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October 25, 2014

6 Lamest Remakes of Great TV Shows

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 21st 2010 2:45PM
Ed O'Neill and Ethan Embrey on 'Dragnet'When networks get desperate for ratings, they look to one place -- the past. What worked before has to work again, right?

So, it's no surprise that the networks, both broadcast and cable, keep digging up TV's graveyard to reanimate undead shows and turn them into unholy creations that will eventually turn on their masters. One or two might break through the pack and become a menial hit, but the rest are doomed to become worm food once again.

All you have to do is look back at TV's extremely checkered past of "re-imagined" classics to know that trying to cash in on kitschy nostalgia can stick you with a whole lotta nothing.

These six attempts to bring back the dead, however, are below the bottom of the barrel, the lower of the lowest of the low, the best of the worst. That means they will never have a chance of being remade EVER AGAIN. (We can only hope.)

1. 'Dragnet' (2003)
Before Ed O'Neill re-discovered comic gold in the genius of 'Modern Family,' he had a less serious gig on ABC -- well, less serious or just as funny depending on who you ask.

'Law and Order' overlord Dick Wolf tried to bring Jack Webb's classic serialized cop drama back to the small screen with a more stylized but grounded Los Angeles remake. It wasn't a bad idea, really. Webb's original was an iconic and groundbreaking series that pays a serious homage to the men and women in blue by turning their real life work into gripping and interesting crime stories.

Unfortunately, it fell victim to needless tinkering, and ended up becoming a giant jumbled mesh of needless characters. TV executives are like meddling mothers -- no matter how good their children's hair actually looks, they still got lick their fingers and work it into a position that defies the laws of gravity.

2. 'The Twilight Zone' (2002)
Forrest Whitaker on 'The Twilight Zone'If TV shows could be measured in units of heinous crimes, then say hello to Slobodon Milosevic of the small screen.

UPN's horrid attempt to remake one of television's most beloved and revered shows didn't just have lousy ratings. It had lousy reviews, lousy stories and just plain lousy everything. This version attempted to replace just about everything that made the original series such a timeless classic. Rod Serling's iconic omnipresence as the curator of the weird and wonderful was replaced by Forrest Whittaker. Producers hired Jonathan Davis of the band Korn to remake the show's simple and perfect theme song into a deafening mesh of techno blech.

And if you think we're being too hard on a show that just tried to bring this series to a new generation, one episode let Jessica Simpson act in a major role. The prosecution rests, your honor.


3. 'Get Smart' (1995)
Don Adams and Barbara Feldon on Fox's 'Get Smart' remakeMost TV remakes fail to capture the charm or creativity of the original because they completely abandon the source material. But this mid-season replacement tried to draft off the original and it still failed.

Fox brought back the classic comedy spy spoof created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry with the show's original stars, Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. The new one picked up where the original left off, with Maxwell Smart bumbling his way to the top of the CONTROL food chain as chief.

Instead of letting Adams take the reins of the show that made him a television icon, his character hands off the secret agent work to his nerdy son played by Andy Dick. The whole series felt like a lukewarm, watered down rehash of the original, right down to the "sneaker phone" on the younger Smart's foot.

4. 'The Prisoner' (2009)
Ian McKellan and Jim Caviezal on AMC's 'The Prisoner'A remake of 'The Prisoner' seemed ripe for the times. The original series starring Patrick McGoohan implored its audience to disbelieve everything they saw and heard as our hero fell through the rabbit hole of an allegorical utopia that shifted and changed, sometimes right before our unbelieving eyes.

The new series starring Jim Caviezel as the tenacious "No. 6" tried to capture that same spirit of rebellious adventure, but it got so lost in itself that it was hard to believe that anyone could like the new "No. 6" or anyone else in "The Village" for that matter.

The great thing about the original British series was that it was set in a weird world that felt Fellini-esque and Python-esque, but it also never took itself so seriously. The remake had better production values, a bigger cast and an even bigger budget, so the sense of wonder and amusement became lost .


5. 'The Fugitive' (2000)
Tim Daly is 'The Fugitive'Remakes will be around as long as the world huddles around its television for reasons other than warmth. There are, however, some signs that you're scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel and "remaking something that's been remade" is at the top of the list.

CBS hoped to ride the ratings train by hitching their car to not only the original TV show, but the hit big screen version starring Harrison Ford.

Of course, everyone and their mother knows the plot, characters and motivations of 'The Fugitive,' so the mystery and action were completely missing.

