When is it a Good Idea to Save, Reboot, or Revive a TV Show?

When is it a Good Idea to Save, Reboot, or Revive a TV Show?

Michael Ausiello’s Gilmore Girls revival announcement earlier this week filled my heart with glee. The final season of the series left a lot to be desired and I think we can all agree that we want to know what those last four words are. Besides relishing in the thought of revisiting Stars Hollow, this news got me thinking about the general trend of rebooting, reviving, and saving TV shows.

We’re in an age when things never seem to die or at least not forever, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. As a fan I prefer when my shows aren’t unceremoniously cancelled. I also understand from a business perspective how it’s a safer bet to reuse things with name recognition or a built-in fanbase; but it is possible to have too much of a good thing, e.g. candy. That’s also assuming it’s a good idea to begin with, or even a relevant one. Seriously did we really need a Minority Report TV show?

After mulling it over the last few days I’ve come up with some criteria that I think should be considered when saving, rebooting, or reviving a TV show, beloved or not:


1.) Narrative Sense

Why is everyone so afraid of endings? Movies typically come to a natural end, so do books. And that’s okay. Not all TV shows get to end as planned, but some do. Chuck ended on its own accord yet people continue to ask for more. Firefly had a follow-up movie, but questions about a sequel or season two continue to circulate. (To be clear, if there was more, I’d watch it.)

On the flip-side, Veronica Mars ended on more of an ellipses and like I said above, Gilmore Girls went out on a creative low. What I’m saying is, if you are going to bring something back, make sure there’s more to tell. Take for example Fuller House and Girl Meets World, the next chapter of their stories revolve around another generation.


2).Original Creator and/or Cast Involvement

Hey, remember when there were rumors about a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot sans Joss Whedon, yeah the Internet went wild and not in a good way, and rightly so. When shows have such a strong voice or an iconic character, you just can’t carry on without them.

The best part of the Gilmore Girls news is that Amy Sherman Palladino is going to be back at the helm. Similarly I can’t imagine Wet Hot American Summer recasting everyone. And at the very least if you are going to reboot or revive something without the original people attached, wait a little while so no one really remembers the first incarnation.


3.) Viewer Desire

There’s a lot of cancelled TV shows that people are clamoring for more of, I don’t think Heroes was actually one of them. Ratings may have stabilized this week, but they still aren’t anything to really write home about. This week’s new episode only beat out The Vampire Diaries on The CW. It’s by no means the worst performing show for NBC, but you’d hope that resurrecting something would result in ratings.

For shows to succeed they still need to attract live viewers so it helps if you are already starting with something that people really really want back. It should be interesting to see how The X-Files does for FOX when it returns mid-season, the Internet seems quite abuzz about its revival.


4.) The Right Fit

NBC’s cancellation of Community wasn’t all she wrote for the little show that could, but Yahoo clearly wasn’t the right place for it either. Not only did the once vocal fanbase mellow out, but Yahoo actually lost a ton of money in the deal. Even as a TV addict I had trouble remembering to go to Yahoo Screen on a weekly basis and I’ve only went back to the site once since then to watch a Paley Center live stream event, probably not the ad revenue content they’d hope I’d be checking out.

Netflix on the other hand swooped in and saved Longmire, a show with decent enough ratings just an older fanbase. Since Netflix doesn’t care about demographics the same way cable and broadcast channels have to, it was quite possibly a great play to attract new subscribers. Now of course Netflix doesn’t disclose viewing numbers so I can’t claim this to be a success story, but there’s an obvious upside to their play.

Like real estate, location matters. Not only should a show jive with the overall brand, but from a fan’s perspective I also hope that it can be done the right way. As in there’s enough money to afford the actors and make it look good.

How do you feel about all these revivals and reboots? When do you think it’s a good idea to bring something back?

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Written by Jamie Paton

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