Even though the 2019 fall television schedule is pretty much set for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and The CW, networks are always looking to recapture past glory of their biggest hits or give a misunderstood cult classic a second chance. Here are five shows that we here at Bleeding Cool think deserve another look: Quantum Leap, The Greatest American Hero, Night Court, Mission: Impossible, and Alien Nation.
Remember, networks: there’s always midseason and summer schedules to consider:
Created by Donald P. Bellisario, the series is about Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), who travels through time within his own life to rewrite the wrongs of history – jumping from body to body. Guiding him on his journey is Al (Dean Stockwell), who can track Sam’s whereabouts from the future and appears as to him as a hologram to inform him of the purpose of his latest leap. Aside from consistently altering the space-time continuum where nothing is really affected in Sam and Al’s time, the ripple effect from the changes appear to be minimal.
The original run of Quantum Leap on NBC was for five seasons, from 1989 – 1993. One of the greatest appeals for the show – aside from living an actor’s dream to be anybody and live their lives – is the empathy the show infused through its characters. I argue the series was as socially relevant as Star Trek given the diverse stories told during some serious uncertain times of the American 20th century.
You can either reboot or create a sequel series since the original conclusion to Quantum Leap had the tragic epilogue of Sam never leaping home. The sequel series/revival can see a new main protagonist leaper who tries to carry on Sam’s legacy while hoping to find him and bring him home. The new protagonist should be a POC and/or a woman mainly because it would offer a more unique perspective and experience. There are many topics in contemporary times that should be revisited – and a reboot/revival could help put these events in some focused context.
“The Greatest American Hero”
Created by Stephen J. Cannell, the concept of the show involved a public school substitute teacher Ralph Hinkley (William Katt) who is bestowed a superhero suit by extraterrestrial beings that deemed him worthy of such responsibility. Unfortunately, Ralph loses the instructions left behind by the aliens and discovers first-hand what the suit can do.
With an arrangement from the aliens, attorney Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca) and FBI special agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) agree to help Ralph on missions while he figures out how the suit works. The original series ran on ABC for three seasons, from 1981-1983.
There was a remake set in the works with Hannah Simone cast in the lead, but ABC declined to pick up the series in 2018. With ABC’s expansion with FOX, their stake in Hulu, and their parent company’s streaming service in Disney+, the opportunity would be too good to pass up to try again. Sure the odds are stacked against the series succeeding given the sheer number of live-action superhero comedies in play (and not all survive, aka The Tick), but since audiences never seem to tire of superheroes, someone will and should take a chance. We could easily have Katt play Culp’s role in keeping within the spirit of the original series.
Created by Reinhold Weege, the NBC sitcom ran for nine seasons and followed the night shift of a Manhattan municipal court. The series starred Harry Anderson as Judge Harold T. Stone, an unorthodox judge, amateur magician and the court’s heart and soul. Others who were in the cast throughout the show’s duration include John Larroquette as the lecherous district attorney Dan Fielding and Richard Moll as the towering, but loveable bailiff Bull Shannon. While there were numerous supporting cast like Markie Post, Charles Robinson, and Marsha Warfield, the show’s primary focus was on Anderson, Larroquette, and Moll.
What made the show memorable is the colorful personalities, recurring characters and absurd cases. It also made the show timeless as many of these caricatures – from the main characters to the one-note comedic clients – made the show work and gave it a bit of comedic “timelessness” over the course of its run.
The rival/reboot wouldn’t even need to remain in New York. Florida would be a perfect setting, not simply because the author lives there, but as two dedicated Twitter accounts @FloridaMan_ and @_Flor1daWoman show us be following local headlines of the depraved and the absurd. Florida is the “hold my beer” state when you think things can’t get any weirder.
The cases on public record practically write the episodes themselves, and serve as an endless goldmine for comedy – making it an ideal setting. You can make the argument that neither Dan nor Al Bundy from Married with Children would work in today’s societal climate due to their over-the-top “masculine personalities,” but those who followed the shows know how soon they both get their comeuppance for their behavior – and begin to evolve from it.
Created by Bruce Gellar, the action-spy TV series ran for seven seasons (1968-1975) on CBS and briefly revived by ABC for two seasons (1988-1990). The interest in the franchise is still clearly there given the success of the six films starring Tom Cruise, with two more underway planned for 2021 and 2022 releases.
It’s mind boggling how they haven’t expanded the world of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). While the films saw the succession from Jim Phelps (Peter Graves in the TV series, Jon Voight in 1996 film) to Ethan Hunt (Cruise), it’s not far-fetched to see a separate IMF team doing missions or redoing the Phelp’s missions with a new cast.
The appeal of the spy genre never went away, with the multitude of franchises running on small and large screens: James Bond films, Alias, Nikita, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, 24, etc. Even television’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was remade into a (forgettable) feature film.
In light of the news that Disney has suspended production on FOX’s remake of the 1988 sci-fi film Alien Nation a la Variety, perhaps they should consider a reboot as a television series instead.
Granted, the 1989 TV show was spawned from the 1988 film but a large percentage of the franchise’s fanbase find themselves more invested into the characters on TV. It’s been over three decades since the original film and fandom today tends to have more fickle tastes: less likely to appreciate an Alien Nation reboot film than a TV series.
Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Alien Nation deals with the cohabitants of humans and “Newcomers”. The central characters are detectives Matthew Sikes (James Caan in the 1988 film, Gary Graham in the 1989 series) and “Newcomer” George Francisco (Mandy Patinkin in film, Eric Pierpoint in TV series).
While the narrative between the contentious relations between humans and aliens have long been a sci-fi staple, it seems the stories that touch on typical themes of xenophobia, culture and empathy are needed now more than ever given current tensions involving not only immigration but the overall divides that exist in our society.
So there you have it, networks: Quantum Leap, The Greatest American Hero, Night Court, Mission: Impossible, and Alien Nation. Let’s get production rolling…