Channeling the Reboot

Boy Meets World

During its seven-season run, the ’90s classic Boy Meets World captured viewers with its coming-of-age characters and every-day’s-a-lesson episodes. The ABC comedy followed Cory Matthews, the show’s protagonist, into Mr. Feeney’s history class, through the halls of John Adams High, and eventually down the aisle with Topanga Lawrence. After such a fulfilling conclusion, Boy Meets World fans may have been surprised by Disney’s recent announcement to produce Girl Meets World, a sequel focusing on Cory and Topanga’s preteen daughter. So, with the vague promise of such a spin-off lingering in the near future, we couldn’t help but wonder: What other shows would make for a good reboot? Which shows should should be left untouched?

Gilligan’s Island
Gilligan’s Island: What some might call the original, more humorous Lost. While the show, with the unmistakable sing-along theme song, now seems outdated and funny simply because of its now kitschy retro vibe, with a new cast and a more modern twist, this classic stranded on a desert island show has the potential to be rebooted and reinvigorated with new laughs. The extremely polarized cast makes for some great comedic situations, and personally, I think it’s safe to say we’d all like to see those retro costumes adapted to the modern day.

Those that grew up in the ’90s will remember Nickelodeon’s Doug as a staple in the after school cartoon lineup. Despite only being on the air for three years, Doug was a widely successful kids’ program, excelling in its realistic depiction of school life, first love, and American family life. Such timeless themes would make the show an excellent candidate for a modern reboot and an animation makeover. After all, who doesn’t want to see more of the romance between Doug and Patty Mayonnaise, hear more of the absurd sounds that Skeeter makes, or listen again to the Shakespearean angst of older sister Judy?

The West Wing
Hailed as one of the best TV shows of all time, The West Wing featured an all-star cast, including Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, and Martin Sheen, who made up just several of the Bartlett White House, a breathtaking and inspiring presidency that often seemed more real than the one unfolding in front of our eyes in reality. Episodes like “Shibboleth” maintain their almost lyrical qualities today, as beacons of hope and triumph over adversity that are not only brilliantly written but also eloquently acted and scored. Other shows may attempt to breach the halls of the Oval Office, but a completely different dynamic would need to be established. There are those who could create a very different West Wing-possibly with a Republican president instead-but the tone would be different. Nonetheless, it’s the type of program TV is severely lacking today.

The Twilight Zone
A pioneer of American television, The Twilight Zone established the formula for the success of the spooky and surreal primetime programs during its run in the ’60s. From monsters to ghosts to space travel, the thrilling series sufficiently spooked families and inspired a long list of spin-offs and rip-offs. While it has been unsuccessfully rebooted a few times before, a fresh renovation of The Twilight Zone with the addition of modern special effects could bring the series back to its originally creepy form. On top of that, the current success of shows such as American Horror Story proves that viewers still have a fascination with the spooky and spectacular.

Little House on the Prairie
Adapted from the charming, adored novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Little House series was produced by NBC in 1974. It chronicled the pioneer life of the Ingalls, an American family of the late-1800s, and was undeniably successful, running for almost 10 years. Current shows, like the instant Brit hit Downton Abbey, have proved that period series have potential. Imagine a Minnesota farmhouse instead of an English estate. Picture a flourishing romance between Laura and Almanzo, rather than one between Lady Mary and Mr. Crawley. Change the characters, country, and year, but keep the romance, drama, and costumes, and Little House could be a timeless favorite once again.

Don’t Reboot

Twin Peeks
David Lynch’s creepy and still influential series ran for two short seasons in the early 1990s but lives on with later generations through Netflix. On paper, Twin Peaks had a simple concept-a missing girl from a small town was discovered dead, and an out of town detective was hired to solve the case. As the series unfolded, though, Lynch proved his mastery of the small screen with harrowing camera angles, bizarre subplots (many involving midgets and druggy dreams), and  overall inspired take on a tried and true formula. Nothing could ever top his fantastical, over the top to the point of perfection program, but with the rise in popularity of Ryan Murphy’s graphic American Horror Story, Lynch-or his contemporaries-should return to the screen to prove that suspense doesn’t need the gore.

NBC’s Friends, regarded as one of the most entertaining sitcoms ever, revolves around the lives of six friends. Bringing viewers on an amusing and poignant life journey, the 1994, Manhattan-set comedy ended with-after 10 seasons-a flawless, satisfying close. Thus, a remake would be both unwelcome and unsuccessful (remember Joey?). Casting the original crew would be an immense challenge and recruiting a new one would destine the show to failure. Think about it: Could anyone but Matt LaBlanc own the “How you doin’?” line? Could anyone but Lisa Kudrow sing about smelly cats? No and no. Considering a reboot, even Chandler would say, “Could you BE any more stupid?”

The Swan
Perhaps the most morally reprehensible reality television show of all time, The Swan took women whom society, and even themselves, labeled as ‘ugly’ and gave them an entire full body makeover (entirely paid for), including, but not limited to, face lifts, breast implants, and liposuction. Regardless of the potential things that could be changed to make the show logistically better, as it would now be considered dated, the premise of the show itself is something that society should be relieved doesn’t exist anymore, for the sake of self-esteems everywhere.

It might not have connected with all demographics, but there are those out there who consider this highbrow sitcom to be one of the best comedies in the history of TV comedy. Originally a spin-off of Cheers, Frasier excelled with its witty dialogue, yuppie situational comedy, and terrific performances from Kelsey Grammer and company. It’s a show that had exceptional timing, televised during an era of economic boom and social mobility. In the rough fiscal state that this country is in now, characters bantering about the trivial tribulations of white collar life might not connect as well with today’s audiences.

Friday Night Lights
Other television shows will inevitably tackle high school football as their central narratives, but FNL creators Peter Berg and Jason Katim should never in a 1,000 years sell the rights to their show’s title to anyone other than themselves. It’s been beaten to death, but Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton’s expert and intricate portrayals of Coach and Mrs. Coach showed viewers the most beautiful, honest marriage the screen has ever seen. Football players cycled in and out season after season, but the dynamic worked due to Chandler and Britton, the show’s anchors. A movie is in the works-and hopefully, a nail in the flawless show’s coffin.

Gilmore Girls
Noted for its distinct dialogue, touching comedy, and rooted emotion, The WB’s Gilmore Girls examined the relationship between Lorelai and her teenage daughter Rory. The achievement of the series rested in its dynamic familial themes and its cross-generational appeal, as well as in the talent of and chemistry between the lead actresses, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. Reworking the show, then, would be too chancy a trial: not only would it be dependent upon the re-casting of Graham and Bledel, but it would also be at risk for seeming emotionally contrived and thematically overdone.

The Sopranos
While on the air, The Sopranos garnered a cult-like following and put HBO on the map as a prime cable provider. While the characters were hard to relate to for audiences outside the New York-Tristate Area (and of course, this area made up the majority of the show’s fan base), the humanized portrayal of gangsters allowed curious viewers an interesting insight into a world very few know. Framed through intimate sessions with a psychologist, viewers came to love the anti-hero Tony Soprano and his over-the-top family, both real and mafia. While many miss the show, this soon-to-be classic is too perfect to retouch.


November 7, 2012
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