It didn't try to reinvent the wheel that made the original 'Fugitive' or the movie so enjoyable. It practically cloned it. So instead of getting a gripping action series, we got a warped image that felt like a photocopy of a photocopy.

6. Every 'Fawlty Towers' Remake Ever
JoBeth Williams and John Laroquette in 'Payne'Television would never have been the same without the 12 genius episodes of Great Britain's undisputed king of television comedies. It found inventive and creative ways to make situation comedies actually funny, without backing away from touchier subjects like race and sex.

It's no wonder that almost every production company in the world has tried to bring a version of John Cleese and Connie Booth's vision to their homeland, including the U.S. -- with all attempts failing miserably.

The first version starred Harvey Korman and Betty White, but it never made it past the pilot stage. ABC took a crack at it with 'Amanda's' starring Bea Arthur in the Basil Fawlty role, but the audiences didn't laugh enough and the network booted it after a single season.

Then CBS tried their hand at a remake with 'Payne' with John Larroquette in the title role, but the show copied the show's plots and not the characters. So, it also went the way of so many other sub-par shows before it. The networks finally learned that you can't top something as perfect as 'Fawlty Towers' until, of course, the next 251 times they attempt to remake it.


Which remakes of classic TV shows did you find the most offensive?

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John F.C. Taylor

There hasn't been any television series that was/is as good as the original. For one reason or another, tinkering with the concept in even minor ways made the remakes less attractive than the original.

October 28 2010 at 12:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim

Patrick McGoohan was in Secret Agent (Danger Man in England), not I Spy. Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were in I Spy.

October 28 2010 at 8:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lane

That's 80 show should be one htere

October 28 2010 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Neil Slevin

I remember seeing one episode of some kind of remake -- in name only, mind you -- of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", circa 1993. It was about a vampire who made his living as a rock star, a concept good for one album, I guess. It would have been bad enough on its own, but to put the great Hitchcock's name on it was a terrible insult to him, for it had absolutely none of the suspense or surprises, not to mention the quality of writing, that made him one of the most esteemed directors of his day. Oh yeah, and he only did two horror films, "Psycho" and "The Birds". He mainly directed suspense dramas, such as almost all the episodes of his one-hour TV show.

October 28 2010 at 4:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Head

Any show that has Scott Caan with more than one line should be scrapped before a producer or director even see's it!

October 26 2010 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NC

I usually have mixed feelings when I hear they're remaking a TV classic. Of course, they have to be 'updated', replacing familiar names with new faces (macho guys) and put in new ones (kick butt babes). Then they wonder why they don't work. Not even the original stars (Don Adams, Lucille Ball) could recreate the classic feeling so how do they think they can do it with new ones. Hawaii 5-0 would have been better (in my mind) if the main character had been Steve Garrett's son and then had a whole new cast..but they couldn't resist getting "DANNO" in there, could they? Well, at least they almost got the theme song right. Just wise up, writers, and don't keep trying. Leave us our memories.

October 23 2010 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

How about Munsters Today and 1998's Addamms Family?

October 23 2010 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anne D

Taking the key elements from a highly successful show and using them in another can work quite nicely. But, using the original show's title is a huge mistake. Too many viewers still remember the original shows and the original actors. Raymond Burr WAS Perry Mason, Tom Selleck WAS Magnum. I call "Leverage" "The "A" Team Meets the Millenium" and I call "White Collar" "It STILL Takes a Thief". Great shows, too.
It all comes down to...you can make Gramma's well-loved apple pie for the family and they'll think it's delicious... just don't tell them it's Gramma's or they'll be disappointed.

October 23 2010 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anne D's comment
Neil Slevin

Dear Anne D,

I'd have voted "plus" for your blog twice if I could.

October 28 2010 at 4:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Shields

I thought UPN's Twilight Zone series was bad, but the CBS remake, a few years before, was even worse. Bad enough the producers were remaking some classic episodes, but the newer episodes? UGH!
And the Battlestar Galactic remake? Wow! Just what the public wanted another Babylon Five.
The Outer Limits remake was so boring. The episodes were trying so hard for the twist ending; the ending was seen miles away after the first ten minutes.
Family Affair was even worse.

October 23 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RussDRocker

The worst remake ever is Bewitched. It was dreadful!!
Russ

October 23 2010 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RussDRocker's comment
mynameis

One thing; Bewitched was remade as a movie in 2000. It was never remade as a series, or attempted series. Beside's, the entire original cast has died.

October 23 2010 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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