The hot topic du jour in the TV game is reboots. Late last week, CBS went nuts and announced that three series from their past are returning in the fall (assuming the pilots are any good). One, “Murphy Brown,” has a series order already and will again star Candace Bergen and some of the other original cast members. The other two, “Magnum, P.I.,” and “Cagney and Lacey,” appear to be reworks of the original series.
This is on top of the return of “Roseanne” (ABC) in March, the successful (at least for a while) reboot of “Will & Grace” (NBC) and a third coming of “The X-Files” over at FOX. Even The CW got in the act with a reworking of “Dynasty,” which is barely doing even so-so by their standards. (The CW also just ordered a pilot for a reworking of “Roswell.”)
Everyone likes to rag on the networks, but last I looked, Netflix has rebooted “Full House” and reworked “One Day at a Time,” after rebooting “Arrested Development” a few years ago. They are also reimagining “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Showtime brought back “Twin Peaks,” and you know that there are spinoffs of “Game of Thrones” in the works at HBO. Of course, they will call it something other than a spinoff, and everyone will jump up and down with glee.
If you are paying attention, you may have noticed that I’ve used the terms, “reboot,” “rework” and “reimagine.” For me a reboot is when you continue a series/story with some of the original cast returning. A rework is when you take the original concept for the show and stick to the essence but update it with a new (younger) cast. A reimagining is when you take a show or a character and come at it from a completely different perspective … sort of a what-if.
There’s also the spinoff, where characters from one show branch off on their own. Finally, there are the “colonized” shows where several series are branded as being part of a franchise (a la “NCIS,” “CSI,” “Law & Order” and NBC’s “Chicago” shows).
I’m sure some out there may quibble with the definitions, but my point is that this has been going on in the business for quite some time. It seems for some to have hit some critical mass in the past few seasons.
Thursday I will save you the time of reading the countless analyses of why this is happening by positing six possible reasons. Every article that you read on this topic will be some variation of these six theories.
The irony of all this is that the very people who are criticizing the lack of creativity in the business are displaying their own lack of creativity in feeling that they all have to write about the phenomenon.
To be continued …