We’ve had the remakes, reboots and reimaginings. The hot “re” trend in entertainment this year is the one making all the buzz over in Television: revivals. And really, it’s funny that it took so long to catch on, because when you look all the other “re” formats, the goal has been the same (trying to capture, capitalize on, or remind people of what made the original such hits), so what took everyone so long to just forget about trying to build a new one and just bringing back the original instead?
Well, while there has been the occasional revival popping up here or there over the past decade, there needed to be one that was significant enough, successful enough to spur it into the next big trend.
And that something happened in early 2016, when FOX brought back one of its most successful, iconic series ever – The X-Files – for a 6-episode 10th season. Coming almost 15 years after it ended its 9-season run and nearly 8 years since the last appearance of its co-stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dan Scully (in the second X-Files film, 2008’s Fight the Future), the revival was a ratings bonanza. Plans were made for an 11th season (which will launch in 2018 with 10 episodes), and suddenly nostalgia was big in the network boardrooms. Now, in 2017 we know what made the short list for the first wave of revivals – so let’s take a look at where we are, and just what kind of revivals we’re dealing with, shall we?
The “Be Careful What You Wish For” Revival
Original Run: 1990 -1991 (2 Seasons)
The return of Twin Peaks after over 25 years had fans and media alike all abuzz, not only because of the groundbreaking nature of the David Lynch/Mark Frost series, but because the original left so many loose ends and had ended on a killer of a cliffhanger, with FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) seemingly possessed by the malevolent BOB, the entity responsible for the death of teen queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) that kicked off the series proper.
Everyone was eager to return to that serene yet unsettling Pacific Northwest hamlet and revisit the admirable and eager Dale Cooper, catch up with fan fave characters like Audrey Horne and to finally get some answers. Unfortunately…
Praised by many for what it was (ambitious, audacious, engrossing), Twin Peaks Season 3 still disappointed many in what it wasn’t. Specifically, it wasn’t a show mainly set in Twin Peaks and it didn’t showcase star Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper (which I would think would be the two “givens” in reviving a show such as this – y’know, setting it in the title town and featuring it’s one true lead character). Instead we got:
- A season that spent a lot of time in Las Vegas and South Dakota (along with New York and various other cities, big and small) with only the occasional detour back to Twin Peaks – not counting the regular closing credits run at the most happening music venue in the Pacific Northwest, The Roundhouse.
- Kyle MacLachlan as bona-fide Dale Cooper for a total of only 3 episodes. Out of 18. Appearing as his evil doppelganger Mr. C was fine and necessary. But instead of having that turn balanced out with our guy Coop, we had to endure over a dozen episodes of MacLachlan as Cooper’s shuffling, infuriating, barely functioning simpleton doppelganger, Dougie Jones. It’s the kind of thing that can make you turn on a show pretty quick.
- New characters favoured over old characters. No offense to Naomi Watts, but when Lynch decides that the wife of Dougie Jones deserves substantial screen time and a nice character arc across the whole season but then doesn’t bring in our beloved Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) until episode 13 and then only gives her a couple of ambiguous scenes that leave us more concerned rather than content, you can’t help but feel Lynch is personally trying to punish us for something.
- So many drawn-out, lingering shots. Twin Peaks Season 3 got upped to 18 episodes at Lynch’s request early in the game. And this is one time I wish a network would have put their foot down with an auteur, because in those 18 episodes, the amount of time spent on silent lingering shots of inaction or silence (to the point where it felt like Lynch was just trolling the audience) could easily have been edited out to leave a nice, tight dozen eps.
And then, in the end, we got Dale Cooper back, we kinda got Laura Palmer back, but then we were left with even more questions (SO many questions), more loose ends, more cliffhangers and no indication at all when or even if we’ll get a Season 4 to provide any sort of closure…to anything. *SIGH*
The “Sure, Why Not?” Revival (aka The “Why Fix It If It Ain’t Broken?” Revival)
Will & Grace
Original run: 1998-2006 (8 seasons)
After a reunion “get out and vote” mini-episode became a viral hit late last year, the rumour of a revival of everyone’s favourite gays n’ gals sitcom quickly started making the rounds.
Soon, all four stars (Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes) announced they were game to come back, and it was on. An unofficial mission statement also let it be known that this was going to be exactly the Will & Grace you remember, just 11 years later (even going so far as to brush off the original finale’s downer of a flash-forward as just a bad dream of Karen’s). Buzz was so positive it was already renewed for a 10th season before season 9 even had it’s premiere. But no worries there, because the return of Will & Grace was exactly what had been promised and they were rewarded for it by giving NBC it’s highest rating for a Thursday night comedy in 10 years.
The “Unsure How To Feel About This” Revival
Original run: 1988-1997 (9 seasons)
Almost three decades ago, Roseanne brought new life to the sitcom family genre by depicting a more realistic tv family than was currently popular (see: The Cosby Show). Everyone remembers how the show introduced us to Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman), their three kids, their perpetually messy house and how even though they struggled to make ends meet, they still found time to love and laugh (and insult and tease and torment).
But what many people fail to remember (or have blocked from their mind) was how off-the-rails it went in its later seasons, culminating in a truly bonkers 9th season where the Conners won the Megaball lottery and then went on to have all sorts of surreal adventures. Then, in the series finale, the whole season, and plenty of the whole series in general just got brushed away in a voice over, with Roseanne narrating that everything we had witnessesd over the years was her retelling of her family history for a book she was writing – but it was a history she had twisted and skewed as a way for her to “deal” with it. So, now, in a voice over, she casually mentions that certain characters’ relationships, professions and even sexual orientations were actually different from what we had come to know all these years. And also, Dan was dead due to the heart attack he was depicted as surviving in season 8.
So yeah, I’m not getting my hopes up too high for this one – but they have managed to wrangle the majority of the cast back, so it looks like we might get another bad dream explanation coming up to explain the resurrection of Dan Conner.
The “No Way, You Are NOT A Revival” Revival
Original Run: doesn’t matter
AI, you do NOT get to call yourself a revival. You are a network shuffle series – a series that shopped itself out to other networks after being cancelled by its former network. You “went dark” for a ONE season – current shows have gone on hiatus for longer – so, I’m sorry (not sorry) but you do not get to jump on the buzzy revival bandwagon.