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The Reboot Monster: Why It Just Won’t Die

SciFriday: It’s not that there are no more original ideas — just people stuck in the past

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Well, this list could go on forever, but I’m sure you’ve heard of “Heroes Reborn,” the new “The X-Files,” and of course, a television version of “Supergirl.”

These programs are part of a huge list of remakes that includes a number of genre clunkers as well, like “Knight Rider” and “Bionic Woman,” and non-genre programs (which has had mild success) like “Hawaii Five-0.”

It’s enough to have television viewers openly wonder if there are just no fresh ideas anymore. That instead of trying to develop something new, writers and networks and cable channels keep going back to the same old, same old. Even popular shows like “House of Cards” is a reboot … it’s like it never ends.

But here’s the thing … it’s not that there aren’t any fresh ideas anymore. It’s that audiences yell and scream and demand a little bit of nostalgia in their entertainment. OK, not a little — a lot.

Don’t believe me? Just troll your Facebook newsfeed sometimes, and count how many times people want to you to like or share something “if you remember this.” Just now, my timeline has nostalgia posts like L.A. Gear sneakers, the seven forgotten sodas of the 1990s, and S&H Green Stamps. If you don’t know any of those things, then you’re probably too young to be reading this.

People love thinking about the past, especially in the way we like to remember the past — through a filter that is either rose-colored for happy memories, or dark for the bad. But we usually don’t remember both at the same time.

We think about how much we loved the “War of the Worlds” television series, and how everyone should watch it — until we put in an episode, and are like, “Wow, we liked this?” Or David Hasselhoff’s “Knight Rider,” where he drove a super-cool Trans-Am, and had great adventures, until we realize as adults that Michael Knight was a huge man-whore.

I remember seeing a rerun of the “Battlestar Galactica” pilot when I was like 10, and thought that was so amazing. But then I saw it again a few years ago, and the first thing that’s in my mind is “How the hell did Apollo get Adama back down to Caprica in the middle of the attack? The Viper only has one seat … did Adama sit on Apollo’s lap?”

Believe it or not, the networks and cable channels are really trying to put stuff on television that they feel audiences will go for. And the sad part is, audiences are quite nostalgic. They would love to see a piece of their past put back on the screen, which is why “The Muppets” are back, but primarily geared toward people in their 30s and 40s, not families.

So I wish I could say this “boon” of reboots will come to an end soon. But it won’t. Not as long as people are more interested to holding on to what they remember of the past, and wanting ways to bring it to the present.

But there are a lot of original shows out there, and we can’t overlook them. Programs like “Defiance” on Syfy, or “Continuum” or even “Dominion.” And not all the reboots are bad. Say what you want about “Gotham,” but fans really love it. And the new “Battlestar Galactica” was actually quite amazing.

And one thing I’m glad we don’t have from the past is just three channels of real programming. So if you don’t like something the networks or cable channels are putting out, then all you have to do it pick up that remote control and …

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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