×

In Defense of the Offense of Remakes

Even in the midst of Remake Fever, original ideas still dominate

You won’t metaphorically hear a louder collective groan on the Internet these days than when news comes of another film or television remake.

Whether it’s “Carrie” on the film side or such TV projects as “Murder, She Wrote” — or the remake-that-isn’t-a-remake-but-might-as-well-be, “How I Met Your Dad,”  these projects justifiably inspire cynicism about their motives and skepticism about their value.

Yes, it often seems like the primary inspiration for every reboot is money — welcome to the entertainment business. No, it doesn’t seem likely that they will improve upon the original, or even come close.  Most craven of all is when the projects take the title but almost nothing else, thus sullying the memory of the original without any seeming creative justification.

But amid all the pillorying, which I myself have joined in on, let me just make a few points in support of the remake impulse.

  • Remakes are done all the time in theater, and no one seems to mind. You know when you go to see that new local production of “Twelfth Night” or “Death of a Salesman?” That’s a remake. The genre is so blessed that the Tonys even give awards for the best revivals of the year. Now, it makes more sense in theater, where the opportunities to see the original are few and far between, especially if you don’t have a time machine. But the idea for the producers (or “The Producers”) is otherwise the same: This is good source material, and we’d like to see what we can do with it. Strip away all the financial trimmings (it could take a while, but we’ve got time), and the people in film and television are artists, and the desire to put their own stamp on something already beloved is understandable.
  • “There are no original ideas anymore.” Really? Actually, even in the midst of Remake Fever, original ideas still dominate. The problem is, most of them don’t become that good either. Yeah, “Ironside” was a flop, but so was “We Are Men.”
  • Sometimes, the remakes are good, even great. There may be a few diehards who think the U.S. version of “The Office” never, at any moment, held a candle to its U.K. ancestor, but let’s be real: The TV world is a better place because Michael Scott and friends existed. “House of Cards” won David Fincher a directing Emmy for its pilot. “All in the Family,” anyone?

So while many of these remakes might be bad ideas from the start, a knee-jerk negative reaction to every one is a bitch too far. I don’t really need to see “Broadchurch” redone for the U.S. as Fox’s “Gracepoint” after having enjoyed the British version, but is it so hard to understand why creator Chris Chibnall and star David Tennant might want to take it for another ride, why showrunners Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein might welcome the challenge of moving beyond the original or why Anna Gunn and Jacki Weaver might want their spin? I mean, besides the fact that they’re getting paid for it?

The remake might be good. Hell, there’s even a small chance it could be better than the original. I’m not holding my breath, but still.

It’s time to shrug these remakes off until they launch. They’re part of our world but aren’t taking over our world, and there’s nothing to be gained by trashing them prematurely. Let them sink or swim on their own merits when they arrive. Trust me, the legacy of Jessica Fletcher can take it.

More TV

  • GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's "Grey's Anatomy"

    'Grey's Anatomy' to Officially Send Off Justin Chambers in March 5 Episode (Watch)

    Justin Chambers’ last onscreen appearance in “Grey’s Anatomy” was back in November 2019, but his longtime character Alex Karev will officially get his sendoff in the March 5 episode. A trailer for the episode entitled “Leave A Light On” (which you can watch above) flashes back through Chambers’ 15 seasons on the show, seeing his [...]

  • One Day At A Time -

    TV News Roundup: 'One Day at a Time' Casts Marla Gibbs and Reggie Watts

    In today’s TV news roundup, Marla Gibbs and Reggie Watts have been cast in guest roles on “One Day at a Time” and Netflix released the premiere date and teaser for “The Eddy.” CASTINGS Marla Gibbs and Reggie Watts have been cast in guest roles on PopTV’s “One Day at a Time.” The two actors [...]

  • Sofia Vergara Heidi Klum2

    Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum Set as 'America's Got Talent' Season 15 Judges

    Sofia Vergara has signed on as a judge for the upcoming 15th season of “America’s Got Talent” at NBC, Variety has learned. In addition, Heidi Klum is returning to the show for the first time since 2018. They join the current judging panel that consists of Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel, with Terry Crews serving [...]

  • Brian Gleeson Domhnall Gleeson

    Brian, Domhnall Gleeson Set Comedy Series 'Frank of Ireland' at Amazon, Channel 4

    Brothers Brian and Domhnall Gleeson are teaming for a comedy series titled “Frank of Ireland,” a co-production between Channel 4 and Amazon. The brothers Gleeson are co-writing and executive producing the show with Michael Moloney, with the half-hour series getting a six-episode order. Brian will star as Frank Marron, who is described as a 32-year-old [...]

  • YouTube TV

    YouTube TV Is Dropping Fox Regional Sports Nets, YES Network After Sinclair Standoff

    YouTube TV, Google’s internet pay-TV service, said it will drop the Fox regional sports networks and the YES Network from customer lineups this Saturday, Feb. 29 — citing an impasse in negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the RSNs. “We purchase rights from Sinclair to distribute content to you,” the YouTube TV account said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content