Sick of ’90s reboots? Here’s why they’re not as bad as you think

First, Twin Peaks popped back up on Showtime. Then Fox reopened the X-Files, NBC put Coach back in the game, and Netflix was in talks to refurbish Full House.

The ‘90s are back on TV, and Internet entertainment writers aren’t impressed. Over at Time, Dan D’Addario declared that “TV just keeps getting more boring.” Esquire’s Stephan Marche wrote that even reboots of great shows are a bad idea. Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson, citing the Full House reboot, writes that “this is ‘90s nostalgia gone horribly wrong.”

I say, keep the ‘90s reboots coming! They’ve always been a part of the industry, they can still spin new stories, and because of technology, they’re not robbing you of your original shows, either. Here’s what I mean.

Hollywood has never been about originality

A lot of the reboot outrage takes the “kids these days” position that reboots are a recent phenomenon. But are they?

The term is relatively new, but the process of adapting already existing-material is a trademark of Hollywood. Hollywood has never been that original, and that’s a good thing. For a post on my personal blog, I decided to take a look at the two “best” years ever for movies – 1939 and 1946. Thirty-nine is considered a high-mark because of all the movies from that year still talked about today as all-time greats (like Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind). Forty-six is the year that more Americans went to the movies than at any other time in our nation’s history. My conclusion: Even back then, Hollywood would much rather adapt pre-existing material than produce something completely original. (See the above examples of Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.)

The only difference between now and then is that Hollywood now has more than books and plays to draw from. It only makes sense that as the libraries of films and TV shows in studio vaults grow, so will the desire to re-exploit them.

Room for everyone

People who decry TV’s “lack of originality” are viewing the entertainment industry through a dated prism. When the X-Files, Twin Peaks, and, yes, Full House, all first aired, TV was dominated by just four networks, and each network’s programming slate was limited by the number of hours in the evening. That’s simply no longer the case.

full house

The number of outlets for quality, scripted entertainment has exploded. Programming is no longer dictated by scheduling blocks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. TV production is no longer a zero-sum game. If Netflix does pick up new Full House, that doesn’t mean the end of The Orange is the New Black. And if a new Full House succeeds in bringing in new subscribers for Netflix, that’s good for all of Netflix’s shows.

Set it and forget it

One of the reasons TV reboots are attractive to networks and studios is because most of the development is already done. You don’t need to stick them in the oven for an hour to cook. You can just stick them in the microwave to reheat. TV reboots are, well, the TV dinners of Hollywood. (Kids, if you don’t know what a TV dinner is, ask your parents.)

TV reboots are the TV dinners of Hollywood.

So we’re not missing a season of an original show because we’re getting a season of a reboot instead. TV reboots don’t supplant so-called “original” fare at a one-to-one ratio. If they were as much work, you wouldn’t see as many of them making news. As infomercial king Ron Popeil used to say about his kitchen products: “Set it and forget it!”

Not the same Bat-Channel

Episodes of the campy ‘60s Batman TV series would end with a cliffhanger and a voiceover instructing viewers to “tune in tomorrow at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.” That’s a promise few shows can keep these days can keep these days.

Of all the TV reboots mentioned thus far, only one (The X-Files) is airing on the show’s original home. Twin Peaks is moving from ABC to Showtime, Coach from ABC to NBC, and Full House from ABC to Netflix.

But this show swap is a good thing. Because there are so many outlets now, there is greater competition than ever for content. The TV reboots might get a lot of attention, but that’s only because more people have heard of Full House than all the original material currently in development. The headlines are hardly indicative of what’s really going on.

Yesterday’s teens are today’s powerbrokers

It’s no coincidence that Michael Keaton’s Batman came two decades after Adam West’s, or that The Brady Bunch Movie came two decades after that series’ original run. Twenty years is as long as it takes for a teen to be a thirty-something – i.e. for a kid to become a development executive at a studio or network.

