While HBO's recent Perry Mason reboot brought with it a good amount of prestige thanks to a high profile cast and creative team, it's far from the first classic series reboot to find its way to TV screens in the Peak TV era. CBS alone has made a cottage industry out of rebooting their classic properties, from S.W.A.T., Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I. and MacGyver to its upcoming Equalizer reboot. To wit, it's become increasingly clear that not every beloved show of the past should be brought back to life. Here are ten that we think are ripe for the picking:
It's amazing that Hollywood hasn’t done more with Quantum Leap since it went off the air in 1993. The cult classic, which followed the adventures of a scientist as he leaped across time into other peoples’ bodies, boasted a simple but effective sci-fi premise, one that leaves it open to all kinds of different approaches. Although much of the show’s success can be attributed to the charms of Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell, TV has improved in so many ways in the decades since that its easy to imagine a rebooted version of the series taking a darker tone (and benefiting from far less clunky special effects).
Some classic shows feel worthy of revival based solely on the strength of their lead characters. Columbo falls squarely in this camp. On paper, what made the iconic detective series unique was the way it inverted the traditional mystery format by revealing the culprit at the start of each episode, then spent the rest of each episode's runtime letting the audience see how the show’s titular character would discover the criminal’s identity. While it was often clear from the first twinkle in Columbo's eye that he knew exactly who had done it, the fun came in seeing how his seemingly befuddled line of questioning inevitably led to the culprit's undoing. Peter Falk was pitch-perfect in the role, but much like Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason, it would be fascinating to see how a star like Mark Ruffalo (once rumored to be considering the role) might interpret the character.
One of TV’s great ensemble comedies, it’s hard to imagine a Taxi reboot assembling a cast with the same caliber of talent as the original series, which featured f Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, and Andy Kaufman. Or, at least, it might have seemed like an impossible task a few years ago, before world-class comedians and movie stars started showing up in TV shows on a regular basis. Today the prospect of a Taxi reboot feels a little less daunting. Thanks to the presence of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, it would also be interesting to see the staff of a taxicab company dealing with the ongoing challenges presented by those new app-based competitors.
It’s been almost 50 years since Bewitched ended its eight-season run, but the series remains an iconic and beloved property to this day. One of the most popular TV shows of its era, Bewitched mined endless comedy from its relatively simple premise: a witch gets married to a normal man, and struggles to stop using her powers to solve everyday problems. The characters were well-drawn and endlessly likable, and could easily make the transition to the modern day — no matter how much we've moved on from the 1960s nuclear family stereotypes that the original show poked fun at. Yes, there was an unfortunate 2005 Nora Ephron film adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell , but this certainly wouldn’t be the first time a beloved property endured a particularly bad re-imagining, only to lfight another day.
There have been numerous attempts to reboot The Munsters over the years, including The Munsters Today (1987-1991); a 1995 TV movie with Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls) as, appropriately, Herman Munster; and most recently, a 2012 NBC special entitled Mockingbird Lane starring Jerry O’Connell and Portia de Rossi. None of them quite seemed to stick, including a Seth Meyers-produced reboot that was devloped in 2017 and seems to have lost any and all momentum. But just because there has yet to be a truly successful Munsters reboot doesn't mean there can't be. The original series remains a cultural touchstone, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only did the show frequently pull off the rare feat of being spooky and funny at the same time, it also had heart to spare. Just this year -- 55 years after it first aired -- Herman Munster's lesson on tolerance caught the attention of viewers worldwide.
There are frustratingly low number of well-made action comedies on TV right now. That unfortunate reality makes an A-Team reboot and especially exciting prospecy. The original series, which ran from 1983-1987, remains one of TV’s all-time great -adventure shows. Following four army veterans who, after being framed for a crime they didn’t commit, endeavor to help the innocent while on the run, The A-Team is a property that — with today’s TV budgets — could reliably deliver entertaining thrills on a weekly basis.
Coming off the success of an animated Addams Family film last year, now seems like the perfect time for TV’s most macabre family to make their long-awaited return to the small screen. Similar to The Munsters (which premiered 6 days after The Addams Family in 1964), the show offered a playfully spooky take on traditional, suburban family life, and did so with a winning amount of morbid, sardonic humor. The property has maintained a strong fanbase through all of its many iterations over the years, from Charles Addams’ original cartoons, to the 60s TV series, countless reunions and reboots, a pair of live-action films in the 1990s, and last year’s animated film. That long history shows not only the property’s ability to work across multiple formats, it also speaks to the franchise's own longevity. Other than the 2019 film, there has been an unfortunately low amount of new Addams Family content for fans to consume in recent years. Like all of the possible reboots mentioned here, a new Addams Family series seems like a no brainer, and with last week's news that Tim Burton is shopping it around, this one could soon be a reality.
There have been several differrent incarnations of Land of the Lost overt the decades, including the original 1974 TV show, a subsequent 1991 series, and a disastrous 2009 feature film (again) starring Will Ferrell . It isn't hard to see why the series has become a cult classic over the years. The show’s premise, which focuses on the adventures of a family trying to survive in a dinosaur-dominated alternate world, offers an endless array of possibilities. In many ways, it operates on the same structural level as Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot, which also focused on a family trapped in a foreign world, and just like that series, it could easily make for the the kind of big budget, family friendly TV hit we rarely see nowadays.
In a world overrun with superhero movies and TV shows, if ever a 1980s series felt ripe for a another reboot, it's Knight Rider. Centering around a lone crimefighter and his indestructible AI car KITT, there have been numerous attempts to bring back the Knight Rider franchise, including a string of TV movies in the 90s and a short-lived TV reboot in 2008. With recent news that a big screen adaptation is in the works, might another TV reboot follow?
It’s been almost twenty years since Firefly aired its beloved first and only season, which makes it the newest of any of the series on this list. The Joss Whedon-created space opera was notoriously plagued by behind-the-scenes problems that ultimately led to its cancellation, but it's enjoyed quite the a second life in the years since, with the sequel film Serenity receiving critical acclaim in 2005, followed by the release of additional comic books and role-playing games set in the show’s fictional world. In an era of expanded TV production budgets, with outlets like HBO and Netflix placing more trust in TV creators than ever before, it's easy to imagine this series being a runaway hit were it to return today.
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Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.
TOPICS: Perry Mason (2020), The Addams Family, The A-Team (1983), Bewitched (1964 series), Columbo, Firefly, Knight Rider, Land of the Lost, Lost in Space (2018), The Munsters, Quantum Leap (2022 Series), Taxi