Last year, shortly after NBC announced it’s intended revival of Heroes, I wrote a column about shows I thought were much more deserving of a revival than one which peaked in its first season. One of the shows on that list, Twin Peaks, is now scheduled for its own revival as well. This is something I can get behind. However, it seems like within the past year all networks have been doing is announcing revivals or remakes in one form or another.
It’s not that remakes have been unheard of until now. The Hawaii Five-O remake has been doing fairly well for years. Other attempts – Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, Charlie’s Angels – haven’t been so lucky. I suspect H5O‘s success had more to do with it’s cast than nostalgia.
It seems like remake plans are everywhere these days. CBS just launched an Odd Couple remake starring Matthew Perry, and plans are in the works for revivals of Coach, Full House, and The X-Files, not to mention that Heroes reboot. MTV just announced last week they plan to revive their claymation program, Celebrity Deathmatch.There are also reports indicating a TV version of Galaxy Quest is in the works, which just seems like blasphemy.
I’m not saying every remake or reboot is a terrible idea. I’m actually looking forward to Shadowhunters, mostly because I think television will be a much better medium for telling that story than a two-hour film. Twin Peaks and The X-Files also aren’t necessarily bad things – and there are a lot of other shows that I’d like to see get limited revival series, either to catch up with where those characters are, or just to offer closure we may not have gotten previously.
What I am saying is, why does it feel like every single series lately is a remake, reboot, revival or reinterpretation? How many different versions of The Wizard of Oz are currently in the works? And at one time, three different networks had plans for a Beauty and the Beast inspired series, though only the CW has actually produced theirs. Has Hollywood really run out of original ideas?
I don’t have a real answer, but the obvious one seems to be ‘yes,’ and this issue doesn’t just affect television. Take a look at films being released this year (or the ones currently in development). You will find a number of familiar titles: Star Wars, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Terminator, The Crow, and the list goes on. These aren’t just one-off films that someone has decided it’s time to remake – these are large movie franchises being completely rebooted or extended.
Now don’t get me wrong, I completely geeked out over the new Star Wars trailer last week, and am as excited as any other lifelong fan. I’m not quite as excited about Jurassic World, but seeing as Chris Pratt has been added to my list of favorite action heroes, I’ll be going to see that too. But the question is, where is this generation’s Star Wars? When was the last time there was a truly original mega franchise like Star Wars? Why are we building onto the ones already in existence and not coming up with something new? I’m not talking about a film series based on YA novels, but something completely new and original.
You could perhaps make an argument for the Marvel Cinematic Universe attempting to be this generation’s Star Wars – and in some ways you’d probably be correct – but those films are still not entirely original, as they are based on the comics. That’s not to say that a television show or movie based on source material isn’t as good as something original. I am a HUGE fan of the MCU and everything associated with it, plus a lot of what I consider the best shows on television right now were adapted from some sort of source material – Game of Thrones, Daredevil, Arrow, even Justified was based on a novella by Elmore Leonard.
One could possibly argue someday Avatar and its sequels could fill this void, but it’s taking so long just to get one more movie made, let alone three more. And let’s be honest, how original is Avatar really? Sure the effects were great, but we’ve all seen Pocahontas and Fern Gully.
Which then brings up another debate: How original is anything anymore? Even the stories that may seem the most original to us are built using elements of storytelling dating back centuries – the Hero’s Journey for example, which can even be found in Star Wars. There are no truly 100% original stories anymore, as everything is inspired by something, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be as unique as possible.
So where is all the creativity in Hollywood? Why are they just remaking films from our childhoods? At this year’s Oscars the two front-runners for Best Picture – Boyhood and Birdman, which ultimately took home the prize – were both original screenplays, showing creativity and originality can be rewarded. However, neither one of those were box office hits like Star Wars is expected to be. Are they falling back on the tried and true popular films because they were so popular the first time around that it’s less of a risk? Fans all over the world will tell you how bad they thought the Star Wars prequel trilogy was, and yet there were still people waiting in line for every film.
I don’t have an answer, and probably never will, all I know is that I cringe a little more every time one of these remakes is announced, and a little piece of my childhood dies every time there’s a bad remake of something I once loved dearly.