flipping the lights off. With “Cheers,” there’s a feel and style of comedy that could yield plenty of new stories without having to rehash the old stuff, but a reboot could also benefit nicely from the nostalgia of original cast members dropping by, a classic setting and of course one of the best theme songs ever.
The 1994 Mel Gibson film adaptation of the 1950′s TV series “Maverick”-both of which featured James Garner-happens to be one of my favorite movies of all-time. It’s so charming and witty and clever with its reveals upon reveals. I don’t really think you could replicate the movie, but I always liked the idea of a western where the main protagonist can fight or shoot his way out of a scrape if he has to, but prefers to talk or cheat instead if he can. I think with the right leading man, a modern audience would really connect to a cowboy genre series where the hero skews a bit more flawed and real than the larger-than-life John Wayne types we’re used to. Could you imagine Bradley Cooper as Bret Maverick? If only he weren’t a movie star now!
LAVERNE & SHIRLEY
It’s a rare thing these days to see a decent television series with two female leads if they’re not detectives and that’s actually funny-ok, I can’t name any. That seems a shame given how many funny lady comedians occupy our cultural sphere yet only get work as the girlfriend or at best professional partner to the man who they’re not supposed to end up with (Spoiler: They do). “Laverne & Shirley” did eight seasons worth of pretty solid success off the pretty simple premise of two female roommates living life and being funny, so why not give it another shot? I’d watch the heck out of this show if the likes of Elizabeth Banks, Christina Applegate, Anna Faris, Sarah Chalke and/or other possible-non-blond-white-girls wanted to give it a shot.
One of the things I was hoping to get from “Melrose Place” was a return to that epic nighttime soap opera formula I loved so much where a world of only a few miles and like five sets felt massive and no amount of melodrama could be considered off-limits. I think one of the reasons the new MP tanked was because it tried too hard to skate the line between a pretense of that and yet and playing safe within the bounds of taking itself seriously, but I say take the biggest, most ridiculous prime time soap of them all with “Dallas” and swing for the fences. You’d need a dynamite cast who wouldn’t be afraid to look ridiculous half the time, but I think the risk/reward would pay off.
How has the world’s most watched TV show of all-time been off the air for nearly a decade and nobody has attempted resuscitation? Mitch Buchanan would be ashamed. If the rights haven’t been tangled up somewhere, there’s no reason The CW shouldn’t have this on the air right freaking now; it’s not a difficult formula to replicate, folks.
SAVED BY THE BELL
Ok, admittedly, I don’t want a reboot here, just “Saved By The Bell: The Mid-Life Years.” Gold.
Cheers photo by Caitlinator
Baywatch photo by AADONALD
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