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Do You Remember The First Time?

Posted February 15, 2013 - Blog Posts

There’s something about the shows that you grow up with, isn’t there? Furthermore, there’s something about watching childhood shows as an adult that’s transformative. It’s like your own little TV time machine. This isn’t always a good thing – there are sure to be some shows that you wish you never watched! But even those cringe-inducing old shows can stir a somehow-still-pleasurable feeling of nostalgia in us.

It was announced this month in The Guardian  that Thunderbirds is coming back to our screens in 2015 – 50 years after we first met those fearless little guys. With a working title of ‘Thunderbirds Are Go!’ (see what they did there) it will be suitably 21st Centurised (yes, we just made that word up) with CGI and the whole shebang. According to The Guardian article, the studio who worked on Lord of the Rings will be looking after all the special effects.  Can.hardly.wait.

It does bring up the argument of semantics: remake vs reboot vs sequel (and sometimes prequel!) A lot of words that are sometimes used to describe the same shows. As far as we understand it, remake refers to a show that pretty much follows the same rules or format whereas a reboot changes some of the rules which could include updating it for the modern generation. A sequel is ‘what happened next’ and a prequel looks at what happened before.

All of this got us thinking: do remakes ever work as well as originals? Do they sometimes work a bit better? Can they help a show gain traction in a whole new generation?

We had a think about some recent TV comebacks:

Last year, Dallas returned to our screens in what the makers called less of a remake and “more of a continuation” showing the evolution of the oil family. It was certainly entertaining with Larry Hagman still dominating as the formidable JR but our jury is out as to whether the show appealed more to the original Dallas fanbase or opened up the series to a whole new (younger) audience. With Hagman’s sad passing ending his time on the show, it’ll be interesting to see if the new crop of young talent can hold their own in the future.

Dr WhoDoctor rebooted for the 21st century
First aired in 1963, Dr Who has been back on our screens for a few seasons now and by all accounts the Doctor is doing very well indeed! Having several actors play the leading man and his right-hand woman has continued to inject a freshness into the show and fans (both new and old) can’t seem to get enough.  But what has also helped is taking a break from the foam costumes, creaky sets and dodgy acting of the 80s to returning with polished special effects and conviction in the acting and great story arcs over the whole series.

A ‘spinoff’ of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 series, the latest version follows a new set of characters (with the odd cameo from an original cast member). Although the show has been panned by some critics, it’s lasted five seasons so far. Whether there will be a sixth (and possibly final) season is yet to be confirmed.  It seems a little unlikely that the original fans would be enamoured by the new teen dramas but it is clearly loved by some.

And then there’s the issue of the trans-Atlantic makeover (more on this another time). The Inbetweeners, Shameless and The Office are just a few of the shows that have been remade with an American cast for US audiences following critical and popular success in the UK. Of these The Office USA has been most successful because it took the original idea and ran with it for a US audience whereas British male teen angst doesn’t travel so well and by contrast, The Inbetweeners USA bombed .

Opinions on remakes (whatever you want to call them) can sometimes be split but they can have a lot of worth, whether it is invoking nostalgia for your youth or introducing a new generation to a great TV series. Perhaps things only really go south when someone remakes a classic, badly. (Did someone say Reginald Perrin? ).

One way or another, you know what they say: imitation is the highest form of flattery.

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