Tube Talk: Remakes and updates
By Paula Hendrickson
Some remakes are even better than the originals, like Battlestar Galactica. Others fall flat. A couple of fairly recent not-so-classic clunkers were NBC’s ill-fated, yet much-hyped, remakes of The Bionic Woman and Knight Rider.
Did they fail because they weren’t as well made as the originals? (Have you seen the originals?) The special effects on 2007’s Bionic Woman were amazing, but effects alone can’t make a show watchable. Was it because the promotional campaigns led us to expect a lot more of the shows?
Or maybe it was because the originals didn’t have enough meat to them to warrant remakes? I don’t remember it too clearly, but even as a kid I thought the original BSG was little more than a cheesy space romp. The genius of the remake was that they took the basic concept, then went in the opposite direction to create a dark drama tackling big issues like race, religion and politics.
Some old shows are revived, but aren’t technically remakes. They’re more like expansions of the originals.
The CW has had some success with 90210, an update of Fox’s Beverly Hills 90210, yet its Melrose Place update is struggling to attract a decent audience—even after getting Heather Locklear to resurrect her classic MP character, Amanda Woodward. It took 90210 a full season to find its footing, so with recent cast changes (bye-bye Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Collin Egglesfield) perhaps Melrose Place will be able to do the same.
One of the biggest remakes hitting the air this fall is ABC’s V. After just one episode, V already shows more promise, and subtlety, than the 1983 mini-series and 1984-85 series. The new V is a fresh re-interpretation of the original concept, this time drawing parallels with terrorism instead of evil empires. We’ll only get a taste of V this fall. The rest of the season returns in early 2010.
Another revival arrives Nov. 15, when AMC unveils its three-night re-imagining of the classic 1967 British cult classic, The Prisoner.
Will the new mini-series be as good as the original series? I remember being captivated by repeats of the original series on PBS when I was a kid. I was too young to understand the political and social allegories, yet I still appreciated the unique look and style of the show (especially the giant bouncing bubble balls that chased Number Six when he tried to escape).
Even if it doesn’t measure up to the original, it can’t be all bad given its estimable cast, including Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two and Jim Caviezel as Number Six. Can Caviezel fill the role made famous by Patrick McGoohan? We’ll have to tune in to see. If nothing else, it might encourage more people to check out the original series, which is available on DVD and is also viewable at amctv.com.
902190—Tuesdays at 7 p.m., The CW
Melrose Place—Tuesdays at 8 p.m., The CW
V—Tuesdays at 7 p.m., ABC
The Prisoner—Sunday-Tuesday, Nov. 15-17, at 7-9 p.m., AMC
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the November 11-17, 2009 issue
Print This Article