9 TV Show Reboots That Were Mercifully Cancelled –
Like a computer with a wonky power button (and a few more trees), our world is in a constant state of rebooting. Songs are being re-recorded by different artists, movie franchises are in a constant state of flux, and no television show from a previous decade is allowed to simply rest in peace anymore.
Occasionally TV writers have been able to mine gold from an older series, or from a movie being stretched into a new series, but that’s typically the exception to the rule.
Most TV reboots look good on paper (or, more accurately, on Twitter), but that’s only because it’s really easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgia of it all. Sure, Fuller House seemed like a genuinely big deal for about ten minutes, but those of us who grimaced our way through the first episode, which beat everyone over the head with constant catchphrases and throwback references, can all agree the original show could have been left in the past.
But sadly, Fuller House is far from the worst of the gigantic crop of series reboots to pop up over the last few years. Just count your lucky stars that these monstrosities were, for one reason of another, scrapped.
9. Heroes Reborn
When the original heroes debuted on television in 2006, there was nothing else like it on TV. Never had someone taken to the darker side of superheroes this fervently. Sure, Batman Begins was a good start, but Nolan hadn’t yet dove headlong into the grittiest aspects of Gotham.
There were no capes, no bright colors, and no recognizable comic book names. It was awesome.
But the series accomplished everything it needed to the first time around, so there was no reason to bring it back in 2015. And, in terms of aesthetics and characterization, nothing changed in this “updated” version. It walked like the original and talked like the original, with a somewhat shoddier version of heroes and actors.
Those in charge of Reborn threw everything they had against the wall, introducing way too many characters too quickly, and positioning them against one of the most mediocre villains in recent history.
For fans of the original, who hoped this wouldn’t taint their memories of the at-times amazing series, it was a relief when this was cancelled early on.
8. Beverly Hills Cop
Axel Foley was the precursor to every brash, wise-cracking, uninhibited character in a position of authority throughout the 80s and 90s. Eddie Murphy was a dynamo in Beverly Hills Cop (and its sequels), injecting a fresh perspective into American comedy.
For a brief moment in 2014, we were led to believe we’d see Axel Foley resurrected on the big screen, with Murphy making his cinematic comeback in Beverly Hills Cop 4. Sadly, that project is currently resting in Development Hell, with no release date in sight.
What led to the possibility of a fourth film was actually the development of a Beverly Hills Cop series. Except this would star Axel Foley’s son, played by Brandon T. Jackson, whose biggest credits were Tropic Thunder and Percy Jackson. Still, casting a relatively unknown wasn’t the problem because, after all, Murphy wasn’t exactly a star when he landed the part of Foley.
The big issue was the tone the show was planning to take. Rather than focus on a 50/50 blend of comedy and action as they did in the films, they opted to bring in Shawn Ryan, who’s best known as the creator of The Shield. Which… was not so much with the ha ha. Ryan was also the creator of The Chicago Code, a bland police procedural, and Last Resort, a bland mystery-drama about Navy SEALs.
7. Urban Cowboy
For those without an expert knowledge of John Travolta’s filmography, Urban Cowboy was Travolta’s foray into the Western-Romance genre. The movie’s main plot point revolved around Travolta trying to save his marriage to Debra Winger by winning a mechanical bull-riding contest…because this was 1980 and nothing had to make sense.
If you’re struggling to see why turning this into a TV series might be a substandard idea, allow us to compound the insanity by saying that the writer/director of that horrible Footloose remake was going to be in charge of this one.
Oh, and also, Jim “Does My Contract Come With a Free Bag of Potato Chips?” Belushi was going to have a significant role in the show. Thankfully, this reimagining of “two star-crossed young lovers pursuing their dreams and passions through the sweat of line-dancing in honky-tonks, the grime of the oil refineries, and the glamor of modern Texas” rode off into the sunset before seeing the pilot episode tanked.
Hey, everybody loves Craig T. Nelson. That’s a stone-cold fact. But would our admiration of the delightfully balding actor really carry audiences through an earnest revival of his long-dead series?
The answer, in short: No. No, it would not. And while NBC originally decided that picking up with the main cast (and their now adult children, as is always the case in these reboots) 18 years later was a no-brainer, they changed their mind after re-evaluating the pilot episode.
