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Television show reboots rarely go well. Even when the source material was stronger than the what the old television techniques could support, we are normally treated to 18 abysmal episodes of the 2008 Knight Rider reboot or something of similar quality. There have been a couple of notable sci-fi exceptions that give us hope that the reboot could work well in the genre closest to every geek’s heart.
When it was announced that they would be rebooting Battlestar Galactica, many pointed out that the original wasn’t very good and that the storyline was limited. It couldn’t sustain a series and might make for a good mini-series at best. “They”, whoever they are, were very wrong. Not only was the source material strong enough to be the launching point for an epic series, they were able to fit in enough character development, plot twists, and political intrigue to fill much more than the four seasons they used to tell the story. If anything, it ended too quickly. It could have supported at least another season, possibly two, and not overstayed its welcome.
Today, there is Doctor Who. Anyone who reads Techi is likely extremely familiar with the ins and outs of the rebooted series. Seven seasons in and still going strong, it is the ultimate geek discussion point. It’s a litmus test – if you don’t have a crush on either Amy Pond or The Doctor, you can’t be a true geek.
With these two wonderful examples of something good turned into something fantastic, it gives us hope that some of the other wonderful or potentially wonderful shows of the past might make a return. Modern CGI would make many of these shows visually superior and the rise of big budget television would mean that more could be put into making them epic. Here is our list in reverse order of “wantness”. Everyone has their own opinions about, well, everything, but if we had Hollywood’s ear, these are the shows that we would pick.
7. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
A 20th century astronaut turns into a 25th century hero. The future wasn’t quite as sophisticated as it should have been, so perhaps it would make more sense to make it “…in the 22nd Century”, maybe even 23rd. By the 25th century, we should be disembodied brains, right? With hoverboards, right?
The premise behind the series could definitely use some tweaking, but that’s what reboots can do. If J.J. Abrams can destroy Vulcan, Buck Rogers can be a 21st century SpaceX astronaut who returns a hundred years later and helps defend the galaxy with pure testosterone. We can assume that within 100 years cell phone radiation, the dwindling bee population, or reality TV will make all males infertile, so Buck might have to return to repopulate. The possibilities are endless as long as Buck is in the picture. And the hawk guy. And Wilma.
6. Quantum Leap
Scott Bakula could have continued to play the role of Sam Beckett indefinitely and nobody would have complained. He could come back today and renew the role, even starting from a full reboot perspective. The concept of jumping from one body to another was creepy, but it was also perpetual. If anything the reboot would allow them to put more back story into it so that there is more of cosmic reason for the jumping rather than seemingly random life-fixing adventures.
There was another similar television show, Voyagers, that was a little cheesier (if that’s possible) but actually had even more potential if it were made today, but Quantum Leap is the more popular choice and therefore could realistically be rebooted. Bakula or no Bakula, this should be done.
5. Lost in Space
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that a Lost in Space movie wasn’t released in 1998 and Friends’ Matt LeBlanc wasn’t in it. Erase it all from memory.
Let’s look at the happily stranded space family with the robot that whose catch phrase, “Danger Will Robinson”, saved the kid’s life more than once. Let’s take the basic idea, a family and the crew taking them to join a colony getting stuck on a distant planet, and grow from there. That’s the beauty of reboots. If Starbuck can have a gender change for the BSG reboot, there’s no reason why the Robinsons can’t be little more badass, the planet can’t be a little more dangerous, and the story can’t flow in the modern style of story telling.
There was a time fairly recently when the idea of a reboot wasn’t necessary. We just wanted a continuation. We were sucked into a story that appealed to us, but “we” weren’t big enough to keep everyone’s interest when it came to Nieslen ratings, so we lost our show. That was over a decade ago. Continuation grows less and less likely every day.
A reboot, however, isn’t out of the question. The biggest challenge facing it is that the original, for all its awesomeness that was great enough to at least get the consolation prize of a feature film, it just wasn’t that great of a show. It had flaws, and those flaws prevented it from moving to the next level where the flaws could have been fixed. Many shows start off poorly but pull it together by the second season. Firefly wasn’t given that chance.
If it were rebooted, it’s likely the flaws could be fixed. Unfortunately, there’s another challenge. The legend of what Firefly could have been had it no been canceled has probably exceeded what it actually can be if it’s rebooted. The expectations are extremely high, now. Would a reboot be doomed to disappoint regardless of how good it actually became?
3. The Twilight Zone
Okay, so there has already been a reboot. Technically, there’s been two, but who’s counting. This is the type of sci-fi series that needs to go completely back to its roots and stick with the same twisted style of ideas and delivery. This is the only series on this list that doesn’t need a modernization. If anything, it could gain by keeping its old, well, everything. Yes, even graphics.
It was that brilliant. It was ahead of its time. It doesn’t need to be fixed or brought into the 21st century style. It just needs to continue. A reboot that stayed true to the wonders of the original series (or even the movie, which was pretty darn good itself) could hold the nostalgia and present it to a modern audience without modernizing. It’s a longshot, I know, but I’d fear any other type of reboot. It’s hard to mess with genius.
If anything, it could at least introduce a new generation to a real series that includes the word “Twilight” in its title.
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation
I know what you’re thinking. There have been three series and six movies since ST:TNG. That’s not exactly what I mean.
By “reboot”, I mean do what should have been done already: continue the story from arguably the best time period in the Star Trek universe but make it into a real story. The problem with TNG was that it was still too closely tied to the original series. It wasn’t a story being told. It was individual missions that rarely had anything to do with the last episode and didn’t affect future episodes. Most of the actors are too old. Jonathon Frakes as Captain William Riker probably isn’t strong enough to carry a series. Still, if they could continue right where the last TNG movie left off with a partially new crew of the Enterprise, they could make a great series.
You could still have Picard popping in from time to time, visiting his old ship while on holiday from his duties as Commandant of Starfleet Academy. Michael Dorn is always looking for more work and Worf is a character that doesn’t mind series hopping. Bring in a stout new captain and let’s get back to work saving the galaxy.
1. The X-Files
This is going to be hard to admit. I didn’t watch much of the series. The bits and pieces that I saw were enough to get me interested, but it was the type of series that I always thought I should watch from beginning to end in order rather than picking it up mid-season or mid-series. Someday…
In the meantime, it’s the type of series that would fit in today. Between shows like Fringe, Lost, Supernatura’ and others it’s very clear that there’s a taste for the bizarre. Crime fighting against aliens, demons, and monsters is a thing, now. The X-Files is a show that could be reborn and find immediate success.
That doesn’t sound very convincing for a #1, does it. That’s because it’s hard to demonstrate why it makes so much sense. Today’s television viewing world is extremely interested in hearing the types of stories that probably could only be told fictionally through a show like The X-Files. It’s one of those shows that would be risky to bring back, but if it were done exceptionally well, if it were planned out from beginning to end much like how Lost was produced, and if they got the exact right actors to play Mulder and Scully (or a new team of investigators), then and only then would this be worthy. Done right, it could be more than worthy. It could be the best modern era sci-fi show of them all.
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What do you think of the list? What was missed? What should be taken off?