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Top 10 Rockin' and Rotten TV Remakes

- June 13, 2012


Original article by: Telly Davidson (published October 4, 2010)

Updated by: Maj Canton



No question about it. The hottest new series this Summer is officially TNT’s resurrection of the primetime sudser DALLAS.  Plus, this Fall The CW is rebooting BEAUTY & THE BEAST and CBS is re-doing BBC's SHERLOCK as ELEMENTARY; meanwhile, NBC is set to premiere a new MISTRESSES in May 2013 and is developing an updated version of the original MUNSTERS from Bryan Fuller and Brian Singer.  In honor -- and sometimes in pointed DIS-honor -- of these series makeovers, we here at TV Tango dress down the best and the worst of TV's remakes, reboots, and reworkings.


TNT airs the 75-minute series premiere of DALLAS tonight, June 13, 2012, at 9pm ET/PT, followed immediately by a second new episode.



HAWAII FIVE-0 (CBS, 2010-????), a reboot of HAWAII FIVE-0 (CBS, 1968-1980)

This casual, fun Five-0 is way more enjoyable than the original for viewers UNDER the big Five-0. Having a sexy, sweaty, shirtless, unshaven Steve McGarrett is about as far from the grim, blue-suited 1970s version as Hawaii is from Danno's New Jersey. Bonus points for having some female ass-kickers, as opposed to the all-male team of the old McGarrett. 

Remake verdict: Rockin'

Why the remake is rockin': On a scale of 1 to 5, Alex and Scott Caan’s attitude makes this up-to-the-minute reboot a real Hawaii 5.0.

KOJAK (USA, 2005), a reboot of KOJAK (CBS, 1973-1978)

Just think – if this remake had worked, Universal’s next plan was to reboot Dennis Weaver’s macho, slow-talkin’ MCCLOUD – with Brett Butler in the title role! Despite star Ving Rhames’ considerable talents, this cash-in remake of the disco era’s favorite lollipop-sucking cop just plain sucked.   

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: The ads proclaimed "bald is back on the streets," but bald -- and bad-ass -- was already being done better on THE SHIELD. Plus, the slo-mo shots in the new KOJAK lasted longer than an all-day lollipop.

L.A. DRAGNET (ABC, 2003 / USA, 2004), a reboot of DRAGNET (NBC, 1951-1959) & DRAGNET (NBC, 1967-1970)

The third time was no charm for this unintentionally campy remake of DRAGNET -- actually it was the fourth since there was a deservedly forgotten syndicated NEW DRAGNET in the late '80s. By the time it was on USA, it was just another procedural that had nothing to do with the original show – except the name. Was this Dick Wolf's first pilot for LAW & ORDER: L.A.?

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: Friday investigated more sensational crimes, but it wasn't modernized enough -- Friday still had no visible personal life and cases never had twists. Ed O'Neill wished his name had "been changed to protect the innocent."

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi/Syfy, 2005-2009), a reboot of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (ABC, 1978-1980)

While the original was conceived as little more than a small-screen STAR WARS ripoff, the new space ride lasted longer, launched a spinoff (CAPRICA), made touching comments on man-vs-man, religion, war, and had what is widely considered one of the best series finales of all time. Bonus points for losing the original’s creepy robot dog.

Remake verdict: Rockin'

Why the remake was rockin': This sci-fi remake turned treasure from trash, and brought soul to what was once a barren planet of space junk.

THE FUGITIVE (CBS, 2000-2001), a reboot of THE FUGITIVE (CBS, 1963-1967)

This looked like it had everything going for it -- talented stars Tim Daly and Mykelti Williamson, the original FUGITIVE creator Roy Huggins consulting, and the biggest buzz of any Fall 2000 series. Despite all that, it was under arrest in eight months.  Faring somewhat better was the show's lead-out, a little number about crime-fighting forensic scientists called CSI

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: It skipped out on Kimble's history and went straight to the one-town-per-episode premise with Gerard in a constant and predictably pointless pursuit.

