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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

because stale leftovers are sooo yummy

The endless parade of remakes of old TV series is destined to continue for the foreseeable future, according to Bill Carter in The New York Times:

Among the most prominent projects under consideration as new series next fall are these familiar names: “The Rockford Files” on NBC; “Charlie’s Angels” on ABC; and “Hawaii Five-O” on CBS.

That is another way of saying it is only natural to turn to familiar titles because they attract attention. The question is whether the series that result will attract viewers.

The track record does more than suggest not: it screams not. In the history of network television, no remake of a previous hit series has ever become a hit itself on network television.

Or because it’s not just creativity that’s dead in Hollywood: it’s simple business smarts, too.

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.

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  • JoshDM

    I wonder if they’re going to remake The X-Files.

    And don’t suggest “Fringe”.

  • Well, the recent Night Stalker reboot seemed like an attempt at a X-Files remake. Like Fringe, however, it was also an example of how not to do such a series.

  • mortadella

    Why don’t these network tools remake shows that blew the first time around….hello, Manimal, anyone?

  • Bluejay

    Why don’t these network tools remake shows that blew the first time around….hello, Manimal, anyone?

    Good god, Manimal! If they ever remake that, can Automan and The Highwayman be far behind? (All three were produced by Glen Larson, by the way. Since they’ve already remade his BSG and Knight Rider, maybe remaking these others isn’t such a far-fetched scenario…)

  • Victor Plenty

    There was that remake of Battlestar Galactica. I seem to recall a few people thinking it had improved somewhat on the original.

    Perhaps it’s time for a gritty, grimly realpolitik re-imagined Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? Give us a new, modern Buck Rogers, maybe written by Joss Whedon or Ronald D. Moore, and I’ll bet many enthusiastic fans would tune in to watch her.

  • Bluejay

    @Victor: There IS a planned web serial of Buck Rogers due out later this year. Looks to be more retro than BSG-style gritty. The teaser trailer is here:


    The poster looks godawful, but the trailer looks intriguing, I think. Very Sky Captain-ish.

  • I’m just resigned to the fact that Hollywood remakes things all the time. It consumes all and rarely improves on what had gone before.

    There’s how many remakes of Brewster’s Millions?

    Cecil DeMille’s Ben-Hur is a remake from a 1920s silent epic version (check the Extras list on the silent movie version!).

    And this guy, Shakespeare? Apparently Hollywood can never get any of his half-baked plays right…

    I guarantee in another 10-20 years there will be another attempt at Flash Gordon.

  • Victor Plenty

    Oh, no. No; no. Just… no.

    (Applies to the Buck Rogers poster and trailer that Bluejay linked above, but probably equally well to anything Hollywood is likely to do with Flash Gordon, too.)

  • Joan

    BSG wasn’t on network television. It also was very much not a hit. Critical darling, yes, but its ratings would have killed it tout de suite had it been on a network.

  • Wow, the mention of “Manimal” by mortadella was a blast from the past.

    Well remakes generally suck but are part and parcel of modern Hollywood. What I would like is not a remake of “Moonlighting” but something in a similar manner, especially here in the UK, as it use to brighten my TV viewing whenever it was on.

  • Paul

    BSG wasn’t a hit? All my American friends loved it. Oh, wait, they’re all SF/F writers, published or otherwise. Never mind.

  • r4

    Oh, it is really very helpful and amazing post you have provided to me. Thanks for it and have good future to you.

  • RogerBW

    In TV terms, a failure inside the lines is a whole lot better for your future career than a failure doing something new and different.

    Financiers also like to see some reason for people to watch the show, and “is a remake” provides a much more concrete reason for people to watch than “is about (interesting thing)”.

  • Well, now that I think about it, it seems kinda funny for us to start going on about how various remakes would never work when most of us who post here regularly spent most of the weekend discussing the latest episode of a series that was essentially the twenty-first century remake–okay, continuation–of a twentieth century sci-fi series.

    Of course, that series was a British series–and the British do tend to do things differently from us. Some things they do better, some things they do worse, but this particular show I just don’t see ever working on American TV. Even on cable. Which is a shame.

  • Which is just as well because I really don’t want to see Matt Smith shot by Chinese-American hoodlums…

  • JoshDM

    I love it. First thing I thought of when I saw “Manimal” was “Automan” and the headstone in the Mad Magazine issue for that year.

    Notably, “Manimal” did have a re-launch via … wait a sec.

    This is sounding awfully familiar.

    Right. We played this game RIGHT HERE, LAST YEAR. Night Man meets Manimal.

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