Nelson’s original right-hand man, Bill Fagerbakke, was slated to return as the dim-witted, comedic foil once again, but can now go back to his full-time gig as Patrick Star, the dim-witted, comedic foil on SpongeBob SquarePants.
5. The Rockford Files
Popular during the mid-to-late 70s, The Rockford Files starred James Garner as the casual-yet-cavalier ex-con turned private investigator, Jim Rockford. Those words may be complete and utter gibberish to you, but recite that sentence to your parents or grandparents and they likely became instantly aroused.
NBC decided to try rebooting the series, because…why not? It was set to star Dermot Mulroney and was being produced by Steve Carrell. Which begs the question: Just who was this reboot meant for?
Putting the de facto rom-com lead, Mulroney, into the lead role would suggest a move towards the 25-to-54 female demographic, but would many of the have been interested in a dusty recreation of a crime drama about a tough-talking P.I.?
The good news is that this reboot was canned after a disastrous pilot episode. The bad news is that there’s still talk of redoing the whole thing as a movie starring Vince Vaughn. So, is it…is it to late to ask for the show back?
4. The Osbournes
Here’s a message to all those in charge or procuring new properties for your network: Just because something is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, that does not mean we want to “catch up with it” in the form of a reboot.
When The Osbourne Family ended their reality show in 2005, the world was more than ready to move on from Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and especially Kelly. Over the course of 4 seasons, we were “treated” to every bit of boring minutiae regarding the livelihoods of the heavy metal icon and his not-as-weird-as-you’d-think kin.
But apparently VH1 figured we were ready to pounce back on the Osbourne-Mania that absolutely did not exist in 2015, announcing plans for another intrusion into the well-to-do family’s home life.
What would that show have looked life? The kids likely didn’t live at home anymore. Ozzy hasn’t done anything notable since 2010. Sharon is working on an even blander version of daytime talk show The View. Kelly works on that same show when she’s not doing voiceovers for a Disney cartoon. Honestly, Jack’s work as an executive producer might be the most interesting aspect of the family dynamic. And that’s…something VH1 thought we were all clamoring to see, apparently.
3. Charlie’s Angels
In a rush to scrape up every last viable property from the 70s, ABC decided to retool Charlie’s Angels “for a new generation,” in 2011. What exactly did that retooling entail? Mostly it was just swapping out the original cast of lovely ladies for a batch of equally pretty, but completely uncharismatic actresses with little-to-no name recognition.
Whereas the original series (and the successful movie remakes) soared on the chemistry between the Angels and, to a lesser extent, their relationship with their boss, the ABC reboot sunk like a really awkward anvil that didn’t know how to develop a rapport with the other anvils.
Minka Kelly struggled mightily to make herself a believable human being for the camera, while Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. Add to that a truly horrible batch of storylines, and it came as no surprise that the series was cancelled just four episodes in.
2. Murder, She Wrote
When octogenarian and all-around pleasant lady Dame Angela Lansbury, the star of the original series, starts sh-t talking your reboot, it’s probably time to start rethinking the idea. Lansbury was vocal in her admonition of using the Murder, She Wrote moniker to retread the basic premise:
That’s elderly woman speak for “Shut this !*$% thing down, dickweeds.” But NBC persevered with the reboot, using the exact same premise, supplanting The Help’s Octavia Spencer in the role of the amateur sleuth. But it died a quick death, ending before it ever really got off the ground, which relieved not just Lansbury, but Spencer, as well:
1. The Flintstones
Seth McFarlane’s plan to take over the world’s supply of primetime animated television one property at a time was primed to ramp up once again in 2012, with the Family Guy creator set to dig his “satirical” claws into one of the most universally beloved cartoons of all time, The Flintstones.
What exactly were his plans with Barney, Fred, and prehistoric Bedrock? Well, if literally every other Seth McFarlane show can be used as a template, it would have been another story about an insane, slovenly head of the household treating his wife and family to constant degradation. But, ya know… in the olden times.
The Flintstones obviously had a major hand in motivating McFarlane’s career, but there was little-to-no chance of him not turning the series into another Family Guy photocopy. And, just because the rights holders of The Rubbles felt it appropriate to go all in with McFarlane, they also granted him the opportunity to make more Flintstones movies if he felt the urge.
The president of Fox Entertainment reportedly told McFarlane, in regards to his ideas for how to go about recreating Bedrock, he “liked it, but didn’t love it.”