Thursday Open Thread: TV Remakes

I complain and complain and complain that there’s no creativity left on television. We’ve got reality TV, and now we have remakes.

Yes, remakes. We started with things like Knight Rider (failed), 90210 (uggh), and most recently, Melrose Place (is this one still on the bubble?). Now we hear that they’re putting together La Femme Nikita, The Rockford Files, and Hawaii 5-0. So this leads me to ask:

What show do you want to see remade? And what show shouldn’t be?

Get creative. Tell me how you’d love to see Step by Step compiling all those little Disney kids, or how if they dare touch your sacred WKRP in Cincinnati, you’ll be angry enough to spit.

But then again, they’re not all bad. What about The Office, which was formerly BBC. Maybe you want to give an American Merlin a chance (wow, that would tank hardcore).

But then again maybe you’re mad that a remake is still on the air–or that one didn’t make it. Cupid remake, anyone? I know that’s a sore spot for some. Or maybe the idea of remakes just makes your skin crawl, and you want them off the air completely.

Share it–or vent it–in the comments.

By the way, here’s an interesting article about TV remakes. Looks like a lot of people are thinking about it!

And yes, I guess you could argue that 90210 isn’t technically a remake since it has a whole new set of characters and some of the old ones still appear, but it’s basically trying to be the same show, so I think it counts. And I think the only thing that has improved between the two…are the shoes.

*images from tubatv.wordpress.com and pioneerlocal.com

It’s a brand-new May

[To the tune of Dr. Horrible's "Brand-new Day"]

It’s a brand-new May
And the sun is high
All networks are singing
That they’re gonna die
Go a head an laugh
Hey, I’m a funny guy…
Tell everyone good-bye…
It’s a brand-new May…
[STOMP]

Yes, yes. It’s the time for season and series finales. Honestly, why is it that I don’t know yet which shows are having series finales? Oh, maybe it’s because it’s all up to cancellation announcements (no, we haven’t heard about Dollhouse yet).

Anyway, it’s the time of year–May and, well, the week before it–where finales rule and characters die. Who’s spouting springtime deaths?

Heroes, for one, unless they already did the damage they were planning with Elle and Daphne. Personally, I’m hoping for more.

Then there’s Smallville, which is killing off two to three characters. It’s questionable as to whether the third character will be in body or mind, but there will certainly be some carnage.

For a while there, we thought there’d be some death in Grey’s Anatomy. I guess we still don’t know anymore about that one.

And then there’s One Tree Hill, which is constantly trying to kill off Dan (though I hear he’s not going anywhere…yet), and there is the question of Peyton and the baby. And have they signed her or Lucas on for another season? I haven’t heard a yes or no yet. All speculation, though.

I’ve also heard that not everyone is in the clear on Desperate Housewives. But then again, that’s always the case.

House already greeted us with our death for the season. I can’t say anyone was expecting the Kutner surprise.

And then there’s Dollhouse. I know nothing about whether anyone will live or die, but it is Joss Whedon, so that’s always the chance. Plus, you hear the name “Alpha,” and you automatically get scared. I’d say there is a good chance for some terror and death–again, all speculation.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear that we’ve got some big episodes coming up on our favorite shows, and those are just the ones I’m willing to share info about or speculate on (and trust me, Dollhouse is complete speculation; I won’t share my opinions about who I think could kick it, though if you want to know my thoughts, just ask).

My point in all this is to not let your favorite finales pass you by. Somehow they’re sneaking up on me, so I don’t want you all to miss out! I mean, Heroes is tomorrow, people!

So here is a list of some of the shows I cover (and a few other popular ones that I know the kids are watching), so you’ll be sure to catch your favorites as they sign off (hopefully) for the summer. A complete list can be found here.

Monday, April 27: Chuck and Heroes
Wednesday, April 29: Better Off Ted
Thursday, April 30: Samantha Who?
Wednesday,  May 6: Scrubs and The Unusuals
Friday, May 8: Dollhouse
Sunday, May 10: Brothers & Sisters
Monday, May 11: The Big Bang Theory, House, and Castle
Tuesday,  May 12: Fringe
Thursday, May 14: Smallville, Parks and Recreation, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, and 30 Rock
Friday,  May 15: Ghost Whisperer and Prison Break
Sunday, May 17: Desperate Housewives
Monday,  May 18: Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, and One Tree Hill
Tuesday,  May 19: 90210
Wednesday, May 20: America‘s Next Top Model
Thursday,  May 21: Ugly Betty and Southland
Tuesday, May 26: Reaper and My Boys

So keep those eyes glued to the TV, people. It’s a brand-new May…

The Little Tree Hill That Could

I wish I could find the worlds to explain the joy that fell over me today when I heard the news.

