Everything old is new again. That’s the next trend on television.
It’s not just the fact that past favorites, some of them decades old, are being resurrected for the coming TV season. There is almost always something like that in the development hopper.
But this year the industry is bursting at the seams with nostalgia. There are already more than a half-dozen once-popular TV shows in various stages of reconstruction.
Here’s the latest roll call: Fox is bringing back The X-Files with its original stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson; NBC is resuscitating Heroes as Heroes Reborn, with fan favorites Masi Oka and Jack Coleman on board; Showtime wants to make another season of Twin Peaks, 25 years later (although the plan recently hit a snag); and NBC is also bringing back Coach with Craig T. Nelson.
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And there’s more, although the status of these returns is “iffier”: a Full House follow-up for Netflix; another run of The Muppet Show for ABC; another season of 24 for Fox (without Kiefer Sutherland); and another season of Arrested Development (for a network yet to be identified).
In most cases, network executives have stressed that these are not “remakes” but “continuations” with the original stars, in the same vein as TNT’s 20-years-later revival of Dallas in 2012, Netflix’s six-years-later look at Arrested Development in 2013 and Fox’s four-years-later return for 24 in 2014.
“I think of it as a 13-year commercial break,” Chris Carter, creator and executive producer of paranormal thriller The X-Files, says of the approach he’ll be taking in a six-episode season. “The good news is the world has gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”
Here’s a closer look at what we can expect to find in the TV recycle bin:
The original, starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, ran for nine seasons (1993-2002), spawned two feature films (1998 and 2008) and won 16 Emmys and a Peabody Award. There’s no telling what spooky cases the duo will tackle in their six episodes on Fox. The premise allows any kind of story.
One week could involve invaders from space; the next, a creepy “fluke” monster. But Duchovy recently teased on Late Show that old favorites Cigarette Smoking Man (played by William B. Davis) and Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) will show up. Filming begins in summer 2015.
The first season of Heroes, about ordinary people who use newfound superhuman abilities to save the world, was a TV sensation. Masi Oka (as Hiro, the time-hopping office drone) and Hayden Panettiere (as Claire, the indestructible cheerleader) became overnight stars.
The subsequent three seasons of the 2006-2010 show spiraled out of control, so maybe it’s best that Heroes Reborn will hold to just 13 episodes. Oka and Jack Coleman (as HRG, aka the man with Horned Rimmed Glasses) are set to return. Zachary Levi (formerly of Chuck) heads up the new cast. The new series is scheduled to premiere on NBC in fall 2015.
Viewers were obsessed with finding out who killed Laura Palmer when this cult favorite premiered in 1990. The small-town serial lost its way in Season 2, but news of a nine-episode Showtime run, with creators David Lynch and Mark Frost re-creating their unique fever-dream style, was greeted with excitement.
Several original cast members, including Kyle MacLachlan as cherry pie-loving FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, are supposed to return. Alas, Lynch recently had a very public falling out with the network over budget matters, but Showtime execs intend to move forward. The network has promised a 2016 premiere.
Craig T. Nelson starred as college football coach Hayden Fox in this durable but unheralded sitcom, which ran for nine seasons (1989-1997) on ABC. As soon as Nelson’s gig as Parenthood’s patriarch ended, NBC decided to pull Coach Fox off the bench.
The new version, to be produced by Barry Kemp, creator of the original, will pick up 18 years after the show signed off. Hayden will come out of retirement to serve as an assistant coach to his grown son, the new head football coach at an Ivy League school. No word yet if other former regulars are attached. But is Coach still Coach without Jerry Van Dyke and Shelley Fabares?
Netflix is supposedly close to sealing the deal to reunite the Full House family, which was a TV staple from 1987 to 1995. The updated version would focus on oldest daughter D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) and her best friend, Kimmy (Andrea Barber) — although Bob Saget, John Stamos and Dave Coulier are expected to be involved. The plan is to start with a 13-episode commitment and go from there.
The Muppet Show
Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang might make yet another comeback, if ABC likes the pilot presentation from Bill Prady, co-creator of The Big Bang Theory. The original version of this variety show/comedy ran from 1976 to 1981. The beauty of the re-launch is that Muppets don’t age the way human actors do. Prady knows the material. He began his career in the early 1990s writing for Jim Henson’s Muppets.
Would 24 be the same without Jack Bauer? Fox executives told TV critics in January they’re toying with the idea of making another season, even if Keifer Sutherland declines to participate. “I think it could work,” network boss Dana Walden said. The clock-is-ticking thriller ran for eight edge-of-your-seat seasons (2001-2010). Then Bauer turned up in London for the 12-hour Live Another Day in 2014. So never say never.
This 2003-2006 comedy wasn’t a big hit for Fox, but its fans couldn’t get enough of the cash-strapped and clueless Bluth family. The show made a 15-episode comeback on Netflix in 2013, and everybody involved, from cast members to creator Mitchell Hurwitz, seemed eager to keep going. The latest tease came from executive producer Brian Grazer, who said a 17-episode Season 5 will happen. But where? And when?
Five great TV shows I wish could make a comeback
1. Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness routinely cheated death. Can’t this crazy show follow his lead?
2. Seinfeld: It was great seeing the gang together again on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now do it for real.
3. Fringe: Science and technology gets “fringier” by the minute. We need Walter Bishop more than ever.
4. Cheers: Sam Malone and the gang at the bar would be older, probably no wiser, but surely just as funny.
5. Justified: The series finale will air Tuesday night on FX. Is it too soon to request a re-launch?
— David Martindale