The television networks are back on their reboot/revival craze, with several announced just in the last few weeks. While I understand that they like the idea of bringing a built-in audience to a “new” show, especially in the Peak TV era, I’m thinking that they can make better choices than what they currently have in development. If we are going to have to deal with the “R” word, there are quite a number of properties that would actually lend themselves pretty well to a reboot or revival. Here are my suggestions for a few alternatives to what is already in the pipeline.
Don’t Reboot The Jetsons,Bring Back Jonny Quest
ABC just announced plans to reboot the 1960s Hanna Barbera animated series about the trials and tribulations of a suburban family living in a highly-automated future, and the network plans on doing a live-action version. Another Hanna Barbera property, The Flintstones, already went through the live-action treatment on the big screen with underwhelming results, and I’m not thinking that The Jetsons will do much better with the transition from cartoon characters to live actors. However, if ABC feels it must reboot or revive a ’60s show from HB, I have a much better idea.
Bring back Jonny Quest, and preferably keep it as an animated series. The show followed the adventures of young Jonny Quest as he traveled around the world with his father, his friend Hadji and bodyguard Race Bannon (plus their dog Bandit). A retro version that continues directly from the original would be great fun for old fans and new alike.
If ABC felt an update was necessary, perhaps an older Jonny could take over the Dr. Quest role and the show could focus on Jonny Jr. I know that Robert Rodriguez is working on a live-action film reboot of the character (though I haven’t heard much on the progress of that), but having Jonny back on television in weekly adventures would be awesome as well, and I believe the show would draw plenty of audience interest.
Don’t Revive Galaxy Quest, Give Us More Buck Rogers
Amazon has been working on a reboot of the space comedy Galaxy Quest for a while, and now it appears to be back on again. Originally, the studio planned on setting up the film as a sequel to the original, with as much of the cast returning as possible. However, those plans ended when Alan Rickman passed away, and now Amazon could be going the full reboot route (though it invited the remaining original cast to participate).
We already have a Star Trek-like comedy on the way this Fall from Fox with The Orville, and an actual Trek show with the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. So, if we are going to revisit a classic space show, I have a much better suggestion:
How about we bring back the classic space hero Buck Rogers? The story of a contemporary man thrown into the world of the 25th century started as a book (where he was known as Anthony Rogers), then became much more famous as a comic strip and movie serial. Today, most people remember him from the camp ’70s TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the revival could play off the spirit of fun delivered by that show (though please give us better scripts).
You could also go for a dark reboot of the character a la the 2003 Battlestar: Galactica, but don’t we have enough dark sci-fi out there for now? If not Buck Rogers, then plug in Flash Gordon and you can have a ton of fun with that as well. Both characters are known the world over and would definitely bring a built-in audience, plus they have plenty of source material from which to mine. This could be huge success if done right (unlike, say, the 2007 Flash Gordon series that turned that character into a big, dull dud).
Don’t Reboot The Munsters, Give Us More Alf
NBC is working yet again on a reboot of the suburban monster family sitcom The Munsters, something that pretty much nobody is clamoring for. The network passed on Bryan Fuller’s Mockingbird Lane in 2012 (a total reworking that actually showed some promise), but NBC seems determined to get Fred Munster and his clan back on the schedule. Instead of a rehash of that comedy about not-so-human characters trying to live a normal life, though, I have a better idea for the network.
Bring back the cat-craving alien Alf. That series debuted in the ’80s and delivered one of the funniest lead characters we had seen on television since Mork from Ork. Sadly, the wise-cracking and witty Alf crash-landed from space into four years of stock sitcom stories. Sure, plenty who grew up with Alf have fond memories of the series, but the fact is that the writing never measured up to the show’s potential.
NBC could either do a revival that catches up with Alf today (preferably working out of the long-forgotten but rather funny Project: Alf movie that came after the show’s cancellation), or just do a full reboot. NBC needs to get writers equal to the talents of the lead puppet. If the network does, I’m sure a lot more people would tune in for an Alf return over The Munsters.
Definitely Do Not Reboot The Birds, Bring Back Quatermass
BBC has just recently announced ill-advised plans to do a television reboot of The Birds, the tale of birds going bat-shit crazy and turning on the human population of the planet. Alfred Hitchcock previously adapted Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 novella in 1963 and gave us a near flawless horror masterpiece. To its credit, BBC plans on going back to the original story and not the Hitchcock film. While there might be some potential, hasn’t the apocalyptic thing been done to death lately? If the British network really wants to bring back some classic sci-fi/horror to television, it need look no further than its own archives.
BBC should bring back Quatermass in a modern adaptation. This one is not as well-known to American audiences as it was not aired in the States, but it was one of the first TV shows to take science fiction seriously. Professor Quatermass starred in three serials in the 1950s (plus a final appearance in the late ’70s) in which he contended with alien threats of various kinds.
Those of us in the US will know his exploits better from the Hammer film adaptations, most notably the classic Five Million Years to Earth. The professor definitely deserves a reboot that has the budget to match its story aspirations. All three of the original serials would be perfect for a modern reworking, and there are plenty more alien tales that Quatermass could bring us beyond that. The Birds is a classic that deserves to go untouched, but Quatermass is a classic that would be served well by a better budget and plenty of respect given to the source material.
Don’t Give Us More Charmed, Revamp Kindred: The Embraced
The CW passed on adding a proposed Charmed reboot/prequel to its 2017–18 schedule, but The CW has not given up on the idea just yet. Originally, the network was considering a prequel of sorts that would have been set in the 1970s with ties to the original series. That has been shelved, but the network is still batting around some ideas with the property. However, if it wants to bring back a supernatural series, how about one that did not get the chance it deserved the first time around?
Kindred: The Embraced debuted on Fox in 1996 and it was based on the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. The series followed several vampire clans vying for power in the San Francisca area and delivered an interesting Godfather-with-vampires sort of tale. Sadly, its network did not give it the support it deserved, and it disappeared after a short mid-season run of only eight episodes.
It did develop some cult-infamy, and Showtime was considering reviving it before series star Mark Frankel died in a tragic motorcycle accident. The show had a ton of potential and was ahead of its time in 1996. It might find a more receptive audience today, though, and would be a good fit to fill the supernatural soap opera void that will be left on The CW’s schedule after The Originals wraps up next season.