A. The CW is NOT folding like a beach chair on the back lot of a tailgating party after a loss.

B. One Tree Hill has been renewed.

Oh, little One Tree Hill, don’t you make me happy?

Last night I remember reading a wee (yet vague) spoiler about the finale of the show, and I remember wondering how that would fit in a series finale. I figured it was a series finale. After all, The CW is not doing well, and I don’t know what would save it. Plus, who thinks about One Tree Hill other than me?

Well, apparently that “finale” will be a season finale because it’s gotten an early pickup for next year, including five other shows: Smallville, Supernatural, 90210, Gossip Girl, and America’s Next Top Model. No, it’s true. Read it here.

Now, you know I’m thrilled. I’m a wee bit surprised, as OTH is not really the show of shows and it definitely isn’t one that will get The CW on the map. But then again, I read an article in Entertainment Weekly this year that basically said that it’s the underdog that stays just above the cancel line in ratings, but just below the radar that gives it the freedom to take risks. No one pays attention to it, so it stays and works. And no, ratings are going up.

I’ll take that! I like it!

As for the others, I’m not surprised about 90210 or Gossip Girl. Even Supernatural. But Smallville? This show is way done. It should have ended with Clark starting at the Daily Planet, which was in the season opener this year. How can it really keep going? Haven’t we lost Lex Luthor by now anyway?

And then there’s ANTM, which is no surprise, too. This show will never die. If The CW didn’t pick it up, we’d be seeing it on another network. I mean, look where all it’s syndicated! Someone would have picked it up. No problem.

So how about our little WB and UPN survivors? Four out of six are from the original networks. Only two are newbies. The big question is what they’ll do next. Reaper and Privileged are two favorites that aren’t renewed yet, and you know some people are sweating bullets. But it’s early yet. There’s still time. But will loyal followings bring the power to renew? Is there room in the schedule with the new shows they’re developing (like Melrose Place and the Gossip Girl spinoff–I cringe at both of those, by the way).

Only time will tell. Right now, this just makes me want to go sit in a corner with a blanket and read my Season Finale book, reliving the rise and fall of The WB and UPN. You know what? Maybe I will.

The Jonas Brothers and Twilight? Together at last?

It’s not enough to have Twilight. It’s not enough to have Dakota Fanning and Vanessa Hudgens wanting in on the franchise (not including the uglier of the girls on 90210), but now the JoBros want a shot.

The Jonas Brothers want to have a chunk of the Twilight fame. For the second movie, New Moon, the JoBros would like to have a song on the soundtrack.

Now, I never saw the first movie. I’ve read the books. For some reason, I just naturally assumed that the music in the movie was more instrumental and dark than Disney pop. But maybe I’m wrong. I never saw it.

You know who else has never seen it? The Jonas Brothers.

Apparently, they want to. I wonder if they’ve listened to the soundtrack. I guess the movie does have vocal artists on it (including Robert Pattinson?), but with artists like Collective Soul, Iron & Wine, and Linkin Park, somehow the Jonas Brothers just don’t fit.

Maybe I’m wrong. Again, I haven’t seen the film. Maybe girls will explode to see the JoBros alongside Twilight. All I can say is this: If they do work together, and they all attend the premiere in LA, I bet I can hear those screams from Boston.

What’s on tonight? Tuesday edition.

What’s on tonight, America? Well, not The Secret Life for our sakes. ABC Family’s finally giving us a break from that crappy show. No, I did not watch last night’s episode. No, I don’t want to know what happens. And yes, I wouldn’t mind pushing the entire cast and the creator, Brenda Hampton, into a lake. Much like Luke did to Jess in Gilmore Girls.

ABC’s got some new shows premiering. Homeland Security USA is a new heart-warmer for all you that need some of that action. (Might also let you appreciate delays with airport security, who knows!) The real ABC story, though, is the new episodes of Scrubs, which makes its move from NBC to ABC tonight. I’ll definitely be catching that. Then there’s a new episode of Primetime: What Would You Do?. I don’t even know what that show is.

CBS has a full night of new episodes of old favorites for you crime buffs out there: NCIS, The Mentalist, and Without a Trace.

NBC brings us back to “reality” with a two-hour Biggest Loser: Couples and then follows it up with a new Law and Order: SVU. Not exactly my night of TV, but I guess some people like that.

The CW is giving new episodes of Privileged and 90210. I’m not an avid watcher of these shows, but I know some people are big fans, so I hope you all enjoy it! I’ll be on the Scrubs train.

