Reboots and remakes and revamps! Oh my! The ’90s are back in full force. At least, if we are talking about television programming.
There is nothing new about remakes or reboots, but it seems as though we are in an age of the old becoming new again. Is this a result of nostalgia? Or are our current content creators running out of ideas?
As a ’90s kid, I am thrilled that some of my childhood favorites are getting a second life. Arnold and his friends were squad goals, Ms. Frizzle was the best teacher, and Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup were way cooler than superman.
I am glad that we may finally get to learn about what happened to Arnold’s parents when “Hey Arnold!” returns as a made for TV movie. No premiere date has been given, but it is definitely in the works.
Russell Hicks, president of content development and production at Nickelodeon Group, said in an interview with Variety, “Our library has come to fruition and it’s time for it to start coming back to life.”
Football head and company are not the only group of cartoon friends making a comeback. Ms. Frizzle, her students and the coolest school bus ever are back in action. Netflix will be revamping “The Magic School Bus” with 26 new episodes this year.
“The Powerpuff Girls” is also getting a reboot on the show’s original network, Cartoon Network. The show will be premiering in April. New clips of the series are already being shown to audiences in promotional videos.
Cartoons are not the only ’90s products getting revived for TV. Films are also getting the TV sequel treatment. ABC has announced a half-hour comedic follow-up of the 1997 film “My Best Friend’s Wedding” which starred Julia Roberts. NBC has green lighted the return of the cult classic “Cruel Intentions.” Premiere dates are to be determined.
TV shows that are coming back include “Full House,” “Twin Peaks” and “The X-Files.” “Full House” will be making its return as “Fuller House” on Netflix on Feb. 26 with 13 episodes. “Twin Peaks” will be premiering in 2017 as a limited series on Showtime. “The X-Files” has already premiered and is airing Monday nights at 8 p.m. on Fox for a six episode run.
As exciting as this is, I can not help but be a little hesitant about embracing the reboots. How are the newer versions of these ’90s cartoons, shows and movies going to turn out? Are they going to be same pieces of entertainment that ’90s kids and teens loved?
The reboots of these programs are not going to be exactly what we remember. Ms. Frizzle will be coming to us in CGI form. The Powerpuff Girls will be voiced by different actors and have a slightly different look.
While the changes to the animated shows are somewhat minor, other shows are going to have not-so-subtle updates. The original screenwriter of “My Best Friend’s Wedding, Ron Bass, is on board for the reboot, but we are probably not going to see Julia Roberts reprise her starring role. Sarah Michelle Gellar could possibly be returning as the scheming Kathryn Merteuil, but will the network TV show be as edgy as the R-rated original?
In addition, “Fuller House” will be without the beloved character Michelle Tanner while”Twin Peaks” and “X-Files” will have to find a way to embrace new characters and deal with the holes left by characters who will not be returning.
For those who have seen the original versions of these shows, the changes could make the familiar feel foreign. The changes could potentially leave old fans dissatisfied. However, the changes may be necessary.
The content needs to appeal to a newer audience. The cartoons are going to be targeted to an entirely different group of kids who are growing up in a different time. The other shows will also be entering into a completely new cultural climate.
Many of us have either aged or grown out of past interests, so there really is no longer a need to reach out to an audience that have lost affection for the refreshed content. Even if those behind the scenes did want to regain the love of the original fandoms, it is nearly impossible to live up to the hype that is created by cherished memories.
New technology also has to be taken into account. It would kind of be ridiculous to have a show set in the present day to not include the trappings and/or advantages of social media, smart phones, and wearable tech. This completely changes the landscape in which these characters are operating.
Not only do those bringing back the shows have to deal with the critical eye of nostalgic viewers and upgrades in the environment, but also with making the shows interesting. I loved “Full House,” and I still enjoy the reruns from time to time. But I am not really interested in seeing Kimmy Gibbler and Stephanie Tanner be the new Uncle Joey and Uncle Jesse.
How are they going to make these shows feel fresh and not recycled?
Some have to make adjustments to fit their new platforms. “Magic School Bus” and “Fuller House” will be on Netflix, and “Twin Peaks” will be airing on Showtime. This could allow more flexibility in storytelling. Although “Magic School Bus” and “Fuller House” will be targeted to a family audience, “Twin Peaks” can be much less family friendly on a cable channel.
Other shows have to fit into a much different format. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Cruel Intentions” are making the jump from film to TV. While “My Best Friend’s Wedding” can fit comfortably into the PG-13 world of ABC, “Cruel Intentions” will have to be adjusted in order to be acceptable by network audiences.
After the producers and writers make all of their adjustments, will the remakes last? Revamps do not always fare well. A reboot of “Knight Rider,” a hit from the ’80s, and the “Sex and The City” prequel series “The Carrie Diaries” both failed miserably.
However, reboots have seen some success. “Doctor Who” was a show originally ended in the ’80s and made a strong return in 2005. I do not expect the returning shows to be another “Doctor Who,” but there is hope for longevity.
Despite the uphill battle these shows are facing, I am embracing their return. They could be pale imitations of the originals or they could be great. Besides, I loved ’90s TV so this can not be that bad, right?