It is a well known fact that there are no original ideas in Hollywood anymore. There are people everywhere who are swinging cats, hoping to hit a new concept; but they have their work cut out for them. I mean, why have originality when you can stick with the big R? TV shows that are made with the big R in mind are cheap to produce; easy to write; and come with a ready-made fanbase. But Ross, I hear you ask, what is the big R? Isn’t it obvious …
Reboot, you idiot.
Just a few months ago, we were treated to a reboot of Dallas. I know, right? I thought we left that in the ’80s where it belonged, along with lamé and Debbie Gibson. Somehow, TNT managed to convince a few of the original show’s cast to sign on to star in the nostalgia piece with veteran thespian Jesse Metcalfe.
Surprisingly enough, the experiment seems to have been successful. The reviews were more favourable than expected, and audiences seemed to really respond to it. Dallas’ premiere scored almost 7 million viewers, which is pretty fucking amazing for a cable show. The show also won its timeslot almost every week. TNT has already renewed Dallas for a second run, so I think the Ewing’s are going to be back in our lives for the forseeable future.
Dallas isn’t the only recent example of a successful reboot of a dead franchise. In 2004, Sci-Fi took a shot at remaking/rebooting Battlestar Galactica, a campy ’70s sic-fi show. They tweaked the plot to make it relatable to a modern audience (9/11 allegories aplenty), and cast Edward James ‘grater face’ Olmos in the lead role. It paid off for them big time. Not only did audiences flock to it, but critics heaped praise onto the show. It is now considered to be one of the finest shows of the last decade, if not ever.
More recently, The CW resurrected teen series Beverly Hills, 90210 in the form of 90210. Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty, two stars of the original series, returned along with a new generation of high schoolers. The new 90210 maintained some of the things we loved most about the original show. The characters all attended West Bev, socialised at The Peach Pit and, most importantly, the high school students are all played by actors who are pushing 30.
90210 is about to return for a fifth season, and shows no signs of stopping. Audiences seem to be lapping up the hacky writing and godawful acting. The actors make up for their lack of talent with their pretty, plastic faces though.
On the other hand, there are some reboots that haven’t worked out so well. The CW tried to replicate the success of 90210 by rebooting its spin-off, Melrose Place. Suffice to say, nobody really cared enough about the show to actually watch it. Despite their efforts to draw in viewers with cameos from the original cast, Melrose Place was dumped after only one season. And it’s not the only one …
Hoping to capitalize on the renewed interest in retro sci-fi, ABC took a stab at remaking V, a guilty pleasure show from the ’80s. They poured a shitload of money into it, and embarked on an extensive marketing campaign. And it worked, for a bit. The pilot was watched by over 14 million people, the highest-rated debut of the 2009-10 season. However, audiences soon began to slide. By the time the second, and final, season came around, audience levels were down to about five million. Too bad for the space aliens, I guess.
Knight Rider is one of the most successful television shows of all time, and launched its star David Hassellhoff to global (or Germanic) fame. The same cannot be said of its 2008 remake, though. NBC tried to revive the series, with Val ‘Fat Batman’ Kilmer providing the voice of KITT. I saw one episode of the show, and am surprised that it made it to air in the first place. Honestly, I’d rather watch that video of a drunk Hassellhoff eating a cheeseburger on repeat for an hour. That would be sufficiently more entertaining.
So, what does all this shit tell us? I’m not sure. Some reboots do well, and some don’t. Some reboots are shit, and some aren’t. The successful ones aren’t necessarily the good ones. They are just the ones that people seem to enjoy watching. Will this trend continue? By the time I’m fat and forty, will I have to sit through The Bigger Bang Theory or, heaven forbid, a Gleeboot? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch a terrible show based on an original idea, than a mediocre one that was stolen from the ’80s. But hey, that’s just me …