And as for FOX: a big nothing new after last night’s failure of a Fiesta Bowl (as a Buckeye fan, I’m heartbroken). Too bad. I’m looking forward to new Fringe.

Are the networks devoid of smart?

It’s not really a new question. In fact, people have asked it a lot. And in the void of new episodes of TV, I was thinking about it.

I remember when The Sopranos started on HBO. Now, I’ve never had HBO, so I never saw this series or Sex and the City until they were syndicated many years later. So it would bug the crap out of me to watch the Emmys or the Golden Globes and find all the awards going to shows I’ve never seen. And it still happens with HBO series and Showtime, too!

But now it’s spread a little further. If you look at the most recent list of Golden Globe nominees, you’ll see that the four basic networks–ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX–aren’t nearly as represented as HBO, Showtime, and even TNT.

And why is that the case? Well, it seems to me that the four basic networks just don’t really have the time or money to spend on “smart” TV.

But let’s backtrack. What do I mean by “smart”? Well, I don’t mean “creative,” though there have been a number of cancellations for creative shows. I never watched Pushing Daisies, but you can’t disagree that it had a creative background and premise. Eli Stone, too. So it’s not necessarily creativity that I’m looking at.

Take a look at Studio 60. It was a very “smart” show. You really had to tune in and pay attention to really enjoy the show because there were a lot of storylines that fell below an episode’s plot–like Danny’s past addictions or Tom’s brother at war. It provoked thought.

Now, we take a look at shows like 90210 and The Office, which are basically spin-off/remakes of older, fresher favorites. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Office, but we’ve moved away from subtle humor in past seasons, and we’re now to the slapstick variety and cardboard characters.

And yes, there are exceptions. Lost is clearly a smart concept, though again, I haven’t seen it (sorry, I missed the first season and never caught up). But other shows have tried to keep mysteries throughout a series and they’ve fallen flat with few viewers: Hidden Palms and Reunion are just two.

Other shows have brought about the smart in the viewers; Numb3rs is  a huge example, where the show is actually bringing about mathematical ideas into a show that would otherwise be just a basic crime show.

But overall, there seems to be a lack of smart. When The West Wing, ER, and Gilmore Girls started, there were random quips and stronger storylines. However, people followed them. I know it seems odd that I included Gilmore Girls in there, but honestly, the fast-talking pop-culture basis really carried a smart feel–a feel that really declined in later seasons.

So what’s bringing this about? I’m afraid to say it (though I already have), but time and money. But whose?

Without viewers, shows can’t last. So if viewers won’t give a show like Studio 60 a chance because they don’t want to put that much attention to an hour-long program, then what can the networks really do? But then again, Pushing Daisies did have viewers. So what happened there?

Clearly, some of the fault lies in the networks. How long is long enough to decide? Four episodes (Drive)? Nine episodes (Reunion)? Fourteen (Firefly)? Twenty-five (Tru Calling)?

[Ok, I wasn't trying to only pick FOX shows there, but hey, look what happened. You get a prize if you can figure out what else all of those shows have in common.]

And you have to admit, the networks do have more problems with money. Unlike HBO, they don’t have a subscription basis, which means they can’t put all their money into one show. Cable series have had this advantage. They have much tighter budgets, and if something doesn’t make money AND QUICK, it can’t be on TV.

So true, they are at a disadvantage, but why do they have to go to reality TV before putting together something quality? Raising the Bar could have easily been shown on any network other than TNT, but it wasn’t. Possibly The Closer, too. Instead, we have too many competition shows and game shows–and Jay Leno’s getting his own nightly talk show at 10:00 pm!

What’s disappointing is that now I watch TV, and I’m bored. I want the smart back. I’d like to know that our basic networks aren’t free due to bad programming.

But anyway, what do you think? Viewers’ faults for not watching? Networks for not giving shows a chance? Or cable for being bullies? All opinions welcome.

ABC, I want a do-over

Looks like ABC is in the business of buying. Buying new and used shows. Not only were they in the mix to buy the newly dumped King of the Hill, but they’re going to be airing Scrubs midseason, which they bought from NBC last year. Really, this is all new to me. I’ve only known this to happen in the past with Sister, Sister (bought by the WB way back when from ABC, I believe) and, of course, Buffy (bought from the WB by UPN).

What’s new for ABC is that they’re buying their own show…that they cancelled…ten years ago.

That’s right. ABC is now in production for the new show Cupid–I mean, the old show Cupid…which is new…kinda.

