Great TV shows have the power to rest in our hearts and souls for decades after their endings. The iconic line deliveries we loved from childhood pop up at random and bring up vivid memories of specific plot lines and laughs with family members. The nostalgia for bygone times radiates from classic programs of yesteryear. This fondness for old shows has created an environment where producers and writers seemingly are trying to reboot every old franchise known to man. If it feels like there’s more old content than new stuff these days, it’s probably more than just your intuition. We’re here to help you wade through the doldrums of the reboot carousel and find the remakes, spin-offs, and retreads that are actually worth your time when streaming.
Police dramas have always littered network television, but Hawaii Five-O gave audiences a twist on the typical cop fare back in the 1970s. Its modern flair back in the day made it a perfect candidate for revival on CBS at the turn of the 2010s. The reboot was a success, lasting for a decade in an era that has long moved away from traditional TV into the streaming era. The cinematography is also even better than before, with pristine location shots and beautiful up-close vistas of Hawaii to set the tone.
When Roseanne premiered in the 1980s, the family sitcom was edgy and fun. It depicted the struggles and triumphs of a lower-middle-class family, something that was quite contrary to the typical comedy in which finances weren’t a factor for the protagonists. The show was rebooted on ABC in October of 2018 but was quickly canceled after star Roseanne Barr made racist remarks online. The showrunners fired Barr and reworked the show into The Connors, thereby letting the other very likable cast members carry the torch. John Goodman especially has been able to take advantage of Barr’s void, and the chemistry between the whole cast remains the same as it was four decades ago.
The alchemy of the original That ’70s Show cast was something unique. The show kickstarted the careers of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace, who play teens from Point Place, Wisconsin. They just had something special about them, whether they were talking about underwear or smoking a joint in the basement. The revival of the Fox sitcom, That ’90s Show, gives glimpses of the original characters, but it’s the sincerity of the new kids introduced that allows this reboot to be comforting and watchable. Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith, who played parents Red and Kitty Foreman in the original series, reprise their roles here in every episode, and they don’t miss a beat.
The original Karate Kid films are beloved for their coming-0f-age innocence and iconic line delivery. The continuation of this universe has been a complete success with Cobra Kai. Originally airing on YouTube before Netflix got the rights to the third season, the series is proof of social media and modern TV viewing methods being the ultimate initiator of success in the 2020s.
This legendary sci-fi hit has become so acclaimed that many casual fans are unaware that it was originally a series in the late 1970s. The 2004 reboot improved upon the original series with more up-to-date special effects, immersive acting, and gorgeous set pieces. Science fiction is a genre that really needs the help of current technology to advance its themes, and it’s inspiring to see TV show reboots actually do things the original series couldn’t.
Dexter gets a little lost in the shuffle when discussing the best cable dramas of the late 2000s. Competing with the likes of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, the serial killer thriller was a masterclass in long-form storytelling and acting by its lead, Michael C. Hall. The final seasons faltered in quality, leading to this reboot that serves as somewhat of a mulligan for the first series’ mistakes. It’s certainly not perfect, but fans enjoyed this second act for the most part in late 2021.
Full House wasn’t exactly a strongly written show, but it certainly resonated with families all over the world in the 1980s and 1990s. It was the type of feel-good, sappy sitcom that made you feel optimistic about life. The reboot, Fuller House, isn’t any better written, but it takes the original tone of the first series and delivers it to an entirely new audience decades later. The timeless quality of the Tanner family certainly seems to have a hold on America.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air not only launched the career of Will Smith, but it also brought a fresh energy to the tired sitcom tropes of the 1990s. This reboot decided to reinvent the wheel yet again, going in a more dramatic direction than the original series. This is a daring decision that many other shows should consider when bringing characters and stories back to the screen all these years later.
A complaint about older family shows like the original Wonder Years is that they take a white, middle-class family and act as if this perspective on American life is a universal one. The reboot of The Wonder Years gives a Black perspective to 1960s America, and it’s been a refreshing show to say the least. The charm of Fred Savage from the original show is certainly missing at times, though.
Samurai Jack wasn’t exactly rebooted, but it certainly felt that way when the fifth season came out more than a decade after the fourth one in 2017. The conclusion to this incredible children’s cartoon darkened the tone and catered to an audience that was now much more mature and ready for heavy themes. The updated animation style was also breathtaking to watch on a weekly basis.
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