With broadcast and cable television becoming more and more passé, largely due to the rise of streaming, many old-school networks have been relying on some of their past successes. The way networks bring back their programs are done through two very specific ways: the reboot, where all continuity in an already established series or franchise is discarded and removed in favor of a new interpretation, and the revival, which essentially consists of a new season for a long-canceled show, and features the same cast and much of the same crew.
While these subgenres have been around for years, it almost feels like every other month has the return of some popular TV show. In terms of reboots released this year, examples include Netflix’s “One Day at a Time,” Disney XD’s “Ducktales” and The CW’s upcoming “Dynasty.” Meanwhile, revivals have exploded in production. The past few months saw the return of “Samurai Jack,” “Prison Break” and “Twin Peaks,” and next season will have shows like “Will & Grace,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Roseanne” and a second revival of “The X-Files,” fresh off the success of its previous return in 2016. Networks don’t seem to be stopping, as plans to revive shows like “King of the Hill” and “The L Word” are currently in negotiations.
While many of the more recent attempts to bring back television shows have been rather hit and miss, as shown with the lukewarm reception given towards the return of “Arrested Development” and 2016’s “X-Files”, there’s something rather exciting about seeing old characters again, whether it be a new interpretation of old characters and stories, as seen with the Latinx race-bending of “One Day” and the celebrity-packed cast of “Ducktales,” or having another adventure with the old crew in modern day times, as seen with the upcoming “Will & Grace” revival.
With such a massive boom, there are of course some groaners, such as the upcoming revival of “American Idol,” a show that nobody asked to come back in the first place. So, what exactly are the shows that should come back? What shows deserve a fresh new coat of reboot paint, and what shows deserve a revival, with the cast and crew returning one more time? While I don’t want to speak for everyone, there are a handful of television series made within the past few years that need something new made and have the potential to be something great.
The Twilight Zone
It seems weird to put this show on the list, since it was brought back not once, but twice. However, the show’s basic concept offers so much potential, and it still hasn’t cracked the surface. The basic concept for the series, for the few who may not know, had every episode consisting of its own short original story, each delving into genres like horror, sci-fi, fantasy and suspense, with a different cast and a different moral in almost every episode. Many of the most famous episodes of the series are considered some of the absolute best in television history, thanks to Rod Serling’s writing and the unique social and political commentary sprinkled into the show.
While Rod Serling is long gone, the ideas found in each of his scripts are still relevant today, and with the rise of modern technology and new political and societal tensions, an updated version of “The Twilight Zone” could lead to some provocative and profound stories that could lead to a worthy successor if in the right hands.
While some might be confused as to why “The Twilight Zone” should be rebooted yet again, especially since TV shows like “Black Mirror” have filled the void rather successfully, but no other show has been able to be as smart, as creative or as timeless as “Twilight Zone,” and the show’s constant blending of different genres can allow for more great stories and stand out among the television landscape.
The Nickelodeon series about a teenage boy named Danny Fenton who accidentally gains ghost powers after a freak accident and saves his town from evil ghouls and spirits under a secret identity named Danny Phantom has one of the best premises for a kids show, crossing over the teenage superhero angst of “Spider-Man” with the ghost-battling action of “Ghostbusters.” The show offered fun comedy, memorable characters, and fantastic character designs for the enemies Danny had to fight in each episode.
What makes this show prime for a return is how both a reboot or revival can be satisfying. While “Danny Phantom” did take itself more seriously than other Nicktoons at the time, it was still pretty goofy, taking a lot of inspiration of its tone from creator Butch Hartman’s other hit “The Fairly OddParents,” and while the show was still good, a lot of the great horror or suspense-themed ideas the show could generate were scrapped. A great way to reboot the series is to make it darker and more serious. A show about a half-kid half-ghost fighting monsters and other ghosts can easily work into the realm of horror, so having a fun but also scary family show would really make it stand out from its predecessor.