In 1998, ABC aired the TV show Cupid, starring the now esteemed Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame and created by Rob Thomas. The show surrounded a character named Trevor Hale, who might be Cupid! Among the cast was Paula Marshall, who played Dr. Claire Allen. The show only lasted about 14 or 15 episodes and then was cancelled.

For 2009, ABC is airing the TV show Cupid, starring Bobby Cannavale, who played the on-again-off-again boyfriend to Will on Will & Grace (who strangely has the same facial shape and structure as Jeremy Piven, hmmm), and is created by Rob Thomas. The show surrounds a character named Trevor Hale, who might be Cupid! Among the cast is Sarah Paulson, who plays Dr. Claire Allen.

Say what? It’s the SAME SHOW. Ten years later, ABC is picking up the failed show it cancelled itself that starred an actor that’s now grown into fame and fortune with Emmy Awards under his belt. So we’re trying to replace the lead with someone who’s claim to fame is being a recurring character in a series from about five years ago.

Plus, the leading lady doesn’t compare in looks to the original. No offense to Sarah Paulson (I’m a huge fan of Studio 60, where she played Harriet Hayes), but Paula Marshall is stunning.

So why the redo? I know we remake classics: 90210 is the first that comes to mind, and I know Melrose Place is next on deck. But see, the original ones were…successful. This is a failed show.

What makes them think it’d be successful this time around? Why did Rob Thomas pitch it again? From what I can tell, there was a cult following behind it (in fact, message boards on IMDB still tell people to boycot ABC). I appreciate that maybe today is a better time to do a show, but to do the exact show? They could at least change character names and plot a little.

Plus, it’s got straight competition. The CW just started airing Valentine, which is about gods that take the image of people on Earth in order to help people find love.

This just flabbergasts me. But maybe there’s hope! Hurry, someone alert Joss Whedon. Pitch Firefly again–just this time, with different actors. Same plot. Same character names. Just different people. But go now, ABC’s spending its money fast.

[Note the sarcasm, Whedonites. You think I'd give up Jewel Staite time? Please.]

Six degrees of…Zac Efron?

The Jonas Brothers aren’t the only ones with the movie buzz. Zac Efron is movin’ on up. And killing the classics on the way.

Guess what Paramount Pictures now wants to remake: Footloose. That’s right. The Kevin Bacon classic will now be put on the big screen again for a new generation. And guess who they want as the new Kevin Bacon. That’s right. Zac Efron.

Now, I’m not 100% opposed to Zac Efron. I think he has a decent amount of talent as compared to some of the other stars of High School Musical (can anyone say Corbin Bleu?). I saw him in Hairspray and didn’t find him half bad, and to be honest, of all the HSM people to grow, I’d root for him. He did turn down the CD offers after all.

But to remake Footloose. It just seems…too soon and unnecessary. Why can’t we come up with new premises? And what is going to make this original from the original? I hear they’re signing on Kenny Ortega of HSM fame to direct as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t for sure yet, but Paramount sure is trying. I just don’t understand WHY we need to remake and why we can’t find new things to write, film, and create. It’s just like the new news that the CW is looking to do a new version of Melrose Place, probably in the same light as the new 90210.

Is this payback for the writers’ strike or is it just fallout? I’m hoping neither. I should be more excited that they’re falling onto remakes and not more reality television. But going back to the classics? Footloose? What’s next? Recreating the brat pack with Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, and the regulars from Wizards of Waverly Place?

The super-obnoxious life of the American teenager

So. As I said in my update post, people seem to be interested in this show, when, they shouldn’t be. And of course, the show I mean is The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I believe in my original review of the pilot, I said that I would continue to watch the show so that I could post another review…you know, see if anything has changed.

It. Didn’t.

Man, this was a horrible show, and I think I base the entire “hit” status of the show on the fact that it was summer and the only other shows on were reruns of Deal or No Deal. I’m going to be honest. I’d rather rewatch the 60th anniversary show of the Emmy’s than Secret Life any day of the week. At least the Emmy’s had good hair.

But first. Let’s recap. Here is the cast of characters:

Pregnant Teen, otherwise known as Amy: Actually, the only person in the show who had the capabilities to act beyond John Schneider and Molly Ringwald but of course, didn’t get any sort of opportunity. Her storylines were reasonable; her hair was atrocious. Someone attack her bangs with scissors.

Boyfriend of Pregnant Teen, otherwise known as Ben: Pathetic, formerly pathetic-yet-skeezy boyfriend to Amy who only started dating said girl because he wanted to get laid. Now he realized that all he wants is love and whines like a puppy the entire series. Awesome.

