It's been a weird couple of weeks for the broadcast networks. With the fall season in full swing and not too many new hits on the schedule, a few of the networks have gotten pretty desperate. NBC, the king of all silly retro reboots, announced that it'd grabbed Octavia Spencer to top-line a Murder, She Wrote redo, and CBS somehow upped the ante by ordering a pilot script for a new version of Charmed. Although both of those ideas seem ridiculous, they're really just new additions to the pile that also includes a Remington Steele remake, a bunch of film-to-TV adaptations (including shows based on Man on Fire and The Money Pit), even more book and foreign program adaptations, and more Wizard of Oz-inspired projects than you'd think. These kind of ideas make up more than half of the current slate of shows in development, which is probably unsurprising.
On the heels of providing the networks with some solid new spin-off ideas, we figured we'd keep the advice-giving going. Here are some "fresh" ideas the networks can use to bring old shows back to life, in true zombie fashion. (And thanks to your friend and mine Noel Kirkpatrick for workshopping a few of these with me.)
NBC reboots Quincy, M.E. with a female lead
If there's one thing NBC loves to do, it's remake shows that were moderately popular at least two decades ago. This season's attempt was Ironside, and despite a solid lead performance from Blair Underwood, the show flopped. But if the Peacock had stopped developing remakes as soon as one failed, the network might not even exist right now. So why not keep the dream alive with a new version of Quincy, M.E.? Haven't we all been clamoring for that next great medical examiner show? As we've seen with Ironside and the concept for the new Murder, She Wrote, NBC likes to put some kind of personalized spin on its re-imagined lead character, so this version of Quincy just has to a woman. And if you're thinking that such a show sounds really similar to another relatively recent NBC show, Crossing Jordan, you're certainly not wrong. Like NBC cares.
CBS reboots Green Acres in a modern setting
Despite some current bright spots, CBS is still jonesing for another new comedy hit. With How I Met Your Mother saying goodbye in the spring, the network needs some fresh meat for next season's Monday-night lineup, and what better way to replace Barney Stinson and the gang than by dipping back into some network history. Green Acres could be updated for contemporary culture pretty easily: A thirtysomething elitist loses a chunk of his fortune and tries to get back to his roots by moving his eco-friendly trophy wife to a rural community. Since it's CBS we're talking about, there are probably two over-the-top hillbilly characters and at least one stereotypical immigrant worker. Definitely a multi-cam, with a really cheap looking field set. And in the event the project fails to earn a series order at CBS, Fox will be waiting in the wings to pick it up as a nice companion for Dads.
ABC reboots a more dramatic version Bewitched
Worried that CBS is going to corner the market on witch-related remakes, ABC counters with its own spellbinding property, Bewitched. Afraid of what happened with the film version of the story from a few years back and seeing that CBS ultimately opted not to move forward with the same idea in 2011, this Bewitched veers away from comedy and heads into more dramatic territory. Darrin and Samantha are a little younger and not yet married, mostly because Samantha is too busy hunting down evil witches and warlocks who are secretly led by Endora, Samantha's mother.
CBS reboots S.W.A.T., but as a single-camera comedy
A big reason why CBS is taking another run at Charmed is that it owns the Aaron Spelling library, so why not keep scrounging through the bottom of the barrel there? Almost every CBS single-camera comedy is a disaster, and there's no worse option I can think of for the Eyeball than a humorous take on S.W.A.T. team life. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven that cops and comedy can work together, but it'd be challenging to push that notion further to include the kind of life and death situations S.W.A.T. teams face. However, CBS does need something big and flashy on the comedy side.
ABC reboots MacGyver, with a steampunk twist
There've been a few attempts to resurrect the MacGyver name over the last decade—The WB commissioned a pilot with Jared Padalecki in the starring role as MacGyver's nephew, and a few years ago New Line was trying to get a film version going—but it deserves a spot back on its home network, ABC. After all, the Alphabet needs some more male-driven action on its schedule. However, this is ABC, which means two things: First, the new MacGyver should be more comedic than the previous one (gotta have room for the awful ABC 'funny' score). Second, this iteration of the character will actually share a story universe with other recognizable fictional characters. Perhaps Robinson Crusoe is a friendly competitor of Mac's and Fu Manchu is the big bad in the first season? And the best way to integrate these historical characters is to make the show a steampunk series. Obviously.
NBC re-imagines Hollywood Squares as a period piece, behind-the-scenes docudrama
The long-running celebrity game show makes its triumphant return to the network on which it first aired, but not as a gameshow. NBC hasn't been too shy to go back to the 1960s and re-write cultural history ('sup, The Playboy Club), and what could be juicier than the retelling of the on-set tension and drama between the original Hollywood Squares cast? To really punch it up, this dramedy would be shot documentary-style, complete with recognizable talking head interviews. Who knew that long-time center square Paul Lynde and host Peter Marshall hated each other? Daytime quiz shows have never been so scandalous!
Your turn! Go crazy with your own reboot ideas in the comments!