Readers of my columns over the months are well aware of my outcry against the abuse of the old Hollywood tradition of reboots and remakes.
Now, don't get me wrong. There is a long history of remakes and reboots, dating back to the days when MGM's boy wonder, Irving G. Thalberg, produced new talking versions of some of his silent pictures. The problem of late is not that Hollywood is making reboots and remakes, but that they seem to be doing those at the expense of new ideas and concepts.
One prime example is the Superman franchise. We recently experienced a reboot with Brandon Routh being the latest incarnation of the Man of Steel. Now they are working and casting for another reboot of the franchise.
Another example of reboots and re-reboots is the big green beast, the Incredible Hulk. Years after the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno television series, the franchise was rebooted in 2003 with a film starring Eric Bana. Then it was re-rebooted with the recent 2008 version starring Edward Norton.
How overpowering is the reboot and remake craze? It is so bad that recently one of the stars of one of the greatest movie franchises started talk about it being rebooted, when the final picture of the series hasn't even made it to the screen yet.
The problem is not just limited to the movies, but is also overtaking television as well. I freely acknowledge that there have been some excellent reboots in the television world, Battlestar Galactica and "Hawaii Five-0" are two excellent examples of reboots that have been done very well, with new ideas and concepts with the characters that were loved in the original.
Another example of a good idea for a reboot is The Questor Tapes, which was created by Gene Roddenberry, but was never given a chance to succeed. That project is now being tooled to a reboot.
All of the above are properties that have been gone from television for a very long time or never really got a fair chance to build an audience. Shows and movies like that have great potential for remakes and reboots and deserve a chance.
The trouble begins, as it always does, when Hollywood discovers an idea that works, and proceeds to overdo it. Overkill has been the enemy of the golden goose in the history of movies and television for many years. One example is the show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. When it only ran for short bursts with months separating the appearances of the show, the fan base grew, and the show thrived.
What killed it was when the show went weekly, it lost its novelty. Fans became bored and switched to other programming, which caused the ratings to fall and the show to vanish from prime time. Many wonder how long the program would have been able to continue on prime time if it had remained in its original format.
Television is repeating history with the current craze involving reality shows. Sooner or later, this craze will play out, just as all the others have. Then network executives will be going crazy trying to find programming for their networks and stations that the fans will watch to replace all of the reality they have been broadcasting.
Some would argue that reboots are popular with studios because they are safe investments. The problem with that argument is that no film or series is safe until it has established an audience. How many movies and television shows were predicted to be hits that turned out to do nothing but leave a crater when it crashed to the ground, a total failure?
I do not oppose reboots, remakes, spinoffs or any of those ideas. I only suggest that they need to be returned to the way they were done in the past, which is sparingly, not a constant flow of them. This current trend, like so many things, can be examined as a pendulum swinging back and forth. Right now, the craze seems to be rebooting anything and everything, while the other side of the pendulum's swing is a total absence of these kinds of productions.
Like so many things, the truth is always found somewhere in the middle. That is what I propose: give us remakes, reboots and the like, but in moderation, mixed in with more originality. Revisit some of the greats and the could-have-been greats in the past, but don't forget to allow for some totally new ideas to come out as well.
By doing that, who knows, the next great movie or television dynasty might be born.
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