Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week: Canadian TV reboots — Yay or Nay?
There has been a lot of coverage regarding television reboots lately, the most recent being that Netflix is bringing Full House back with some of the original cast for a short-run season. ET Canada celebrated Classic Canadian TV Week with cast reunions for Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Due South, Danger Bay (a reboot of that is happening) and Street Legal, and just over a week ago, the Edmonton Journal asked readers which classic Canadian TV show they would like to see back on the air.
If it’s done right, a remake can be very effective. I found Netflix’s re-visit of Arrested Development to be wildly choppy story-wise but it was fun as heck to see all of those characters reunited. I know plenty of Boy Meets World fans who were thrilled that franchise was returning with Girl Meets World and tuned in to check it out. Revisiting an established show with new stories pulls at the heartstrings and remember the times in our lives when our biggest worry was getting that high school project done. It’s no secret that television networks are desperate to keep people glued to the small screen, and reboots are a safe answer. Despite two awful feature films, I’m giddy as a schoolboy that Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are getting back together for more X-Files adventures.
But like I said, a re-visit of an old series has to be done the right way. With that in mind, here are four Canadian TV series I think could be brought back for today’s audiences.
Due North: A Due South Mystery
Sixteen years after Due South went off the air, Constable Benton Fraser is retired and living on a ranch in Alberta. He’s got a pretty wife, a dog (the pooch is a direct descendant of the late, great Diefenbaker), a field full of cattle and a quiet life. His idyllic existence is shattered when he receives a phone call: Ray Vecchio needs his help. Ray has gotten involved with some very bad dudes in Chicago and needs somewhere to hide. Benton secrets him across the border, where Ray finds himself a fish out of water in the land of big skies. This would be the first in a series of Due South TV-movies aimed at gradually reuniting the remaining cast in various situations and crime solving.
The Beachcombers: The Next Generation
To celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the end of The Beachcombers, this limited-run series of six episodes catches up with the families of Nick Adonidas and Relic Phillips. The two groups are still feuding over errant logs, but the battle is even more complicated than it used to be. Why? Because Nick’s granddaughter and Relic’s grandson are a couple with a baby on the way and everyone tries to get along for the sake of those two. And yes, this project totally ignores The New Beachcombers TV-movie.
Still Ready or Not
Teen angst isn’t new—Degrassi is proof positive of that—so why not revisit this little beauty from the 90s by meeting up with the daughters of Amanda and Busy, who just happen to live next door to one another?
Da Vinci: MP
After serving as Vancouver’s chief coroner on Da Vinci’s Inquest for seven seasons, Dominic Da Vinci made the jump to mayor of the city for one season. This update spotlights Da Vinci as a member of parliament, walking the hallowed halls of Ottawa, making deals for his home province and enemies of fellow politicians with his no-nonsense approach.
Wow, Greg got all creative and came up with some pitches. I can’t say I have a burning desire for even my favourite shows to come back, unless it’s something like Intelligence where I want a cliffhanger ending resolved, or Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays where a single season seemed inadequate and you can hardly consider it a creatively bankrupt money-grab to bring it back. Bringing back a long-dead, long-running show seems particularly unnecessary to me. Now that many of the main actors are dead, is there really unexplored territory in log gathering? I’ll watch the new X-Files with great trepidation.
Reading the entire series of books featuring Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame) made me realize early in my life that more is not necessarily better. I was happy Kevin Sullivan didn’t go on to show Anne and Gilbert’s son dying in WWI, for example (though let’s not speak of the abomination that was his not-based-on-the-books The Continuing Story). I kind of hated the Arrested Development return. I’d almost always rather see something original from the brain of someone I admire creatively than see them try to recapture a magic that is so often capricious.
The common wisdom is it’s easier creatively and marketing-ly to start from a known premise. I’m not sure that’s always the case. In some ways, the earlier work adds constraints that a blank slate doesn’t. Plus it can be a world of diminishing returns: how do you convince someone to see Problem Child 10 if they haven’t seen 1 through 9?
Yet reboots and sequels have been with us forever. Most of Shakespeare’s oeuvre is remakes of earlier stories. Degrassi is on its umpteenth incarnation. Maybe it’s the difference social media makes I don’t remember the rolling of eyes as with Fuller House the last time Degrassi came back. Granted it’s been a generation since Full House, but contrary to what some self-appointed spokespeople for the human race have said, there are many who loved the show at the time and remember the show fondly. The derision of Seventh Heaven by online critics primed me to be wary of those ironically dismissing a show because they are not in a show’s demographic.
Remember how we fawned over Netflix’s use of viewer data to inform their original series selections? OK, downside, it led to more Adam Sandler movies in production, but I have faith they know there’s a gap in their original family-friendly fare. Unless people are sitting around with the kidlets watching Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, this seems a smart step for Netflix to leverage the enormous popularity of kids programming on their service. Fuller House might be a show that bridges the gap between younger viewers and more nostalgic ones.
I’d love to see a Littlest Hobo reboot on CTV (as if) or CBC, not because I want to watch it (though come on, I totally would for a few episodes) but because it’s the kind of program Canadian networks have all but abandoned, where children to grandparents can enjoy. Heartland is probably the closest, though it likely skews older than good old Hobo.
But really, Canadian TV isn’t exactly overflowing with original series as it is, and unlike Netflix has to consider what fits on a broadcast schedule, so I hope they stay away from reboots and start having more faith in truly original programming.