20 TV Reboots That Never Should Have Happened

Fans of the ’80s classic Dirty Dancing may not have the time of their lives when they tune in to the ABC remake, which premieres May 24 at 8 p.m. Featuring Little Miss Sunshine’s now-grown-up star Abigail Breslin and dancer Colt Prattes in roles made iconic by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, the new film has largely failed to wow critics, suggesting that this was one property that didn’t need to be rebooted. That puts Dirty Dancing in good (bad) company: Recent TV history is littered with reboots and remakes that took a widely liked hit and turned it into a bad movie or series. Scroll through the above slideshow for examples of 20 reboots that never should have happened, and then do your best to go on acting like they never existed.

Dirty Dancing premieres Wednesday, May 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

‘90210’

Beverly Hills, 90210, that Fox classic that aired from 1990 to 2000, starred Jason Priestley and Luke Perry. 90210 did not. Sure, original series cast members Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling were among a handful of stars from the original that appeared on the do-over for a couple of seasons, but ask yourself — as producers of 90210 should have — what is the fun of having Brenda and Kelly without Brandon and Dylan there to continue their dysfunctional quadrangle? — Kimberly Potts

(Photo: Scott Humbert/The CW)

‘Bionic Woman’

This reboot had a lot of promise but was doomed from the start by a casting mistake. Michelle Ryan, while a fine actress, was too bland and colorless for the title role, and she was overshadowed by guest star Katee Sackhoff as an earlier bionic woman. And a disruption in the show’s schedule due to the writers’ strike meant that the show didn’t have a chance to tinker with the formula. — Kelly Woo

(Photo: Alan Zenuk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

‘Charlie’s Angels’ (ABC)

They really should have left this franchise alone after the first movie. Even the sequel faltered; why would anyone think a brand-new TV version would work? Almost everyone was miscast, but the trouble started with the premise and tone of the series. A gritty, dark Charlie’s Angels that takes itself too seriously? No thanks. Without the campy fun of the original, a line like “We’re not cops, we’re Angels” just sounds like a joke. — KW

(Photo: Matt Dunn/ABC via Getty Images)

‘Coupling’

Desperate to find a replacement Friends (as that monster sitcom was nearing the end of its momentous run), NBC headed across the pond for ideas and decided to Americanize a still-airing Brit hit, Coupling, a sexually charged series about dating and mating among a group of six best friends, acquaintances, and exes. Unlike most adaptations, this one just reused the title and the original scripts by Steven Moffat (Dr. Who, Sherlock). The heavily hyped show failed from go. Three actors, including Melissa George and Breckin Meyer, were recast from the original pilot. The finalized sextet had stilted delivery and minimal chemistry, which was clearly important for a plot all about having been in or wanting to get in everyone else’s pants. Or maybe it was a lost-in-translation situation, as scripts had to be shortened to meet U.S. TV advertising needs, and our culture and primetime network standards surrounding this topic are generally a bit more puritanical. Moffet blamed the disaster on ceaseless network meddling. Whatever the reason, in the end, only four of the 13 episodes commissioned saw screen time. — Carrie Bell

(Photo: NBC)

‘Cupid’

The original 1998 Cupid, from Veronica Mars, iZombie, and Party Down creator Rob Thomas, was a delightful, clever, romantic dramedy about a man, Trevor Hale (played to perfection by Jeremy Piven), who might have been the titular god of love, or might have been a mental patient who thought he was Cupid. In either case, the canceled-too-soon series became and remains a cult favorite. The 2009 remake did star Sarah Paulson, which is a big thumbs-up, but redo star Bobby Cannavale lacked Piven’s charm (a key ingredient in the original), and the seven episodes that aired before the remake’s cancellation were at least six too many. — KP

(Photo: Amazon Video/ABC)

‘Dragnet’

