Let’s face it folks, Hollywood is out of ideas. Many a vitriolic blog post has been written that laments the movie industry’s inability to come up with anything new. And sure, that’s a valid standpoint for people who like their art unique and challenging. However, a new breed of filmmaker has begun to sneak in glimpses of originality by reviving the titles they love with a fresh, new twist. These people are working within the system to inject their own new ideas into well-established brands. Thanks to the efforts of folks like Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams, the word “reboot” isn’t necessarily a sign of a blatant nostalgic cash grab. So, with that in mind, let’s steer into the reboot fever and think of some old science fiction properties that could really benefit from a dose of modern-day TV.
1. Quantum Leap
In 1989, goody two-shoes everyman Dr. Sam Beckett, was caught in a terrible accident that doomed him to leap randomly from body to body within the span of his own lifetime (aka, the mid-fifties through the late seventies). It was always best when he was a chick. Each week, he’d be plunked into the shoes of a random person of every color and creed, to help put right some random event that once screwed up someone’s life. The good-natured doctor was helped along by Al, a dude from Sam’s present who appears and provides background information, and the odds on success or failure. The largely rotating cast and unique timelines gave Sam the opportunity to go on a potentially infinite series of adventures, that could tackle any number of topics. A solid writing staff and two good leads, and this series could go on forever.
2. Lost in Space
In a reboot, you’d have to make the thing a little bit more grim and a little bit more funny, but transplanting a family dynamic into an adventure scenario is never a bad idea (assuming you forget the movie adaptation ever happened). There’s the possibility for some good lessons for the kids, a little romance as a diversion, and a whole lot of action to keep people satisfied. Work on stories that focused on the character interaction and low stakes adventure, and you wouldn’t even need a huge budget to pull this one off correctly.
Rebooting Farscape is a must if only to give Jim Henson Studios a chance to flex their weird, creative muscles. When it aired in 1999, John Crichton’s journey to a bizarre alien-filled side of the galaxy, was immediately noteworthy for its whip smart dialogue and incredibly awesome array of creatures and locations. If you could get a Netflix or an HBO (aka, someone with a massive budget), Farscape could be an opportunity to create a weekly visual feast that have no end to the surprises.
4. Seaquest DSV
In the early 21st century, mankind has finally gotten around to truly exploring the vast depths of the oceans, so it needs to get patrolled on a regular basis. Enter the Seaquest, a wicked sweet submarine commanded by none other than Roy Scheider himself (looks like he finally got a bigger boat). The Star Trek-style emphasis on exploration and peaceful interaction would still work today, and the bottom of the Earth’s oceans is an equally intriguing premise, as the vast reaches of space.
5. Flash Gordon
In Flash Gordon, a super famous football player is transported to an alien world where he saves the babe and battles Ming the Merciless. The concept was originally dreamed up by Alex Raymond all the way back in 1934 . . . which is to say that it could definitely use a bit of a revamp. Make Ming a little less blatantly racist (he can still be merciless, but maybe consider a name change), make the local residents a little more rambunctious, and add a little bit more depth to Flash Gordon beyond the whole “blonde Superman” deal, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty sweet ongoing war on an alien planet.
6. The Spirit
Okay, let’s forget about Frank Miller’s disastrous adaptation (and why shouldn’t we, most everyone else has). In 1940, Will Eisner concocted The Spirit, a former cop who goes into hiding and wages a one-man war on crime after being presumed murdered. He’s got none of Batman’s gadgets and none of Superman’s powers, but he does have one spanking trench coat and a keen steely demeanor. Looking for a weekly noir show, or an action series that’s allowed to go tongue-in-cheek or play with eccentricity and The Spirit would be the show for you.
Westworld proved that high-minded science fiction isn’t a nasty concept to fans, so the class warfare (and kicking robots) in Metropolis, might be the perfect fodder for a series reimagining. Can you imagine more timely series conceits than blending lower-class rage with prophesy and grungy violence? It’d be pretty hard to outright top Fritz Lang’s original sci-fi masterpiece obviously, but a deeper exploration of what made Metropolis so intriguing could bring the title to a new breed of avid consumers.
This one is probably the longest shot on this list, because Joss Whedon has way better things to do these days than revisit his cult classic series which saw a band of lovable misfits travel around the outskirts of the galaxy, trying to make a living. Adeptly blending western, Asian, and science fiction imagery, Whedon created a brand new frontier that was taken far too soon. Though it got 13 episodes and a movie, there are still a lot of Firefly fans out there who wouldn’t mind another go on the good ship Serenity.
9. They Live
John Carpenter’s alien invasion actioner, is unique in that it begins after the aliens have already invaded and won. The catch is that humanity doesn’t know it. Instead, these aliens have moved into our cities and slowly crept into the highest levels of power, keeping humanity subdued and unaware through a constant stream of subliminal messages and mind-numbing entertainment. Unlike most of these other shows, this one would also do extremely well with an update to modern times. Toss in an old school swaggering Roddy Piper/Keith David style macho man in the lead and you could be looking at a really good time.
10. Galaxy Quest
With the way that society has been completely drenched in science fiction imagery and tropes these days, more people than ever before can enjoy a kooky spooky send up to science fiction, as seen through the eyes of a bunch of jaded actors. It wouldn’t need to be original, only funny. Just gather a bunch of talented, nerdy writers, and there’d be no end to the jokes that could be generated in the context of a shoddy little show within a show, or a series of fish out of water adventures, and depending on when you set the series . . . maybe both.
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