The Other 1990s TV Shows That Deserve a Reboot
If TV execs insist on rebooting shows from the 1990s, could they please start with these ones?
This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
A Sabrina The Teenage Witch reboot happened. A Buffy The Vampire Slayer reboot is happening. A Frasier reboot is being discussed. Roseanne, Twin Peaks, and The X-Files have come back with long-delayed sequels, and gone away again. Are there any 1990s TV shows left that could be rebooted? Of course there are! But do we actually want to see a reboot of any of those shows? Well, maybe. Here are a few suggestions for those TV execs looking for an easy hit.
While we’re always up for more Star Trek or Stargate, but those have established franchises, and we’d probably rather see more exploration of their worlds in general than a reboot of previous characters – both have already got at least one reboot of some kind in the bag anyway (the recent Star Trek movies, and the whole of Stargate SG-1, which is a reboot of the 1994 movie), and both have produced spin-offs in 2017-2018 already (Star Trek: Discovery and Stargate: Origins).
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman
Pros: With Superman mythology dominated by DCEU darkness, this ray of light is exactly what we need. Lois & Clark was such a fluffy, happy show, it didn’t even kill off Pa Kent. A reboot of this series might help audiences to rediscover the magic and the joy of Superman, as brought to the screen so well in the 1978 Richard Donner movie.
further reading: Revisiting Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Cons: A Superman reboot isn’t exactly a new idea. There haven’t just been one or two Superman reboots, renewals and re-hashes over the years, there have been dozens, across TV, film, and comics. There’s already a Superman prequel series on TV right now (Krypton). Audiences hungry for new ideas aren’t necessarily going to flock to this.
Casting tip: Superman’s genuine earnestness can be tricky to pull off – a Hemsworth brother might be a good choice.
Kenan And Kel
Pros: Sabrina The Teenage Witch already got a “darker” reboot. What other Nickelodeon favorites could see a 21st century reboot? There are plenty of options (Sister, Sister or Are You Afraid Of The Dark? might have potential) but Kenan And Kel has a major advantage – one its stars, Kenan Thompson, is the longest-tenured cast member ever on Saturday Night Live.
Rather than a reboot with young actors, this show could be ripe for a follow-up. Create a Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? style poignant sitcom about youth and adulthood and growing up starring an alumnus of Saturday Night Live and you could have a real hit on your hands.
Cons: Extremely delayed sequels have been tried a few times lately, and met with mixed success.
Casting tip: Kenen Thompson and Kel Mitchell are key to this idea.
Xena: Warrior Princess
Pros: Despite all the talk in recent years, the last we heard said that the Xena reboot is a no go, which is a real pity. Xena is an awesome, kick-ass lead character with a dark past (so if a ‘darker’ reboot was preferred, it would be very easy to do). Her relationship with Gabrielle was heavily implied to be romantic at the time, but the series stopped short of embracing them fully as a couple. A 21st century reboot could portray them as romantic leads and offer audiences a fully realised love story between two women who contrast with and complement each other.
Cons: Lucy Lawless as Xena is one of those iconic marriages of character and casting, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Casting tip: Bianca Lawson has form as an ass-kicking heroine, having played Kendra in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, while the younger, gentler, but tough at the core Gabrielle could perhaps be played by Evanna Lynch or Bonnie Wright.
Pros: Many of the shows on this list were light and fluffy entertainment, which was part of their charm – in some cases, this is what makes a reboot appealing, in others, a reboot would inevitably end up ‘darker’. In the case of Quantum Leap (creator Donald Bellisario already has a movie script for a proposed revival) such tweaking is unnecessary. Thanks in part to its extremely flexible format, Quantum Leap in its original incarnation already blended drama and comedy, light and dark perfectly. The core concept of the show is positive – one man tries to change the world for the better, one life at a time – but episodes tackled serious issues in a dramatic and often heart-wrenching way. A new Sam Beckett, travelling through a slightly different lifetime (1970s-2000s instead of 1950s-1980s) could experience a whole new range of lives and difficulties.
further reading: Quantum Leap: An Episode Roadmap for Beginngers
Cons: If, like the original, a reboot was set in the very near future, it would, like the original, get dated very quickly. And Al’s lecherous comments over many of the female guest starts would have to go (though to be fair, Sam always protested even at the time).
