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A Complete Ranking of Aaron Spelling Reboots

Fifteen years after his death, the legendary producer’s shows are all over TV.
  • Images: The CW, FOX, CBS
    Images: The CW, FOX, CBS

    Aaron Spelling was one of TV’s most prolific hitmakers throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and into the ‘90s. The man who brought us The Love Boat, Dynasty, and Beverly Hills, 90210 had a particular knack for knowing what viewers wanted and launched some of the most popular primetime soaps and teen dramas in TV history.

    Although he passed away in 2006, Spelling's legacy lives on in reruns and, increasingly, in series reboots. In fact, with four reboots of his shows on the primetime schedule this season, Spelling is rivaling modern TV uber-producers like Dick Wolf and Greg Berlanti... from beyond the grave.

    Of course, not every reboot can be a winner. Even with tweaks for a new generation, some shows are best left in the past. Which reinventions have worked, and which haven’t? From worst to first, here’s our complete ranking of Aaron Spelling reboots:

    9. BH90210 (Fox, 2019)

    A whole generation grew up with Brandon, Dylan, Kelly, Brenda, Steve, Donna, David, and Andrea, so when the surviving original cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 reunited for this meta-revival, viewers tuned in in droves… at first.

    The series, which starred Gabrielle Carteris, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling, and Ian Ziering as embellished versions of themselves as they reunite to work on a reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210 was relatively well received by critics upon its premiere, but the charm quickly wore off, and viewership dropped off 60% by episode six. The cancel axe came a month later, and attempts to shop it elsewhere fell flat.

    8. Melrose Place (The CW, 2009-2010)

    It was a valiant attempt to resurrect the original prime time soap opera that served as a follow-up to Beverly Hills, 90210, especially seeing as the network’s 90210 reboot that premiered the year prior had been doing so well. The original had a great seven-season run thanks, in large part, to the impressive cast that included Heather Locklear and Grant Show (who currently stars in another Spelling reboot, Dynasty). The new cast, headlined by Ashley Simpson-Wentz, didn’t have the same chemistry, nor was it able to develop the hair-pulling tension fans devoured in the original, and the show was canceled after its first season.

    7. Charlie's Angels (ABC, 2011)

    Charlie’s Angels has endured through the decades thanks to a popular movie franchise, video games, and other merchandise. The characters are bona fide pop culture icons who popularized the often-recited phrase, "Good morning, Charlie." But it all started with Spelling's original, which aired from 1976 through to 1981.

    Thirty years later, the show inspired an ill-fated ABC reboot starring Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor, Ramon Rodriguez, and Victor Garber as the voice of Charlie. Criticized for everything from its performances, to its confusing plot and "useless action scenes," the series is one of few with the distinction of receiving a 0% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. It was cancelled after just four episodes.

    6. Fantasy Island (ABC, 1998-99)

    The original fantasy drama about the mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) and his assistant Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) who promised to grant fantasies to guests who visited their island (never with the expected results) was a late '70s and early '80s staple. The show made "De plane! De plane!" part of the vernacular, and aired — paired with another Spelling favorite, The Love Boat — for seven seasons, ending in 1984.

    The only series on this list to spawn two bonafide reboots, the first aired on ABC in 1998. Produced by Barry Sonnenfeld, the new series starred Malcolm McDowell in the lead role as Mr Roarke (there was no attempt to recast Tattoo). Critically panned, the series was cancelled halfway through its first season. The unaired remaining episodes later aired on The SciFi Channel.

    5. Fantasy Island (The CW, 2021-present)

    Fox decided to take a second go at bringing the Fantasy Island concept back with its 2021 revival of the same name. The new reboot replaces Mr. Roarke with his grandniece Elena (Roselyn Sanchez) and Tattoo with Ruby Akuda (Kiara Barnes) and features more modern and contemporary themes and stories. The first season received mixed reviews, but with a second season renewal already secured, this Fantasy Island has the potential to move up the ranks.

    4. 90210 (The CW, 2008-2013)

    After Beverly Hills, 90210 but before BH90210, there was 90210. Premiering only eight years after the original series went off the air, this series reboot managed to successfully connect with a new generation of viewers, introducing a compelling new cast of characters and fresh storylines to the world’s most famous zip code. The series ran for five seasons on The CW.

    3. Charmed (The CW, 2018-present)

    The original Charmed starred Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs and Shannen Doherty (later Rose McGowan) as sisters who also happened to be good witches, working to protect innocent humans from evil beings. Each had unique magical powers that they harnessed when needed and repressed when trying to live their everyday lives among the "normal" humans. But it was all about the Power of Three and working together.

    The series developed a cult following, airing for eight seasons on The WB, which would become The CW during the show’s run. When the same network announced it was rebooting the series in 2018, it received some initial pushback from the show’s original stars and their fans, but it’s still going strong with three seasons under its belt and a fourth coming.

    Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, and Sarah Jeffery play three new sisters who discover they are the Charmed Ones, and are tasked with yielding the Power of Three to defeat their enemies. The reboot has been praised for its its feminist undertones and for its diversity: its three leading ladies are all women of color, while one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

    2. S.W.A.T. (CBS, 2017-present)

    Based on Spelling’s 1975 series of the same name, S.W.A.T. premiered on CBS in 2017 and has already outlasted the original by three seasons. In the new version, Shemar Moore stars as Sergeant Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson, a former Marine who leads a new Special Weapons and Tactics unit. Unlike in the original, Hondo is both Black and a native of L.A., which puts him in a unique position to help bring together both the community and law enforcement.

    1. Dynasty (The CW, 2017-present)

    When it comes to lies, betrayal, and salacious excess, it doesn't get much better than Dynasty. Airing for nine seasons in the '80s, the original series made fans both love and loathe the spoiled, billionaire Carrington family. Led by egotistical patriarch Blake (John Forsythe), his new wife Krystle (Linda Evans), former wife Alexis (Joan Collins), and step-niece Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear), the night time soap tantalized viewers with its incessant, hair-pulled fighting, backstabbing, and manipulation.

    Launched in 2017, the show’s CW reboot isn’t just the best Aaron Spelling reboot, it’s among our very favorite guilty pleasures on TV today. Ticking all of its predecessor’s over-the-top boxes in a uniquely modern way, there’s nothing the Carringtons won’t do to amass more power, and viewers have been lapping it up now for four seasons, with another on the way.

    Christine Persaud has been writing for close to two decades and freelancing for the last eight, with her entertainment work featured in Digital Trends, Screen Rant, Reviewed Canada, and others. Follow her on Twitter @christineTechCA.

    TOPICS: Aaron Spelling, 90210, Beverly Hills, 90210, BH90210, Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels (2011 series), Charmed (1998 series), Charmed (2018 series), Dynasty (1981 series), Dynasty (2017 series), Fantasy Island (1977 Series), Fantasy Island (1998 series), Fantasy Island (2021 series), The Love Boat, Melrose Place (1992 series), Melrose Place (2009 series), S.W.A.T.