A continuation from the show’s original run would be just as good. A lot of characters and story arcs were never really complete, and the third and final season saw a huge decline in quality, mainly due to a number of writers leaving the show during that time. So, bringing back some of the old crew to write new and exciting episodes, as well as make up for the lackluster writing at the series’ conclusion would be satisfying to fans and get newcomers interested in the franchise.
With Nickelodeon currently bringing back some of their other Nicktoons like “Rocko” and “Hey Arnold!,” it’s very likely Nick will give the ghost boy another shot, and no matter what decision they make, it’ll be great to see “Danny Phantom” back to fighting ghosts one more time.
A spin-off from “Beavis and Butthead,” Daria was an MTV comedy about a cynical, monotone teenage girl named Daria and her observations about all of the stupid parts of high school life and how it’s portrayed in media. What made the series so memorable was the writing and the two leads, Daria and her friend Jane. The dialogue is able to be funny but also relatable, thanks to Daria’s witty and snarky observations as well as the likable supporting cast, consisting of every high school stereotype ever conceived. The show’s audience was able to relate to Daria, as while not every viewer was a jaded pessimist, her observations about how awful high school is can be close to home for many people, making Daria the voice for an entire generation of young adults. Add her with Jane, another cynic who finds high school stupid, and viewers will get to experience some of the best chemistry between two leads of a television show.
Watching Daria make remarks about all of the terrible conventions and tropes found within high school was enjoyable, but what could be really interesting is seeing where Daria and Jane are now as adults. Much like high school, adult life is full of stupid and moronic ideas society and the media tries to push, so seeing the two take sarcastic jabs at all of the stupid things about life as adults, like dating and the workforce, could lead to some great potential in terms of both comedy and evolving the characters.
Co-creator Susie Lewis recently made concept art of what the cast would like 20 years later, and while it was just intended to commemorate the show’s 20th anniversary, I still want to see how Daria and Jane react to the confusing world of adult life.
The show that turned Michael J. Fox into a superstar, “Family Ties” was a family sitcom about the political generation gap in the 80s, as shown between the conflict between the parents and their son, Alex P. Keaton, played by Fox. The parents are former hippies, attached to their liberal way of thinking. Fox is a young Republican, obsessed with Reaganomics. The difference between both ways of thinking represented the cultural shifts occurring in the 1980s, where hippie culture was considered outdated by the new generation, while conservatism and materialism was in, creating a massive generational shift that defined the political climate of the 1980s.
Today is very much the same, but in reverse, as liberalism has become the defining politics for the youth, in spite of the more conservative perspective of their parents. Bringing back a show that defined the 80s in an attempt to capture the political and generational tensions of the 2010s can work greatly to its favor, offering perspective and understanding on how the other generation works and thinks to both young and old. However, “Family Ties” could really only work as a straight-up reboot, as I doubt audiences would want to see Michael J. Fox reprise his iconic role while he still suffers from Parkinson’s. But again, a show like “Family Ties” deserves to have some sort of return, especially if it can be used as a voice for the current political climate.
Any Show with a Cliffhanger
“Deadwood.” “Pushing Daisies.” “Southland.” You name it. One of the worst things about TV is how often a show’s length is cut prematurely. Whether it be due to low ratings, network disinterest or other outside factors, hundreds, if not thousands of television shows were unable to wrap up their stories. Every time a season ends with a cliffhanger, I immediately get worried. There’s no guarantee the incomplete storylines will be resolved come next year, because most shows don’t get the chance to finish what they originally intended. Even if the show itself wasn’t all that good, it’s better to just have a complete story then leave plot threads hanging and never resolved. It’s true many TV shows were canceled for financially sound reasons, and I doubt another season for a series like “Pushing Daisies” will be a ratings smash, but giving fans not just a return of old characters but a wrap-up to what was originally planned will lead to a lot of buzz and a lot of satisfaction.
While the shows listed above aren’t guaranteed to be just as strong as before, there’s plenty of potential for something decent and it will still be fun to see timeless characters in brand new adventures.