Casting tip: Another bit of iconic casting, difficult to re-capture. The relationship between Sam and Al is key, so two actors with a previously established rapport might be a good idea – Amy Poehler and Tina Fey would bring a broader sense of comedy to the show if it were to be gender flipped, or if not, perhaps Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki might be interested, if Supernatural ever actually ends.
Pros: Like Quantum Leap, Sliders had a highly flexible format, with our heroes visiting a different parallel Earth each week. In the first season, these parallel Earths were largely based around alternate history (plus a few alternate geographies). A reboot could explore the idea of alternate history and the ways the world could be different in an updated setting, including modern technologies and inverses of modern political situations. And clearly John Rhys-Davies and Jerry O’Connell agree. The two have been in touch with NBC about a possible Sliders revival.
Cons: The simplicity of Sliders’ concept is key to its appeal. However, the current fashion for complex, arc-based plotting means a reboot would probably adopt a lot of the arc-based story-telling of later seasons, which met with varying degrees of success at the time.
further reading: Sliders Essential Viewing Guide
Casting tip: Sliders’ core cast featured characters with close friendships across a wide age range, like more recent sitcom Community. Some of Community’s cast might make good Sliders and would have good chemistry with each other – we’d suggest Donald Glover as Quinn, Alison Brie as Wade, Joel McHale as Rembrandt and Yvette Nicole Brown as (gender-flipped) Arturo.
3rd Rock From The Sun
Pros: 3rd Rock From The Sun was all about aliens adjusting to life on Earth and learning about Earth and its ways. A re-booted series with an updated setting would allow them to encounter all new issues including social media, new technologies and so on, offering an opportunity for fresh comedy along the way.
further reading: The Best TV Comedies On Amazon Prime
Cons: While the idea that the protagonists’ own species does not differentiate between male and female is an interesting one, a reboot might want to include more than one alien in a female body, and perhaps avoid being put into a female body being the result of drawing the short straw.
Casting tip: Cast whoever you want in the main roles, as long as you keep William Shatner as the Big Giant Head!
The West Wing
Pros: An idealistic show about a hard working and conscientious American President sounds like what the world needs right now. Either a reboot or a sequel (which has been mooted occasionally) would be welcome.
Cons: Having started in 1999, The West Wing only just qualifies as a 1990s show. It was extremely well known and is very well remembered – it might be a bit too soon for a reboot, while at the same time rather late for a sequel (not that that’s stopped anyone lately!).
Casting tip: If a sequel were to be preferred, rather than a reboot, the new President could be Dulé Hill’s Charlie Young, Elisabeth Moss’s Zoey Bartlet, or Alison Janney’s CJ Cregg.
Pros: Imagine if Friends were to be rebooted, but with realistic Manhattan apartment sets in all their tiny, cramped glory!
Cons: It’s really just six people living in New York City – it would be better to write six fresh characters for a new show than re-hash an old one.
further reading: Ross and Rachel Weren’t Supposed to Break Up on Friends
Casting tip: This sort of show works best by casting fresh, largely unknown faces and giving them household fame and iconic hairstyles.
Pros: It’s a show set in a hospital emergency room. These shows tend to run for a long time, because you never really run out of stories set in a hospital. ER also featured a strong pilot and likeable cast of characters, though the cast completely changed over the course of its 15-year run.
Cons: Like Friends, there’s no real need to reboot an old show – it would be easier simply to write a new drama set in a hospital emergency room.
Casting tip: Just bring George Clooney back, he’s basically ageless.
Or TV executive producers could hire some new writers with new ideas to produce new shows. That would be lovely. But we’re sticking to realistic options here.