Bringing back tried and tested material isn’t anything new in the entertainment industry. The movie world is always revisiting old stock. It almost seems that every other movie is either a reboot or a remake these days. Television is no different.
You may well be asking yourself why? When there is such a pool of talent in the world, why can’t they come up with anything new?
You’d be right to think that, but also think this: would Trekkies be such a big community if the TV studios hadn’t brought it back with a movie or the next generation? What would have happened if we’d given up the first time Family Guy or Futurama had been cancelled?
Sometimes the TV studios get it right and reconsider their cancellation. Making many fans punch the air in delight as their favorite show is back on the air. This year could well be a big ‘air punching’ year as the return of some of TV’s biggest shows’ make comebacks.
Heroes, X-Files, Twin Peaks and there’s even talk of a revamped version of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With all these positive reboots, we can’t forget the fact that sometimes TV studios get it wrong!
Desperate for viewing figures, the TV executives flick through their past copies of the TV guide and hope to pick out a ratings winning cherry. This can be very dangerous as you can either destroy the reputation of a once loved franchise, or even worse – flogging an old format that had died many years ago.
Sometimes once a show is cancelled it really should stay in the past.
15. Full House/ Fuller House
We start the list with a show that’s making a comeback this year. Originally about a widowed father who enrolled the help of his friend and brother-in-law to help him raise his children, Full House became a big hit over its eight season run and found a place in many people’s’ homes.
You might be wondering why is Full House coming back? Especially as there are more substantial comebacks planned for this year – plus the fact that nobody has really missed it. The simple answer is that this is the age of the online streaming companies. Each of them looking to outshine the TV networks, and what better way to do that than to bring back a show that already has a fan base. So this is why we’re getting Fuller House. The Netflix-produced show is billed as a sequel to Full House and most of the original cast will return, even though the Olsen twins (Michelle) will be a no show.
It’s hard to predict the future, but I think we all know that Fuller House will be the first casualty of the comebacks this year.
14. Battlestar Galactica
This may be dangerous territory to enter, especially as science fiction fans can get very protective over their shows. But with all the other science fiction franchises there are -Star Trek, Doctor Who and Stargate to name a few – Battlestar Galactica has to be bottom of the list.
First broadcast in 1978, the series was set in a distant part of the universe in which humanity has extended out to a group of planets known as ‘the twelve colonies,’ in which they engage in a continuing war with a cybernetic race known as ‘the Cylons.’
After a fairly successful ‘made for TV’ movie, a series was set up. Due to low ratings and high budgets, the show was cancelled after only one season. A re-vamp was tried a year later with the pilot, Galactica 1980. Turned into a full series, it struggled to find an audience and was cancelled after only 10 episodes.
The next few decades saw many attempts to revive the show with movie ideas and even a few pilots floating around. Yet none of them could attract any serious attention. Then, in 2003, a re-imagined Battlestar Galactica came back in the form of a mini series. This then lead to a full season in 2004. Fans finally started to get on board with Battlestar Galactica. However, the show came to an end and a prequel series, Caprica, came along. Fans soon turned off again and due to low ratings, it was quickly cancelled.
‘Who shot JR?’ Probably the biggest and most famous story line in TV history. With an estimated 80 million viewers tuning in to see who did do it (it was Kristen Shepard by the way. In case you were vacationing off the planet that year!) it was no wonder this show would make a comeback.
Centered around a feuding Texan family, the Ewings, it told the tale of their oil empire, fractured family lives and rivalry with the Barnes family. It produced many more memorable story lines. Most notably, an entire season was dismissed as a dream so that they could bring back a beloved character.
Flash forward to 2012 and Dallas was back. After a 20-year break, do we really need to know what’s been happening with the Ewings? The answer is no.
TV has come a long way since Dallas was in its prime and there’s nothing new this show can add. Everything has been done before: it’s essentially a rerun but with younger actors. Thankfully after only three seasons, Dallas was been cancelled.
12. All My Children/ One Life To Live
We enter the world of daytime soaps here and two for the price of one. With an impressive 40+ years on air for both shows, some may say it’s incredible that they were cancelled in the first place. The rest of us however are relieved to have them gone from our lives. Or at least we were!
After a drastic loss of ratings for both shows in the early part of the 21st century, the TV studios decided to ax them in 2011 and 2012 respectively. After the shows were cancelled, they began to seek other ways to keep the show alive. After a failed attempt to revive them on an internet channel, it was online streaming company, Hulu, that said yes to a return. But with difficulties and scheduling issues, plus still wanting a network behind them, it’s looking like a bleak future for the soaps and which it should. The 20th century was the golden age for soap operas but TV and the world has moved on. It’s time to cut these shows loose and move on. So we say this with the greatest respect, but please go quietly into that goodnight.
