Television is boldly going where it has been many times before.
Remakes, reunions and reboots of past favorites are the name of the game for the coming season.
More than a half-dozen once-popular TV series are already in various stages of reconstruction. They include Star Trek, Gilmore Girls, 24 and Prison Break.
Considering the success of this year’s comeback hits, it’s hard to dismiss the programming approach of planning for the future by revisiting the past.
The X-Files, with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back as Agents Mulder and Scully, was a ratings topper for Fox. Fuller House, which brought back almost the entire cast from Full House, has already been renewed for a second season on Netflix.
History Channel’s remake of Roots — a four-night, eight-hour miniseries to premiere May 30 — probably will be one of the biggest things on cable, given that it will be simulcast on A&E and Lifetime.
But not every resurrected series hits a home run. The Muppets turned out to be an over-hyped disappointment for ABC; Heroes Reborn was a dead-on-arrival flop for NBC; and plans to bring back Craig T. Nelson in Coach were scrubbed once NBC executives were handed an underwhelming pilot.
A familiar name and viewer loyalty might help a resurrected show cut the clutter. But once it’s on, it still has to deliver the goods.
Here’s a closer look at some shows we can expect to find soon in the TV recycle bin:
Reinvention has always been an element of Star Trek. The original ran just three seasons (1966-69), but it spawned a movie franchise and multiple spinoffs. The series premiere will air in January 2017 on CBS, but subsequent episodes will stream on CBS All Access, the new digital service. The cast of new characters hasn’t been announced, but the behind-the-scenes team knows Star Trek.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman co-wrote the Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness films. Nicholas Meyer (writer/director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and Rod Roddenberry (son of Gene, the man who created the world of Star Trek) also are on board.
The cast and creative team from the 2000-2007 original have reunited for a four-episode continuation series on Netflix. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are back as Lorelai and Rory, the unconventional but lovable mother-daughter combo. Also returning are co-stars Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Sean Gunn and Keiko Agena.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of the original, and her producer husband, Daniel Palladino, are writing and directing all of the episodes. The series will consist of four 90-minute installments, each covering a different season from one calendar year. Filming began in February.
Is 24 even 24 without Jack Bauer? The new version, 24: Legacy, will use the familiar clock-is-ticking, real-time format, with each of 12 episodes representing one hour of a disastrously eventful day. But Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack isn’t involved.
Instead, the all-new cast is headed up by Corey Hawkins as man-of-action Eric Carter. The cast also includes Miranda Otto, Anna Diop and Jimmy Smits. The story teams Carter, a military hero, with CTU to stop what could be one of the biggest terror attacks ever on American soil. Sutherland, meanwhile, will be playing a Cabinet member-turned-president in ABC’s Designated Survivor.
Wentworth Miller (who played illustrated man Michael Scofield) and Dominic Purcell (who played his brother Lincoln) have had a bromance of major proportions ever since the original run of Prison Break (2005-2009). The actors currently are co-stars on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
The new chapter, slated to run during the 2016-2017 season on Fox, picks up after Michael’s apparent death and has Lincoln and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) planning the series’ biggest escape ever. The original producing team, including series creator and showrunner Paul T. Scheuring, also are returning.
Xena: Warrior Princess
This fantasy/adventure series, starring action-heroine Lucy Lawless, was a cult favorite in the 1990s. For many fans, part of the fun was musing about the true nature of the relationship between Xena and sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor). A sexual subtext was ever-present.
One producer for the reboot, which is coming to NBC later this year, has indicated that the women will be openly gay this time. Lawless is going to be involved, although probably not in the title role. (Reminder: Xena died in the series finale.) Original producers Rob Tapert (Lawless’ husband) and Sam Raimi will be running the new version.
The on-again, off-again reboot for Showtime is on again. The surreal small-town serial, starring Kyle MacLachlan as cherry-pie-loving FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, was a cult favorite when it premiered in 1990. The show might have lost its way in Season 2, but fans have still obsessively wanted a comeback.
The new Twin Peaks, expected to premiere in 2017, will consist of at least 10 episodes, all written by series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost and directed by Lynch, so you can expect it to recapture the fever-dream style of the original. MacLachlan and many other original cast members are supposed to return.
CBS is planning to bring back MacGyver. But Richard Dean Anderson won’t be playing the resourceful genius, a man who could rig a bomb with a paper clip, a candy bar and some aerosol spray. The new 20-ish MacGyver hasn’t been named yet, although George Eads (CSI) has been cast as a colleague.
Tales From the Crypt
TNT is bringing back Tales From the Crypt, but maybe in name only, as part of a planned two-hour horror block. The original anthology series was a long-running hit for HBO in the 1990s. M. Night Shyamalan is an executive producer. For better or worse, The Crypt Keeper, the ghoulish puppet host, will not return.