It seems that at the current time, we are being swept away by a torrent of rebooted television shows. The X-Files is filming six brand new episodes, and David Lynch has finally signed on the dotted line to deliver a new season of Twin Peaks. We will soon be seeing resuscitations of Full House, Coach, Mr. Show and The Muppet Show, too, as well as some more Arrested Development. This determination to return to the familiar gives TV networks and streaming channels something of an air of nervousness, but when audiences are given the opportunity to revisit old favourites, is that such a bad thing?
For as long as there has been television, there has been dedicated television fandom. In today’s society, this fandom often takes the form of co-ordinated campaigns that try to keep dying productions on the air – a notable trend that seems to demonstrate our inability to let things go. But, this new wave of television reboots is not a desperate attempt to prop up shows that have no life left in them. Nor is it simply an attempt to cash-in on old, recycled ideas. Instead, it is an opportunity to tell brand new stories using beloved formats.
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The television landscape of today is crowded with titles vying for attention on an increasing number of outlets, and the ideas that succeed are far outweighed by those that quickly wash-out. It is difficult to generate a brand new audience for a brand new show, because the marketplace is adrift in a sea of publicity for so many productions. Very few make it, and even fewer join the elite ranks of TV shows that people remember for decades to come. Returning to those that do brings immediate attention, a built-in audience and, most importantly, a safe bet for the viewer when the reboot is done right.
So, what does it take to get a reboot right? It takes the use of an old idea as a foundation for new storylines and different scenarios. Taking a show from 20 years ago and updating it to modern-day brings all sorts of new opportunities, for example. The trick is to use a premise that ties in to the original show, honours its legacy and moves it forward effectively. Not all old favourites are suitable for such treatment, but let’s take a look at five that are.