Television revivals are all the rage. Recently it’s been reported that NBC is planning potential reboots of The Office and Mad About You, following the success of Will and Grace‘s return. Is this a sign of more things to come in 2018, or the end of a trend?
In the past two years, TV networks have become obsessed with reviving old shows. In 2016, FOX brought back The X-Files, NBC resurrected Heroes and Netflix offered new updates to Gilmore Girls and Full House. In 2017, FOX tried to reboot 24 and Prison Break, Showtime gave us a new season of Twin Peaks, Curb Your Enthusiasm came back to HBO and Will and Grace returned to NBC’s Must-See TV line-up.
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Now we’re heading into 2018, which already has ABC getting into the game with new versions of American Idol and Roseanne while CBS All Access has ordered a new version of The Twilight Zone. With recent news of NBC considering bringing back The Office and Mad About You, how much is too much?
It’s clear that, in the competitive world of the Golden Age of Television, networks are relying on name-brand recognition to lure in viewers (hence other recent shows like reboots of Dynasty on the CW and MacGyver on CBS). Can this trend last much longer, or will the networks run it into the ground?
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So far, the results have been mixed for the major networks. The X-Files and Will and Grace were both big hits, both critically and in the ratings. But 24: Legacy, Prison Break and Heroes Reborn were all short-lived, low-rated disasters. The lesson seems to be that at least a decade needs to pass before something can be revived. The three failures were all brought back too soon while Will and Grace waited for 11 years and The X-Files returned after 14 years.
By that logic, the new crop of revivals and potential revivals in 2018 are a mixed bag. For ABC, bringing back Roseanne could be a good idea (especially since it has Laurie Metcalf, who could easily become an Oscar winner for Lady Bird). But the revival of American Idol, which ended on FOX less than two years ago, feels like a terrible idea doomed for failure.
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On NBC, a Mad About You reboot with Paul Reiser (coming off Stranger Things) and Helen Hunt could work, though it would probably have to ignore the finale, which jumped ahead to 2021 to show what happened to all of the characters. But bringing back The Office, which aired its series finale less than five years ago, should probably be met with the same response Michael Scott had when Toby got his old job back.
At this point, it seems inevitable that the TV revival trend isn’t going anywhere. Everything old is new again and, even if there’s a high-profile bomb like what I assume American Idol will turn into, the major networks will probably still take a chance. A recognizable title or characters will always be easier to sell to an audience than something brand new.
So get ready for a 2018 filled with The X-Files and Will and Grace and American Idol and Roseanne and know that The Office and Mad About You won’t be the last familiar properties that will be coming back. The ’90s and early 2000s are all the rage and it will probably take a few more years for this trend to die down.
What old shows from the ’90s and early 2000s do you want to see rebooted next? For more TV news, like BuddyTV’s Facebook page.
(Image and video courtesy of NBC)