With a remake of “Murder, She Wrote” on tap and a “Remington Steele” re-do reportedly in the works, NBC may want to consider switching its slogan from “More Colorful” to “Everything Old Is New Again.”
The Peacock in recent years has exhibited a jones for dusting off old TV chestnuts and trying to breathe new life into them. The record thus far has not been that stellar, as this season’s now–cancelled “Ironside” can attest, alongside efforts such as 2007’s “Bionic Woman,” 2008’s “Knight Rider,” or 2012’s “Mockingbird Lane” special (a revamp of “The Munsters”). NBC recently tried to resuscitate “The Rockford Files,”but the pilot never got picked up for a series.
To be sure, it’s not fair to single out NBC for this practice. Isn’t CBS running a retooled version of “Hawaii Five-O” on Friday nights (and didn’t word just surface that CBS is trying to rework “Charmed”)? Didn’t ABC try to pluck “Charlie’s Angels” from TV-show heaven just two seasons ago? And isn’t the CW making something out of the re-tooled “90210” (though it could not do the same for its old companion series, “Melrose Place”)? And Syfy, the popular cable network owned by parent NBCUniversal, did quite well with an update of “Battlestar Galactica,”the Universal-produced sci-fi series that ran on ABC in between 1978 and 1980.
But NBC, at least on the surface, seems far more interested in the older stuff. In the case of “Murder, She Wrote,” there could be good reason. As owner of the old program, NBCUniversal stands to bring the series more popularity by mounting another run (and could a license fee be cheaper if your studio already owns the rights? Just asking).
With NBC on a seasons-spanning revival tear, we can’t help but make a few other suggestions about other old NBC programs that might be ripe for modernization. Or just ripe after being exhumed from the TV-series grave. In any case, would NBC consider remaking any of the following…..?
Original Run: February, 1979 to May, 1979
Old Premise: Luxurious train with shopping and swimming on board hurtles across the U.S. as various characters engage in intertwined romantic tales, “Love Boat”-style
Potential New Premise: Train conductor on massive new U.S. “rocket” train secretly carries valuable formula that can make plants grow anywhere , must transmit a piece of the equation to operatives waiting in different parts of the country each week.
Likelihood of Rebirth: Slim to none. This series cost so much and flopped so badly that it is considered one of the biggest debacles in TV. Comcast-owned Peacock not likely to want to revisit.
Original Run: September, 1983 to December, 1983
Old Premise: Dr. Jonathan Chase can shift into any animal he chooses, and uses his powers to help the police solve crimes.
Potential New Premise: Environmental activist develops ability to emulate different animal attributes like the speed of a cheetah or the mimicry of a parrot and uses his powers to defend endangered species.
Likelihood of rebirth: Possible. Could show be part of new wave of company’s “Green is Universal” effort? How much will special effects cost?
B.J. And the Bear
Original Run: February, 1979 to August, 1981
Original Premise: Trucker B.J. McKay and his pet chimpanzee Bear travel the nation’s highways while avoiding long arm of lawman Sherriff Lobo. In later episodes, McKay ran his own trucking concern and hired seven lady truckers to haul freight.
Potential New Premise: “Breaking Bad” meets “Every Which Way But Loose”: Down-and-out trucker must transport illicit goods across state lines to earn money to pay for sick daughter’s medical bills. Chimpanzee is old family pet who keeps lookout for the law.
Likelihood of rebirth: Slim. Animal activists have turned use of live animals in ads and TV shows into cause celebre, and many purveyors of entertainment routinely shun the practice. Could digital chimp prove viable substitute (Note to showrunners: Possible social media extensions)?
Grandpa Goes To Washington
Original Run: September, 1978 to January, 1979
Original Premise: Political science teacher in his 60s, forced to retire, gets himself elected U.S. Senator
Potential New Premise: More “West Wing”: Old-school liberal funnels riches from wind-farm venture into political bid, and emerges victorious. Before he can get anything done, however, the government shuts down and he must use his business wiles to get things back on track in a Congress that simply cannot or will not come together.
Likelihood of rebirth: Good. An average Joe cracking heads in a do-nothing government? Who wouldn’t tune in?
Pink Lady and Jeff
Original Run: March, 1980 to April, 1980
Original Premise: Comic Jeff Altman co-hosts variety show with Japanese music duo Pink Lady. Jokes made at expense of singing pair, who did not speak great English
Potential New Premise: Nostalgia-themed variety package brings together clips from Pink Lady and Jeff, Sonny & Cher, Shields & Yarnell, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Donny & Marie and “The Brady Bunch Hour.”
Likelihood of rebirth: As a one-time special around holiday-time or in August? High.
Original Run: January, 1979 to April, 1980
Original Premise: Divorced radio talk-show host tries to make life for himself and two teenage daughters in Portland, Oregon.
Potential New Premise: Divorced controversial radio-talk show host finds himself at odds with two college-age daughters who believe in everything he doesn’t, yet still love him dearly.
Likelihood of rebirth: As an entry for network’s Thursday-night comedy? Possible.