11. The Muppets
During the 60’s and 70’s, puppets were everywhere. With Sesame Street teaching a world of children how to count and spell, it wasn’t long before more shows followed. Puppet maestro, Jim Henson, wanting to break away from the innocence of Sesame Street, created The Muppets show.
Love or hate it, The Muppets show came on to our screens in the mid 70’s. After a few hiccups with TV networks, The Muppets show soon established itself as a must-see viewing. With its over the top and often anarchic comedy, celebrity guest and variety, The Muppets show entertained both children and adults.
Sadly with the passing of Jim Henson, it looked as though The Muppets were done for. After a few Muppet movies without Jim, momentum seemed to build again. In 2015, the Muppets were brought back to the small screen. But for a lot of viewers, the Muppets aren’t the same without Henson. And they’re not. Henson and the Muppets are linked together: you can’t have one without the other. So when Jim Henson died, The Muppets should have died as well.
10. The Prisoner
‘I am not a number!’ A famous quote from this British invasion show. An espionage show starring Patrick Mcgoohan who is also credited with co-creation.
After ‘The Prisoner’ leaves the secret service, he’s abducted and taken to a mysterious village in which he’s kept prisoner. There he is given a number – he is number six – using many forms of drugs, mind control, dream manipulation and identity theft, they try to extract information out of number six.
And of course, we can’t forget the giant bubble that swallowed you up if you tried to leave. Scary right?
So in 2010 when the show made a return – a co-production between British and US studios – they seemed to forget the message of the show and went for a simple thriller. Even the casting of Sir Ian Mckellen couldn’t bring any gravitas to the reboot
This is a show that is definitely of its time and it should stay that way.
You’ll be forgiven if this reboot passed you by. It passed us all by. But in 2013, Ironside ‘rolled’ back onto our TVs.
The show was originally centered around former San Francisco cop, Robert T. Ironside, played by Raymond Burr. After being shot on duty, Ironside was left paralyzed and wheelchair bound. Not wanting to stop doing his job, he came back as a consulting detective for the S.F.P.D. In its nearly ten-year run, Ironside picked up numerous awards including six Emmys and two Golden Globes. Along with a string of great guest stars, this went on to secure Ironside as one of the most popular cop shows in the 60’s and 70’s.
The new Ironside, however, was not such an instant classic. Changing location to New York and trying to make it ‘edgier’ and ‘grittier,’ audiences didn’t respond and after only three episodes, the show got pulled off the air and placed in a large hole in the ground labelled ‘oooops!’
A short lived comeback that nobody noticed.
8. The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone has seen many comeback attempts over the years: both on TV and in movie form. None of them however managed to come close to the original.
Running originally from 1959 – 1964, The Twilight Zone was an anthology show telling unrelated stories crossing all genres of fiction. The Twilight Show is credited with bringing science fiction and fantasy into mainstream TV. Writers used the show to address many of the social comments of the day. Something the remakes failed to stick to.
With the movie more of a homage than a reboot, the first official reboot came to us in 1985, trying to reintroduce the show to a new generation. The idea was exciting. However, the new show lacked many of the original’s weight, completely missing the point of the show. So after three seasons, the show was taken off the air.
After the less than impressive 80’s reboot, in 2002 they tried again. With nothing more than remakes and sequels to the original stories, the 2002 version fared even worse and after only one season it was cancelled.
7. The Bionic Woman
A great example of a spin off show here. Spawned from the already successful The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman followed a similar story.
Lindsay Wagner starred as Jamie Sommers, a tennis pro who had a tragic skydiving accident. Close to death, she is saved by having bionic implants. Much like Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man, the bionic implants gave her special skills: super hearing, speed and strength. Together the two shows worked perfectly, with even some cross-over episodes as well. After the shows had finished, they spawned three TV movies featuring both characters from the two shows. Thus creating a nice and neat Bionic multiverse.
That was one of the main reasons that the 2007 remake didn’t work. Not only did they try to make The Bionic Woman darker and edgier, they forgot the show it came from. They forgot Steve Austin. That would be like trying to remake Angel but forgetting to mention Buffy. There’s just no excuse for it.
6. Charlie’s Angels
With many 70’s TV shows getting a movie reboot, it was only a matter of time before some of them came back on the small screen. This time it was Charlie’s Angels turn for the re-vamp.
Initially running from 1976 – 1981, Charlie’s Angels saw a trio of woman known as ‘Angels,’ working as private detectives. Often going undercover to solve the crime of the week, the show became a huge part of pop culture, making Farrah Fawcett an overnight sensation.