LOVE BOAT: THE NEXT WAVE (UPN, 1998-1999), a reboot of THE LOVE BOAT (ABC, 1977-1986)

TV’s dry-docked answer to the Titanic dropped anchor on day one. This may have been TV’s most ill-fated voyage since Gilligan set sail on the S.S. Minnow or John Locke boarded Oceanic Flight 815. At least this one had Robert Urich. 

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: Jessica Alba, Marion Ross, Ricardo Montalban and Danica McKellar all appeared early on the NEXT WAVE itinerary, but Charo and Florence Henderson were missing at sea -- both eight-time passengers on the original LOVE BOAT. Not even a reunion for Vicki's wedding could save the Sun Princess from sinking.

FANTASY ISLAND (ABC, 1998-1999), a reboot of FANTASY ISLAND (ABC, 1978-1984)

The pain, boss, the pain!  A black-suited Mr. Roarke, a shape-shifting minx named Ariel, two elderly “travel agents” booking the sinister-seeming missions, creepy subplots about people possibly being held on Fantasy Island against their will or as an afterlife punishment -- and no Tattoo! 

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: Mr. Roarke's fantasy never came true, and Malcolm McDowell summed it up best: "They didn't really have the scripts. It was supposed to be dark and it never materialized. Better that it was canned."

THE BIONIC WOMAN (NBC, 2007), a reboot of THE BIONIC WOMAN (ABC/NBC, 1976-1978)

This could have been a rockin’ remake, but we barely got to know it -- after eight weeks, production was shut down due to forces (a.k.a. the writers' strike) beyond the control of even a high-tech government agency.  The Bionic Woman could lift cars over her head, but this show had so many plots up in the air, it was probably The Six Million Dollar Loss for NBC.

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: Michelle Ryan didn't have Lindsay Wagner's onscreen charisma, and she delivered Jaime's trite dialogue like a robot. Maybe it never should have been remade since the original only lasted two seasons.

90210 (CW, 2008-????), a reboot of BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 (FOX, 1990-2000)

Now this is the way to do a remake -- an ethnically and sexual-preferentially diverse cast of sexy silver-spooners, top guest stars like Jessica Walter, John Schneider, Rumer Willis (and of course Shannen Doherty!)  Strong female characters to satisfy the shoe-shopping and Buffy sets, but enough action and drama for the dudes, too. 

Remake verdict: Rockin'

Why the remake is rockin': This zippy zip coder is similar enough to the original to be recognizable -- but it isn’t just a designer knockoff.  Like the Weezer song says, “Beverly Hills -- that’s where I want to be!”

MELROSE PLACE (CW, 2009-2010), a reboot of MELROSE PLACE (FOX, 1992-1999)

“He’s just like Michael Mancini -- only newer!”  “She’s the New Amanda.”  “He has the taut abs and thick black book that prove he’s just like his father, Jake Hansen.” But did anybody still care about a show that had been off the air for 10 years? 

Remake verdict: Rotten

Why the remake was rotten: The new faces just weren't that interesting. And when some of the originals showed up -- Thomas Calabro’s Michael Mancini, Laura Leighton’s resurrected-from-the-dead Sydney, and even Heather Locklear’s Amanda Woodward -- they only reminded the few who did remember how much we’d like to forget this remake.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: THE NEW PERRY MASON SHOW (CBS, 1973–74)

Objection, your Honor! Remember when someone else (Monte Markham) tried to fill the shoes of Raymond Burr’s iconic burly barrister? Neither do we! At least they had the good sense to feature MATCH GAME battleaxe Brett Somers as a co-star. CBS mercifully reversed their decision in 13 weeks.

And a Few More: Since so many TV series were updated versions of earlier small screen shows, we decided to highlight six more memorable -- and not-so-memorable -- programs:



(ABC, 1982-1983)


(SYN, 1988-1991)


(NBC, 2003)


(CBS, 1984-1987)


(NBC, 1979-1981)


(NBC, 2011-2012)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Telly Davidson is the author of the distinctly groovy Emmy Academy-cited book, TV's Grooviest Variety Shows, worked on the prime-time specials PIONEERS OF TELEVISION (PBS) and Most Outrageous Game Show Moments (NBC), and has reviewed TV and film for over a dozen magazines and websites -- when he isn't just happily watching. And as anyone who knows him can attest – he’s a true original.