Nobody's Remaking Full House... Yet. But It's Time to Quit It With Reboots, Spin-offs, and Adaptations
This morning, a friend of mine alerted me to a news story going around that claimed ABC was interested in making a Full House reboot. After banging my head on my bathtub, Kyle Spencer style, for 10 minutes, I put on my investigative attire (which looks a lot like my regular attire, but is totally different), and, well, I investigated.
The original article—which appeared today on Entertainment Tonight's website—is no longer online, and the syndicated version (on Yahoo!) has also been pulled. Meanwhile, the Today show reports that the source of this morning's hullabaloo was a post on a blog called Disney Treasures, which itself was an exact copy of an April Fools joke that Screenrant published seven months ago. Whether or not the story is true or false isn't really the issue here, though (but again, for the record: It's false). The issue is that Hollywood has run out of ideas, and that a Full House remake is not only entirely plausible, but it's actually probably something that someone somewhere has pitched.
Let's take a look at what's on tap, shall we? Disney's got Girl Meets World, a spin-off or extension of the popular '90s series Boy Meets World, on the horizon, NBC is attempting to bring Murder, She Wrote back to life, and CBS is mulling over the idea of rebooting Charmed. Yes, we've reached the point in time where people are waxing nostalgic for the good old days of the 1990s, and I for one think that's a crappy idea. The '90s were a good decade for TV, sure... when you're not comparing them to anything that premiered after 2000. In the '90s, TV was full of wholesome shows, family shows, shows that left you feeling warm and fuzzy inside as the credits rolled and the blooper tags began. But we've evolved since then. Many viewers no longer want to learn a life lesson every week. We want thought-provoking, edge-of-our-seats drama. We want exciting. We want television that's new and bold and frankly, that's not at all what we'll be getting if some of the projects that are currently in development make it to air.
At San Diego Comic-Con this past July, I sat in on Joss Whedon's solo panel. He does one every year, and it usually ends up being one big, funny Q&A session. But Whedon didn't earn his status as the king of Comic-Con by being self-deprecating and funny. He did it by spearheading several of the most innovative TV series of the last 10 to 15 years. And he's been known to let a nugget of truth slip out between all the jokes. And during this particular Comic-Con session, he said something that jumps to the forefront of my mind every time a new remake is announced. When asked why the Dr. Horrible sequel had been pushed back yet again, Whedon explained that he wanted to create something new more than he wanted to revisit his past, which is why he jumped at the chance to make Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than finish the long-awaited sequel. He also stated that he believed we needed to be creating new content, and that remakes are no longer about nostalgia. That's never been more clear than it is right now.
The rash of recent remake announcements has nothing to do with missing certain shows, or yearning for the way they used to make us feel. They aren't in development because they have something new to add to popular culture. More often than not, they resemble the skeletal remains of once-beloved TV heroes. They're shadows of the great things they once were. They're last-ditch efforts from networks that are grasping at straws to remain relevant in a world where new, inventive ideas are becoming an endangered species. The Charmed reboot that CBS has ordered a pilot script for? That series only went off the air in 2006. That's only seven years ago. I have clothing that's older than that.
Last week, movie-review site The Dissolve declared 2017 the year of new ideas with regard to the film industry. Writer Keith Phipps called a moratorium on the remakes and sequels and literary adaptations that've already been done a million times, and argued that in 2017, Hollywood should be forced should to start over. And now I'd like to do something similar for television, whether or not that rumor of a Full House reboot is real. Yes, we've had our own fun lately with the onslaught of news about remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings coming from the TV networks, but the time has come to put an end to that once and for all.
In an ideal world, with the end of the year quickly approaching, I'd declare 2014 to be the year of new ideas for TV. But there are already several deals in place for the 2014 season, not to mention Fox's 24: Live Another Day and FX's Fargo to look forward to. But also in an ideal world, the remakes and reboots and re-imaginings we've learned of thus far will never make it past the pilot process. Given the current state of network television, that's not so likely to happen. So here's what I'm proposing: 2015 is our year, 2015 is the year we shelve the old and look toward the future. And here's how we do it...
No more reboots or remakes.
Let's leave the past in the past. Charmed was fun for awhile, until it wasn't. And it probably only lived as long as it did because The WB didn't have much else to depend on at the time. The Bridge was an Americanized tale of a Danish series, but it never became the must-watch series FX was hoping it'd be, Season 2 renewal notwithstanding. And on that same note, why must Americans remake everything of quality from other countries? Why can't we praise the original series without also tarnishing it by adding our own flair? Sundance is currently airing the haunting original French series The Returned, but A&E is remaking it. BBC America just finished airing the U.K.'s Broadchurch, but Fox is remaking it—and with the same lead actor, to boot. Why? Because we're greedy.
No more adaptations—or at least no more multiple adaptations of the same work.
There are currently two Sherlock Holmes series on TV. AMC's biggest series, The Walking Dead, is an adaptation of a graphic novel, and the network is already planning a "companion piece" spin-off. ABC Family and The CW both have popular shows based on popular book series, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries, and they've both launched spin-offs this season. And there are, what, five Wizard of Oz adaptations in the works right now? It's hard to get excited about any of the Oz ideas, when every other week, someone's waving a new Dorothy idea in your face. L. Frank Baum's story and its characters have been in the public domain since 1956, so why are these adaptations only coming alive now? Doesn't matter. Let's stop doing the same things over and over again.
No more spin-offs.
I know i just wrote an article about current TV characters who could carry their own spin-offs, but the truth of the matter is that we should put a stop to spin-offs, too. Can't we think of anything better than what's already out there?
No more re-imaginings.
When Ronald D. Moore and David Eick redeveloped the kitschy old Battlestar Galactica for a new generation in 2003, it worked because they were able to set the series against a contemporary backdrop. They were able to frame the series in such a way that it was an allegory for a post-9/11 world. The new series was more serious and less campy than the original. It jump-started serious discussions, and it was thought provoking. But that was a case of being in the right place at the right time. The series lost its way toward the end, but it succeeded because it was on Syfy and because no one else was doing anything like it. That's not the case anymore.
No more TV series as movies.
This seems a bit hypocritical coming from someone who shelled out a big wad o' cash for the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter who is utterly excited to see the finished product, but that, I believe, is a situation that will never happen again. It was a new endeavor, the first of its kind, and it was clearly a labor of love for everyone involved. I don't support the idea that all failed TV shows, or that any TV show, for that matter, can live on as films. I think we should be happy with what we had and call it a day. TV shows will always be canceled before their time, and many of them will never receive a proper ending. Hell, even when they do, we still don't ever seem to be satisfied. And yes, that was a dig at everyone who's still clamoring for a Friday Night Lights movie, or more Breaking Bad episodes. Friday Night Lights ended as perfectly as it could have, so why do we need more? Let's just put an end to this and ensure that we'll never have to sit through another Sex and the City movie by just saying no to all TV-shows-turned-major-motion-pictures.
If we can abide by these rules, I think we'll be in better shape in the end. It might get worse before it gets better, but if we quit the remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings cold turkey, we should be through the withdrawal and the night sweats come 2015. Part of the reason the networks are performing so poorly lately is that they're recycling storylines that maybe weren't so great in the first place. Which leads to early cancellations, and then suddenly everyone's wondering what went wrong. It's obvious what went wrong: the art and medium of television has evolved. What worked a decade ago, or two decades ago, doesn't work anymore. The only way to make it through this is to start over fresh. Who's with me?
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