As you may have heard at the Emmys (and as we hear whenever we get press releases from the network), FOX has gone Green this fall. It turns out, however, that all of the networks have learned the wisdom of recycling.
It was bad enough when the most talked about shows of the fall included a ’70s remake (Bionic Woman), a spin-off (Private Practice), a teen lit adaptation (Gossip Girl) and an extended Geico commercial (Cavemen). Those were all attempts to turn popular formats into fresh successes.
Bob Dylan once sang, "She knows there’s no success like failure/ And that failure’s no success at all," but this week’s hot piece of network thinking is that failure is the new success.
It was only a week ago that it was first reported that ABC requested a new version of the 1998-99 cult favorite Cupid from original series creator Rob Thomas. Today comes the news that FOX has asked for two new scripts for the 2003 midseason comedy The Pitts, transforming the dysfunctional family sitcom into an animated half-hour, still from original creators Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully.
Because two resurrections is just a coincidence and three makes a trend, I’m inclined to also mention that back in the summer, Fox Reality announced plans to reinvent the 2003 summer FOX reality soap Paradise Hotel as an unscripted drama about gold-digging sluts and himbos locked in a tropical resort serving as Petri dishes for all manner of sexually transmitted diseases. Hey, they can’t all be major overhauls!
There’s a certain amount of logic to both of the first two moves. Beyond just the conventional wisdom that the quirky romance Cupid was just ahead of its time and that it would be a far better fit for ABC’s current schedule than it was in 1998 and than Big Shots is now, Cupid was a show that was beloved by its half-a-dozen fans. The Pitts may not evoke the same nostalgia, but it doesn’t take a genius to see where FOX would put a new Simpsons-esque animated family comedy in its schedule, since it couldn’t possibly be less funny than American Dad. With possible industry strikes looming, who can blame FOX for trying to get a little mileage out of under-aired failures. Could animated versions of The Grubbs, Still Life, The Ortegas, Anchorwoman and Nashville be far behind?
So I’d like to pose a question that Friend of Zap2it Alan Sepinwall has already asked his readers: What quickly cancelled show from the past 10 or 15 years do you think could be a bigger success if it were brought back now in a recast or reimagined form?
[I’m not asking what show you want back that the networks cancelled. If Invasion and Drive both tanked in the past two years, bringing them back this week probably wouldn’t help, unless you think the world is ready for a song-and-dance version of Invasion.]
But do you think Manimal could finally become a hit with today’s special effects? Would viewers warm to the anti-heroic lead of Profit if the show aired on FX? If you brought Threat Matrix back as an puppet-driven comedy, could it strike a chord?
What do you think?