Cutting through the clutter: the pros and cons of network TV revivals - 660 NEWS
Loading articles...

Cutting through the clutter: the pros and cons of network TV revivals

Last Updated May 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm MDT

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" cast members Terry Crews, left, Joe Lo Truglio, Stephanie Beatriz, Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero and Andre Braugher pose together at the 2018 NBCUniversal Upfront at Rockefeller Plaza on Monday, May 14, 2018, in New York. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

TORONTO – It’s official: network TV has given up on anyone under 50.

How else to explain so many reboots of decades-old TV series? With the revival of “Roseanne” being the No. 1 “new” series in the U.S. and Canada, and renewals for “Will & Grace” on NBC/Global, “Dynasty” on The CW and “Lost in Space” on Netflix, oldies have never been more “in.”

There are several key reasons for this TV trend. With the number of series at an all-time high, broadcasters and OTT channels alike are looking for any way to cut through the clutter. Brands that already have name recognition seem to get green-lit first.

Also, for studios that still hold the rights to these revivals, bringing shows back is like finding money in the back of a vault. As for the series just rescued from cancellation, such as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (moving to NBC this fall), “Last Man Standing” (a Fox pick-up) and “Designated Survivor” (being eyed by Netflix), the longer they run, the more money the studios can make in worldwide sales.

Bringing old shows back, however, isn’t always a sure bet. For every successful “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, there are dozens of misfires such as “Dallas,” “The X-Files,” “24: Legacy” and “Heroes: Revisited.”

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of network revivals set to return this fall:

“Murphy Brown” (returning Thursdays this fall on CBS)

Pro: Star Candice Bergen is back, as are original cast mates Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto, and Grant Shaud. So is original creator and executive producer Diane English.

Con: Key cast members have passed away: Robert Pastorelli (Eldin the painter) and Pat Corley (Bar owner Phil).

Bottom line: The original “Murphy Brown” (1988-98) already ran seven seasons too long. It stopped being funny around the time then-U.S. vice-president Dan Quayle attacked the series for its depiction of unmarried motherhood. At best, this is an hour-long anniversary special.

“Magnum, P.I.” (Mondays on CBS)

Pro: CBS has been striking gold with procedurals since, well, the first time around with “Magnum.” Their revival of the series that preceded “Magnum,” “Hawaii Five-0,” is entering its ninth season. The Canadian-born producer behind that revival, Peter Lenkov, is behind “Magnum.”

Con: The star of the original was Tom Selleck’s moustache. Can new lead Jay Hernandez (“Scandal”) even grow a moustache?

Bottom line: The odds of success are pretty high — CBS has given him a new Ferrari, kept him a Detroit Tigers fan and cast a female “Higgins” character, played by Perdita Weeks.

“FBI” (Tuesdays on CBS)

Pro: A stellar cast, including Montreal native Missy Peregrym (“Rookie Blue”) and Jeremy Sisto (“Suburgatory”). Produced by franchise king Dick Wolf (“Law & Order”).

Con: Does anybody remember “The FBI,” which starred Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and ran in the late ’60s, early ’70s?

Bottom Line: This series will likely find an audience — it isn’t really a revival, but a new take on the modern FBI, of which Wolf is a big fan (even if U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t). CBS has also hammocked it between two hits, “NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans.”

“Street Legal” (returning to CBC)

Pro: The original, a Toronto-based courtroom soap opera, was a big hit for CBC from 1987 to 1994. Original cast member Cynthia Dale is confirmed to reprise her role as Olivia Novak.

Con: They’re only ordering six episodes — likely not enough for a new show to establish a fanbase.

Bottom line: Hard to handicap with not much information available at this point, but CBC would have little to lose putting this back on Friday nights. Its odds of success would improve if ex-cast member Eric Peterson is brought back as a cranky judge who yells “Jackass!” a lot.

“Charmed” (Sundays on The CW)

Pro: The CW rarely cancels anything, so it could have a long run.

Con: Alyssa Milano added a lot of the charm, and tabloid trigger Shannen Doherty a lot of the drama, to the original “Charmed,” which ran from 1998-2006. But neither are back in this version. Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, Madeleine Mantock play the new trio of BFF witches.

Bottom line: The CW rarely cancels anything.

—Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.