Due to several recastings over its five season run, the show made itself perfect for a comeback. The mythos of the show, being that anyone could be an Angel (as long as there was three at a time) meant that each year the show could come back with a completely new cast and storyline (think Doctor Who and Star Trek).
This proved to be the case in 2000 when a movie version came out. Its success proving that you could take the original idea and update it with a new cast. So the stage was set for a TV comeback and once again Charlie’s Angels would be essential viewing. Nothing could go wrong, right? Well, no. Everything went wrong. Critics slammed the show’s poor acting, story lines and terrible action scenes. Basically everything about it. This made everyone switch off and after only the fourth episode aired, the show was cancelled.
5. Knight Rider
There are times when TV studios just don’t know when to stop. This is a great example of that.
The original show followed the adventures of crime fighter, Michael Knight, aided by his high-tech car KITT. It’s fast paced action and story lines made it perfect and fun viewing in the 80’s. After the series ended, a TV movie was released – Knight Rider 2000. Popular with fans, it appeared that the Knight Rider franchise was wrapped up nicely. How wrong we can be.
Forgetting the terrible TV movie Knight Rider 2010 – which I’m sure we’re all really trying to do. The first reboot came in the mid-90s with Team Knight Rider. You can’t blame the studios for trying. But when it was cancelled after one season, you would have thought that would have been that. However, in 2008 they tried again. Sticking closer to the original, this version of Knight Rider focused on Michael Knight’s estranged son Mike Tracear – changing his name during the series to, you guest it, Knight. Once again after only one season, the show was cancelled.
4. The Odd Couple
Based on a 1965 play by Neil Simon, The Odd Couple has seen many incarnations since then. The first was the film, based on the play and written by Simon himself. It became a smash hit. So naturally a TV version was soon to follow, and in 1970, The Odd Couple hit the screens. Centered on the lives of two divorced men, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison -one a neat freak and the other a slob – it’s the original miss-match sitcom.
After the show ended in 1975, it wasn’t long before the studios were desperate to re-invent it.
The first, and weirdest, reboot came in the form of a children’s cartoon – The Oddball Couple. Trying to escape paying licensing fees, they changed enough to get away with it, replacing the characters with Spiffy the cat and Fleabag the dog.
Flash forward to today and another version on TV is here with Matthew Perry leading the production. The canned laughter and flat jokes are very outdated in today’s society. They should have learned from their mistakes and stayed clear of this overdone format.
3. The Fugitive
When you create an Emmy Award-winning show in the 1960’s, which then spawns an Oscar-winning film in the 1990’s, surely you would think that TV executives would be happy? They’ve created something that fans loved and can enjoy again and again. So there’s no need to ruin the legacy with a TV reboot, right? Once again we are so wrong.
In 2000, The Fugitive was brought back and by 2001 it had gone again. The reason? That’s simple: when you have a premise that revolves around a ‘who’s done it?’ you can’t create anything new and fresh if we all know who did it. Dr. Richard Kimble is falsely accused of killing his wife and after escaping on the way to prison, he must find out who the real killer is.
A great premise for the original show and re-introduced to a new generation with the film. We don’t need a third version. The audience seemed to agree and after its first season, The Fugitive was cancelled.
2. Beavis and Butt-Head
There are few TV shows that completely define a generation. Beavis and Butt-Head is one of those few. The high school delinquents rocked their way onto our screens in the early 1990’s. Their obsession with rock music, violence and sex, lead to many outrageous adventures. Popularity grew and a film version was released in 1996 – Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
But as the MTV generation started to change and move away from the heavy rock image, Beavis and Butt-Head faded, too, which is how it should be, forever stamping it as a classic piece of Generation X TV.
So in 2011 when the duo returned, it was met with a tepid reception. There is no place for them nowadays. They made the 90s great and the 90s is where they should stay.
1. Arrested Development
There are some shows that gain such critical acclaim, even winning awards, that it’s a wonder how they got cancelled in the first place. The answer of course is that no one watched it!
This is the case with Arrested Development. The brain child of Mitchell Hurwitz and Ron Howard, it follows the life of the dysfunctional Bluth family. The twist to this sitcom, if you can call it a twist, is its continuous format and use of handheld cameras. The critics went crazy for this sitcom, however, the audience did not.
This proved to be the case when it was cancelled after three seasons. Seizing their opportunity to be a part of the online streaming world, they picked up the show for an extra season. Now with a fifth season commissioned on Netflix, and talks of a possible movie, the only question left is why? No one missed the show when it was gone and Netflix hasn’t frozen due to everyone in the world trying to stream it. Out of all the comebacks, this is for sure one that the world can do without.