It is the era of revivals, as people continue to find comfort in shows they once knew, and loved. Just take a look at the buzz Friends: The Reunion has created. Comprising characters that trigger a sense of nostalgic value, an idea to bring such shows back inadvertently generates excitement among the viewers. No wonder then that classic shows like Frasier, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sex And The City poised for a return.
And why not? They already have a pre-existing fan base (which forms the foundation of their marketing strategy), and their pilots almost always guarantee massive viewership. But the question is – are these reboots really as good, quality-wise? Sadly, more often than not, they aren’t. We look back at a few examples.
Arrested Development (2011)
Arrested Development was an absurdist take on an amoral and dysfunctional Bluth family. It won critical acclaim in its original run on Fox from 2003 to 2006. It won multiple Emmys and was called the “best sitcom on TV” by the likes of Entertainment Weekly. Time magazine referred to it as “one of the greatest shows ever.” It was a show that revolutionized comedy. It did not have a studio audience or a laugh track (which were staples at that time). Instead, it brought in dark humour and had long-running gags.
The show’s fans went into a tizzy when Netflix decided to bring it back in 2011. However, the reboot was a monumental disappointment. There were many reasons for it. The cast (Michael Cera, Jason Bateman and Jessica Walter) was now popular, and it became difficult for them to come back, and fully commit to the show. Unlike the original, the storylines now ran independently and rarely overlapped. This gave the series an awkward pace that lacked innovation. The show did try to bring back the catchphrases that made the original … well, original. But the presence of these catchphrases now seemed out of place and forced. Therefore, when the show was re-revived for season five in 2018, the world had already forgotten about it.
Murphy Brown (2018)
Murphy Brown (which aired in the late 80s and 90s) was a popular show with a political undertone. Revolving around the life of an investigative journalist and a popular news anchor, its focus on politics was not overwhelming. It was auxiliary; there to fuel the comedy, which was the foremost priority of the show. However, when CBS revived the show 20 years later, the comedy seemed to take a backseat. The protagonist, now in a cable morning show, shouted agendas in a way that felt dated, and unfunny. It seemed as if its viewers too saw through this façade. And hence, after 13 episodes that constituted its 11th season, the series was cancelled for good.
Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai Take 2 (2017)
Based on a family with hilariously different yet endearing personalities, the first season of Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai was well ahead of its time. The second season, on the contrary, was too stuck in its time and its ways. The reasons that made the show popular originally were not enough to keep it afloat the second time round. The reboot was also guilty of overusing the things that worked for it previously – be it Rosesh’s ‘poetry’, or Madhusudan fufa’s hearing problems. It deromanticized nostalgia as its early viewers couldn’t experience the joy they expected after adoring for the show for years. The original season, in fact, still works because it represents a simpler time that probably can never be reproduced.
Community was an inventive show about a suspended lawyer’s life in community college. After three brilliant seasons of meta-humour, the show dipped after its showrunner Dan Harmon was fired. While he was eventually re-hired for the fifth season, the damage had already been done to the storytelling – resulting in its discontinuation.
Harmon then tried to revive the show by premiering its sixth season on Yahoo! Screen (yes, there was a time when Yahoo had a streaming platform). To be fair, the sixth season was not that bad. It, in fact, did manage to bring back the essence and humour of the show’s early seasons. The problem was that not a lot of people knew about Yahoo! Screen. And consequently, the viewership suffered – eventually contributing to the platform’s demise.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016)
Netflix decided to bring back the popular mother-daughter dramedy, Gilmore Girls, in 2016. The result was underwhelming to say the least. For starters, the show got rid of its catchy intro song, which only made a cameo appearance in the end credits of the last episode. The relationship of Lorelai and Luke is frustratingly identical to the original series; the once independent and hard-working Rory was now annoyingly entitled. The show also had jokes that were well past their sell-by date. Oh, and there is also a fake Chad Michael Murray. By the end of the series, most viewers hoped that there would be no revival of this revival.
Khichdi Returns (2018)
Khichdi Returns was the third season of the Khichdi franchise, whose second season (Instant Khichdi) ended in 2006. It delivered what was expected out of it. It remained a madcap sitcom about a joint family and its many adventures. All the characters essentially remained the same. Other than the expected change in the child artists and the return of Vandana Pathak as Jayshree (after she was replaced by Nimisha Vakharia in the movie), the show was… exactly the same. And that is where the problem lied. The show had exhausted every possible storyline from the Parekh universe and had nothing new to offer. Thus, the revival became mundane, and not as good as its predecessors.