mr belvedere

It’s a question I’m sure you’ve asked yourself. Why does originally seem to have been put on pause as TV shows get endlessly remade or “revamped” for a 2.0 series. At first, it seemed to have a novelty about it. But now we’re sick of it. Bill Carter of The New York Times just wrote a piece about why the studios insist on making these TV remakes, even when so many of them do badly.

TV shows that have been remade and failed (by being canceled or by my own judgment/ratings) include: Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Melrose Place,  90210, and The Twilight Zone (which had Jessica Simpson battling barbies in an episode). When they tried to translate Terminator into a TV series, it also failed. TV fans aren’t so forgiving (nor should we be!) – if they’re going to invest in a show that means they’re investing time and emotion. If somethings not good, we won’t watch it. (Although in the case of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles it wasn’t a case of being bad, it was a case of bad ratings.)

It’s simply easier to make a bad movie and have it be successful than make a bad TV show and have it be successful. The article points out that older TV shows that get made into movies do fairly well. You’ll give a two hour reboot a try. But sticking around for an entire series? Not so much. Because we only want a taste. And if we actually like the reboot (like so many fans liked Transformers and Star Trek) then they can make another movie.

I think much of the problem lies with romancing the past. Even if an original show wasn’t that good, it can seem almost sacrilege to have new people playing these parts. Because we remember it as better than it was, so it’s hard to compete!

And as great as a show was sometimes you want it left alone. Even as Veronica Mars was still on the air, several fans wanted the show to be canceled because they didn’t like the direction the show had taken and wanted to preserve the good memories they had. (I was not one of those people, I would have watched every new season!) The thing is, we’re stubborn and we know what we like. And it’s easy to decide that we don’t like something, when there’s so much STUFF for us to like out there.

“The identity of a hit TV series is so intimately tied to the original stars, style and attitude that made it a hit in the first place that any deviation from that creates a real sense of aesthetic dissonance,” said Robert J. Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University.

“This may be one case where an established brand is more a liability than an asset. In television, it’s a much safer approach to rip off an old idea than to try to remake one. It’s a perfectly plausible plan to develop a new TV show about three beautiful women fighting crime in fabulous clothes; maybe not such a good idea to call it ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ ”

You know what? They DID make a new Charlie’s Angels for TV – it was called She Spies, and it was a guilty pleasure show that ran for several seasons!

What TV studios need to realize is that while an established concept works well with movies, it doesn’t translate well to TV screens. So, don’t you dare try to remake Designing Women, Silver Spoons or Mr. Belvedere.