Religious Girl, otherwise known as Grace: Along with the originality of her name came an original character–a cardboard cutout that’s half cheerleader, half moronic angel. Grace is the only blond on the show, symbolically showing her innocence–or what we would call naivety. Not only is Grace, oh, such a good person, but she has one eensy storyline that drags through the entire season.

Knocker-upper, otherwise known as Ricky: The boy who knocked up Amy. Who sleeps with slut girl. And dates Amy’s best friend. And wants to sleep with Grace. But pretends to have feelings for Grace. But doesn’t. Or does he? Who knows? But he’s super obnoxious and no one likes him. Yet everyone does. Seriously, this is the depth around Ricky. Lots of people changing their minds–and clothes, after he uses them. But don’t worry. It’s not because he’s a bad guy…it’s all related to his past, according to his therapist.

Long-haired semi-religious boy, aka Brad from Home Improvement–I mean Jack!: This guy has the easiest role on the series. Seriously. He has the same lines that just cycle around and around over and over. He wants Grace, he wants slut. He’s apologetic, he’s mad! He doesn’t have to memorize much. (But seriously, while I know it’s not the same actor, is there a reason we’ve made this character look EXACTLY like Brad from Home Improvement, circa 1994?)

The slut, otherwise known as…wait–does she have a name?: She sleeps around and has issues with her parents. Hmmm, shouldn’t she be in college with that storyline?

Best friend number 1, the redhead: Ok, I don’t know her plot, but I know she’s annoying, so I tend to ignore her.

Best friend number 2, the non-redhead: Amy’s other best friend who’s not anymore because her parents won’t let her and has a nice brother. Oh, and she dates Ricky, because EVERYONE tends to date the person who knocked up your best friend. That always happens. Always.

Korean best friend number 1, the boy: Ben’s best friend who just talks through everything with him. EVERYTHING.

Korean best friend number 2, the girl: Actually sometimes has funny things to add, but isn’t in the show all the much to matter.

Parents: Oh, this is its own series, I swear. Move them over to the new 90210, will you? I think that show might need more drama.

Sadly, my descriptions don’t even include all the storylines that this show has in one season. I think they stuck the entire series of Dallas in a three-month show. All we need is a who-shot-JR moment. Maybe they’ll kill off Amy’s dad. He’s sufficiently annoying and one-dimensional. Nevermind, they can’t kill him off. He fits in too well.

Ok, enough of my cattiness. Let’s get to the root of the problem. That being, we have TOO MANY CHARACTERS! This happened with 7th Heaven, too. We got so many people involved in the show that there was no time to delve into any problems and no one cared about any of the characters anymore. Plus, if you try to focus on only one storyline with all these people, fans complain because others aren’t doing anything (which is funny since that’s true to life–people don’t ALWAYS have life-ending drama going on). Since we have to have everyone juggling crap, we’re using up all possible plotlines in three episodes and then we go to the outrageous! Just cut down some characters. Keep it down to, like, five, and make the rest recurring. Or just hire guest stars. Why does Grace have to only choose between Ricky and Brad from Home Improvement–I mean Jack. There are tons of other people at this school. Try one of them.

Hey, Best Friends 1 and 2 could follow this same strategy. Then, maybe it’d be realistic!

And why must EVERYONE be related? Amy’s Dad used to be married to Grace’s mom. Grace’s dad is partners with Amy’s doctor. Amy’s Dad is sleeping with slut’s mom. Oh, and Ben wants to marry Amy, and Ben’s dad is totally for it! And we all live happily ever after.

None of this is REALISTIC! Unless you’re in a tiny tiny tiny town, but even in those, divorce generally isn’t prominent, there wouldn’t be as many people at the school, and most likely, you’re living by yourself in your 400-acre farm in the middle of Montana: population 1. (Sorry, people from Montana. I don’t mean to insult you, just the show. After all, you are home to the white-footed ferret, and I love those little guys. :-) )

And no one talks that much about sex. I had the great opportunity to watch this show with people who had never seen it before. Every five minutes, they’d look up and go, is this all they talk about? It was the finale. Every scene someone mentioned sex. And not euphemisms. They actually mentioned the word “sex.” Maybe they can up the ante next season and say “sexual intercourse” every time they mention it.

Oy. Next season.

Anyway, I could write more, but I’d just get cattier. Just here’s what I think should be done if the show continues.

1. Fewer characters.

2. Fewer storylines–focus on only a few at a time…for the ENTIRE season, not every episode.

3. More realistic situations.

4. Get everyone disassociated with each other. They’re interconnected because they’re at the same school. Lose the other stuff.

5. Stop TALKING. Do something!

6. Change the theme song. (Sorry, I just hate the theme song.)