Saturday, November 14, 2009

Six TV Series Revivals I'd Love To See

With the recent announcement that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles developer Josh Friedman is developing a Charlie's Angels remake for ABC Studios, so soon after the network's recent big launch of V, it got me thinking about some other TV "classics" that I think might work with a revival.

Bringing back an old series is often a slippery slope - comparisons to the source material are always going to come into play, and in a case like, say, Bionic Woman, where your leading lady is no Lindsay Wagner and the concept is far more complicated than it has to be, it can be trouble. V seems to have done well by having its own unique but familiar take on the Visitors; Battlestar Galactica also ran with its original source material and created something of its own. NBC's failed Knight Rider had issues, too, not realizing that a big reason why the original series worked was the interplay between David Hasselhoff's Michael Knight and the car, KITT, ably voiced by William Daniels, who gave the car a life of its own. Instead, they gave us characters with more issues than we needed to care about, a KITT that didn't seem to be as cool as the original model of 25 years ago, and supporting characters who were meant to be "funny" but came off more on the side of "annoying."

With that said... here are six series or concepts that I think could be just as fresh today, if done right. I don't expect everyone to agree with my choices, but I would love to hear some feedback in the comments section here. Here's that list.

#1. Dallas

Dallas premiered in 1978 and lasted until 1991, covering the entire 80's and being very representative of the riches and greed that many associate with that decade. The show gave us one of TV's best villains, J.R. Ewing, and also popularized the "season finale cliffhangers" that we still get on TV today.

In the late 1990's, CBS aired the first of two reunion TV-movies for the series, J.R. Returns. The movie was quite successful, and one of my favorite aspects of the movie was that the sons of J.R. and Bobby - John Ross and Christopher - were now becoming adults with good (or bad) habits of their own. Unfortunately the "younger generation" was completely forgotten by the time CBS aired the second reunion movie, War of the Ewings, and it's a shame -- Dallas is a concept that has always been generational. The feud between the Ewings and the Barnes family started with the "older generation" of Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes, continued to their sons, and it'd be really interesting to see what the third generation would do. The fact that the oil industry isn't very revered these days would also put a VERY different spin on the concept.

Allegedly, a new Dallas series or pilot exploring that "next generation" is in development for the TNT cable network. However, the lack of mainstream press on this project makes me wonder if this is just a rumor or a pipe dream. If it happens, though, I would watch every week. Concepts like 90210 and especially Melrose Place are very shaky to do a revival or a sequel series in the same continuity - but in this case, because the series had always been generational, I think this would work.

#2. 21 Jump Street

So The CW likes mining FOX hits to get their teen demographic. That much is pretty clear. So why hasn't anyone tried to revive 21 Jump Street for TV already?

21 Jump Street was one of FOX's first hits, especially among the teen demographics, and among other things it featured a young actor named Johnny Depp among its cast. The concept was pretty straightforward - young-looking cops go undercover, usually into a high school, to solve crimes that also involve young people. The CW already likes hiring 30 year olds to play high schoolers (hello, Teddy from 90210) so a series like this seems like it'd be a no-brainer. I think The CW's target audience would love it. And even better... most viewers under 25 have never even heard of or seen the original series, which would prevent people from making unfair comparisons.

#3. The X-Files

Blasphemy, you say. But I can guarantee that sometime in the next 15 years, some TV executive is going to think bringing The X-Files back to TV is a good idea. We've seen how well TV audiences reacted to X-Files substitutes like Doggett and Reyes, and ultimately it wasn't too pretty, but still... could the Powers That Be resist? I doubt it.

Though it's almost too bad that there is no X-Files on TV by 2012. Weren't there some prophecies in the original series having to do with that year? Either way, with the right casting, and the right creative people, I think I could actually get behind that and like it.

#4. Faith the Vampire Slayer

Vampires are hot right now. Eliza Dushku doesn't have a job anymore. Need I say more? (I count this since it would technically be a revival of Buffy).

#5. The Dukes of Hazzard

This is probably the most mockable choice on my list. Full disclosure: The Dukes of Hazzard was the first "favorite TV show" I ever had. What appealed to me about it then (and still appeals to me now) was the whole "right vs. wrong, Hatfields vs. McCoys" type feel to it, with characters who may have fought, but ultimately, the show was about family. There was adventure, there were fast cars, and there was Rosco chasing them and falling into a ditch.

The Dukes also might be one of the most difficult series to revive, either as a sequel or as a remake, mostly because we saw how bad it was when the two leads were replaced in 1982, and then we saw how it was even worse with the two craptacular movies that came out in this past decade. But remembering the core concept of family - and the fact that the Dukes is about car chases and not a constant flow of sex jokes - and they might be onto something. Get two good looking guys as the leads and a girl who looks good in short shorts, and a sheriff who's actually funny, and it'd work. Involve original cast members and it'd be even better. But would the audience of 2010 be interested? Possibly not. I know I'd watch, if it was done right.

#6. The Love Boat

UPN tried this in 1998 with The Love Boat: The Next Wave, which, despite having a great cast (including Robert Urich and Smallville's Phil Morris!), was kind of lost at sea. There were probably a number of factors against it - not just the fact that it was on UPN; the awful truth is that the D-list guest stars they got on just weren't interesting enough.

Where was Charo, for example? And what a lot of people forget is, although The Love Boat seemed to be a depository for washed-up actors... a lot of the stars they had on that show were still appearing on popular series at the times they took their cruise. They had folks like Sherman Hemsley, Robert Reed, Jaclyn Smith, Suzanne Somers, Marion Ross... and all at the peaks of their careers.

Now, look at the success of shows like Dancing With The Stars or even VH1's Celebreality line-up. A lot of people now love to think "whatever happened to?" Now, wouldn't you like to see your favorite actors... on a cruise? No?

Well, I would. It's just cheesy enough that it'd be easy guilty pleasure TV for me. Bonus if they did episodes that paired up classic TV couples like, say, Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, as different characters for episodes.

Honorable Mention: CHiPs

TNT tried a remake with a TV-movie in 1999 and I really enjoyed it. But would people enjoy a light-hearted show about two members of the California Highway Patrol today? I don't know. I'm not counting it among my six, either, because I believe there's a movie in development starring Wilmer Valderrama... and my Spidey senses predict that it's going to be stupid.


Anyhow, what are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments!