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FiTV: The resounding thud of the reboot

Recently, I was clearing out an old cabinet full of audio cassettes and CD’s. It’s was like a time capsule of my past, each song bringing back a memory. Television networks love our sense of nostalgia.

Recently, I was clearing out an old cabinet full of audio cassettes and CD’s.  It’s was like a time capsule of my past, each song bringing back a memory. 

Television networks love our sense of nostalgia.  In an ultra-competitive entertainment industry, bringing back the old for one or two memory-filled nights is usually rating gold.

So it’s no surprise that the studios are reviving shows to which we long thought we’d bid a fond farewell.  This past season, MacGyver returned after 24 years sans Richard Dean Anderson and his mullet.  Lethal Weapon was a surprise hit thanks to newcomer Clayne Crawford’s take on Mel Gibson’s crazed character.  And after nearly a decade, obsessed Gilmore Girls fans got a four-episode revival on Netflix.

However, one reboot barely waited for the body to get cold.  Just 13 months after Fox memorialized American Idol’s “Finale Year,” ABC won a minor bidding war to purchase the show and install Katy Perry at the helm.

Reboots can certainly bring fresh ideas to an old story.  Yet, some still call this lazy.  Stagnation instead of inspiration.

Meanwhile, others figure, “Why fix what ain’t broke?” and look to former stars to reprise their roles.  Twin Peaks recently returned with Kyle MacLachlan still enjoying his coffee amid many of the original quirky characters.

Roseanne will also resume with its original cast.  However, since the last season was revealed as the imaginative writings of a widow dealing with the sudden death of Dan, I’m not sure how John Goodman is involved.  And audiences have shown little interest in Roseanne Barr’s recent projects.  So will anyone show up for this reunion?

Will & Grace’s mini-episode during the recent election morphed into a half-season order from NBC.  This ground-breaking comedy ended a decade ago while still a hit.  But I see a couple of potential problems. 

First, Leslie Jordan’s delightful Beverly was blown off a balcony and died in the finale.  Yet, he was the first to announce his return. 

Furthermore, the series ended with our heroes living separate lives – married and settled with kids.  The original magic came from their perpetually immature misfit-ness.  Their humour was somewhat juvenile but the in-your-face stereotype LGBT jokes were necessary at a time when homosexuality was mostly whispered on TV. 

Will fans allow for changes to their beloved characters?  Or will we discover they haven’t changed at all … and time (and society) has passed them by? 

It’s like looking up your old flame on Facebook.  Even if you’re not horrified by what you see, how many of us would really want to hook up with that again? 

According to Jennifer Aniston, a Friends revival will never happen because it thrived in a time when people weren’t absorbed by their phones and instead, enjoyed hanging out in a room together just talking to one other.  Today’s audience wouldn’t relate.

So will these reboots find the magic is still there?  Or is it only magical because it lives in the soft-focus of our memory?