Coach

Children of the ‘90s are now taking the reins of production companies. Even if they aren’t in charge, they have the ears of those who are. We’re talking about Twin Peaks and Full House today, but in ten years we’ll be talking about reboots of Monk and Lost. This has nothing to do with creativity (or lack thereof) and everything to do with passion. Whenever you see a 20-year-old piece of material get the reboot treatment, you better believe that there’s a thirty-something with a real love for the material who pushed to make it happen. And I think that’s great.

Original fare isn’t that original

I’ll take a successful reboot of a TV show from my youth any day over a “new” show that is just a thinly-veiled clone of something else. (I’ll let you figure out which TV shows currently airing fall into the latter boat.) In fact, reboots are breeding grounds for some of the most creative – and original – work coming out of Hollywood right now. Just because the source material is familiar, that doesn’t mean the expression of it has to be. Good stories might start with a good premise, but great stories exist in the details – details that can change every time a story gets retold.

Back to Batman (because everything is always about Batman). Is Fox’s Gotham merely a reboot of the ‘60s Batman TV series? Heck no. Same source material, same location, a lot of the same characters, but no one would ever connect the two (except me, right here).

That’s what I love most about TV reboots. Yes, people cheered the return of X-Files because it’s a chance for Chris Carter to (hopefully) give those characters some closure. But even when shows get new talent behind the camera (which is apparently the case with the new Twin Peaks), that’s a chance for new writers and directors to put their spin on the same source material. If the new take succeeds, that’s great. If it doesn’t, it still serves to highlight what was special about the original.

If I have to take a couple Full Houses for every Battlestar Galactica that comes along, that’s a very small price to pay. Especially since you can never have enough Stamos in your life.

Home Theater

Samsung’s quantum OLED plans could mean better, cheaper OLED TVs for all

If you love the way OLED TVs look but have always been put off by the price, Samsung mat be creating a turning point. Samsung is reportedly planning to make QD-OLED TVs, marrying QLED and OLED into a single, power-packed display.
Home Theater

What is YouTube TV? Here’s everything you need to know

YouTube TV is becoming an increasingly major competitor to other streaming services. Not sure if the service might be right for you? Don’t worry, we have a guide detailing everything you could want to know about the service.
Movies & TV

Apple TV+ : Everything we know about Apple’s Netflix-style streaming service

Apple has an ambitious slate of original programming it has been developing for its streaming service Apple TV+, and now we know some details about where and when we'll be able to see it. Here's everything we know about Apple TV+ so far.
Movies & TV

Forget Batman: Whatever happened to the DCEU’s Flash movie?

The Flash was supposed to hit the big screen in 2018, but obstacles brought DC's fastest hero to a standstill. Now, the DCEU is on the rocks. Will the Scarlet Speedster ever get his own movie? Maybe. Maybe not.
Movies & TV

Easy Rider star and ’60s icon Peter Fonda dies at age 79

Peter Fonda, the son of classic Hollywood actor Henry Fonda who became famous for embracing '60s counterculture both on and off the big screen, has died due to complications from lung cancer.
Movies & TV

The best new podcasts

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series, we’ll help you pick out the best of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include Amazon's rise, medical mysteries, and food, glorious food.
Home Theater

Apple TV+ series The Morning Show gets its first trailer

Apple has released the first, full-length trailer for The Morning Show, its upcoming original series for streaming service Apple TV+ that stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell.
Movies & TV

The best movies streaming on Hulu right now (August 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Hulu right now (August 2019)

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

Enjoy your favorite content in style with the best 4K TVs of 2019

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Movies & TV

The best new podcasts for the week of August 10, 2019: Room 20 and more

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series, we’ll help you pick out the best of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include a mystery man, songs inspired by literature, black women's secret lives, and Adam…
Movies & TV

Disney+: Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming streaming service

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Home Theater

The best streaming devices for 2019

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Movies & TV

Five awesome storylines the new Obi-Wan series on Disney+ needs to explore

Disney is reportedly planning to bring Star Wars prequel star Ewan McGregor back as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi for a solo series on Disney+. Here are five storylines we want to see in a show that puts "Old Ben" front and center.