In the world of Hollywood, the show revival has become the ultimate drug used to attract viewers. The idea is a simple one, you find a hit show from the ’80s or ’90s that had an amazing fan base and bring it back. The logic is simple, the show was a hit decades ago so hey, why not recycle it?
The thinking is, if you bring back the show, the fans will also come back. It’s like they say in “Field of Dreams’” if you build it, again, they will come. Which is relatively true, for about the first 12 minutes of the first episode of the reboot.
They only reason the audience returns is to bask in the nostalgia of a sitcom that they blocked out an evening to watch years ago. The only problem with the sitcom reboot nostalgia formula is that while it has an intense high, it only lasts for a millisecond. The audience has gotten their fix and got to see what has become of the main characters and then they move on to something else.
It’s already proven to be a failure with the revival and cancellation of shows such as “Murphy Brown” and “Roseanne” in the past years.
If you have to take a page out of the “Fuller House” playbook or “Boy Meets Girl,” the show has to open the chapter with new characters that set the tone for a new storyline. The revival has to evolve the story and introduce new characters to give it a fresh take. All the elements that made the show famous are therefore still there and yet you also have something new to introduce to keep your audience interested.
For a recent example, the new Captain Picard TV show’s trailer on CBS Digital definitely took a page out of the nostalgia playbook, calling attention to everything that made “Star Trek” amazing. Now the show is setting up a new storyline, with new characters, and we can see Picard’s Enterprise Days are long behind him, which is sad. But the trailer featured a lot of the nostalgia, such as the ever-famous Borg Seven of Nine and an all-time fan favorite, Data. Now I personally love the character of Data played by the talented Brent Spiner, and just seeing him for those split seconds I already wanted to subscribe to CBS. I had gotten high off the Star Trek-Picard show nostalgia speedball and it felt great.
I know that my favorite characters will be making a comeback, but I’m also invested in wanting to know everything about this new story line. Now if the show was just about Picard still being on the Enterprise I’d be interested a bit, but I already know how the story goes aboard the starship.
That’s why revivals can’t always be the just “we’re going to pick up where we left off.” Because in today’s Hollywood there is so much new content getting created every second that its hard to keep your audience locked in. It’s not that they hate their old show, it’s just that they know the formula and how it goes, so they look elsewhere for something new. I will say though that to revive an old show is a gutsy move, mainly because of all the online competition today. But then, sometimes maybe it’s not always about getting that old audience back, it’s about getting that next generation.