Just the facts: You can’t have Dragnet without Jack Webb. The actor created the Dragnet franchise for his long-running radio show, and then went on to play Sgt. Joe Friday for a 1950s TV spinoff of the L.A. detective procedural that ran for eight seasons. In 1967, Webb relaunched the show for another four seasons, this time with pal Harry Morgan as his wingman, Officer Bill Gannon. Webb died in 1982, and that should have been the end of the franchise. Two short-lived reboots, The New Dragnet (1982) and L.A. Dragnet (2003), never measured up to the original. In a casting move that should have been against the law, Ed O’Neill played Joe Friday in the latter incarnation, which was canceled before all of the second season’s episodes made it to air. — Victoria Leigh Miller

(Photo: Scott Humbert/ABC Via Getty Images)

‘Flash Gordon’

In the wake of its successful Battlestar Galactica relaunch — a case study in how to do a reboot right — Syfy (then still known as Sci-Fi) tried to resurrect an even older sci-fi property: Flash Gordon, the intergalactic adventurer who previously headlined comic strips, cartoons, and a widely loved/mocked feature film. Rather than embrace the character’s earnest cheesiness, though, the series tried to give Flash a 21st-century dash of cool and, in the process, turned him into a big-league jerk. — Ethan Alter

(Photo: Jeff Weddell / Reunion Pictures / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

‘The Fugitive’

CBS’s attempt to reboot The Fugitive is most famous for being the show that lost out to CSI in the ratings race. The Fugitive, starring Tim Daly as on-the-run doctor Richard Kimble, premiered on the same night as CSI, and the network assumed that it would be their big fall hit. Instead, the forensic procedural became an out-of-nowhere sensation, launching CBS’s most powerful franchise. The Fugitive, meanwhile, soon went missing from its primetime lineup. — EA

(Photo: CBS)

‘Gracepoint’

When debating redo regret, Gracepoint, a Fox reimagining of Broadchurch, the dark and moody child murder mystery/cop and media drama imported from Britain, is a special and much rarer case in that the second version wasn’t horrible so much as thoroughly unnecessary. For one, GP was overseen by the original creator, Chris Chibnall, who started with a brilliant idea and has a knack for writing layered, complicated humans. Both editions were headlined by David Tennant, who, if we are being honest, could entertain us with phonebook dictation. The U.S. series also starred top notch talent like Anna Gunn (fresh off her Breaking Bad Emmys), Michael Peña, and Oscar nominees Jacki Weaver and Nick Nolte. The real problem was that the original was so damned good that people should have just watched it; and if you had watched Broadchurch, despite the new shock ending, Gracepoint just felt like sloppy seconds. Perhaps if they had put a bit more time in between them, GP would not have made this list. — CB

(Photo: Fox via Getty Images)

‘Ironside’

We love us some Blair Underwood, who can usually transform even the lamest series into something watchable. But this completely uninteresting, clichéd remake of the Raymond Burr 1967–1975 original drama about a police detective who ends up wheelchair-bound after getting shot on the job was beyond saving, especially with its reliance on writing Robert Ironside as a jerk to show that he was just like everybody who wasn’t in a wheelchair. Underwood, the original concept, and certainly viewers deserved better. — KP

(Photo: Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

‘Knight Rider’

It was a simple premise: a man, his talking supercar, bad guys to catch, wrongs to right. Yet when the original ’80s series was on, the entire family was mesmerized. In the days before Siri or GPS, an object holding a conversation with you was the stuff of dreams, as was lead David Hasselhoff for a good portion of the population. (Back then, he was known more for his bedroom eyes, deeply unbuttoned collars, and curly mullet than drunk-dining on floor hamburgers.) The remake exchanged the rogue vigilante feel that really worked in the Reagan era for generic computer-age global espionage à la Bourne and gave its Michael (Justin Bruening) a gender-balanced team (seemed forced) and an exotic supervixen who might just as soon sleep with him as kill him à la Bond. And surprisingly, for as good-looking as Bruening was, he lacked the Hoff’s charisma. But the real problem was the new K.I.T.T. Val Kilmer’s auto voice was far too serious and chiding. In the pilot, when his partner needs saving from imminent death by thug, K.I.T.T. chooses that moment to tell our hero that he might be faster to rescue if he ate better and cut back on drinking and sexcapades. And given that the audience was at least four Fast & Furious movies deep when the show debuted, the bar had been impossibly raised on a TV budget for car chases and stunts. Coincidentally, one of that franchise’s directors, Justin Lin, is rebooting the series once again, and rumor has it they are even dusting off the original man in a black leather for another spin. Only time will tell if this installment rides or dies. — CB

(Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank)

‘Love Boat: The Next Wave’

The original 1970s-’80s version of ABC’s celebrity-studded romp gave us nine seasons, four primetime specials, and a TV movie set on the Pacific Princess. But the 1998 UPN reboot, set on the Sun Princess and helmed by Robert Urich, was enough to make us seasick. Love Boat alums Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Bernie Kopell (Dr. Adam “Doc” Bricker), Ted Lange (bartender Isaac Washington), Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing), and Lauren Tewes (Julie McCoy) appeared in a reunion-themed episode in an attempt to give this show their seal of approval, but all it did was remind us that this ship had sailed. — VLM

(Photo: Aaron Spelling Prod. / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

‘Melrose Place’

Remember the 1992–1999 Fox original, in which, in one of the greatest guilty-pleasure TV shocks ever, Kimberly whipped that wig off her head to reveal her brain surgery scar? Nothing that happened on the remake, not even the eventual guest appearance of original series villainess Amanda (Heather Locklear), came close to being as deliciously dramatic, or even interesting, as Kimberly’s wig flip. — KP

(Photo: The CW)

‘The Muppets’

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and the like became beloved icons for their gentle, good-hearted, goofy humor. And then this primetime reboot tried too hard to make the content more mature, with salacious jokes and sexual references. Miss Piggy should not be “porking” Nathan Fillion, just ew… no. And everyone became so mean and beaten down! We should root for Kermit and team to succeed, not watch as they sullenly trudge through a soul-crushing work life. — KW

(Photo: ABC)

‘The Odd Couple’

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? That’s our stance on the remake of the classic 1970s sitcom based on Neil Simon’s famed play. The original starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, and the actors became synonymous with the roles of the polar-opposite roomies even though the big-screen movie came first. A short-lived early-’80s reboot, The New Odd Couple, featured African-American actors Ron Glass and Demond Wilson in the starring roles, but it ran for less than half a season. Still, 40 years after the original Odd Couple signed off, CBS once again rebooted the sitcom, with Thomas Lennon and Matthew Perry as a modern-day Felix and Oscar, making it the seventh screen production based on the 1965 play. Overkill much? The show was canceled after 38 episodes that spanned over three short seasons. — VLM

(Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again’

Sure, you can make a cult classic, but remaking a cult classic is just asking for trouble. That’s what Fox discovered when they unwisely tried to update Richard O’Brien’s 1975 movie musical. While Laverne Cox threw herself into the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the rest of the cast lacked any of the energy and enthusiasm generated at the midnight screenings that are still selling out around the world. Those feature better costumes, too. — EA

(Photo: Steve Wilkie/FOX)

‘Skins’

File this under the genre “British shows that did not need an American version.” The U.K. Skins dazzled audiences with its no-holds-barred look at teen life. MTV’s version basically made a frame-by-frame remake… but with many holds barred, such as no profanity. But what made the original Skins shine was not the sex and drug use, but the characters. And MTV’s actors just did not have the charisma that made us fall in love with the original Tony, Effy, Sid, and Cassie. — KW

(Photo: MTV)

‘The Twilight Zone’

The original incarnation of this sci-fi/suspense anthology series aired for five freaky seasons on CBS, leaving us forever scarred by Talky Tina and that scary-ass hitchhiker. Two reboots later, we’re convinced that there was no need to toy with the black-and-white original, narrated by Rod Serling. A mid-1980s revival didn’t feature an on-camera narrator, and it spawned not-needed remakes of four episodes from the original series, this time with such stars as Helen Mirren, Richard Mulligan, and Esai Morales in the main roles. A subsequent 2002 reboot, hosted by Forest Whitaker, was worse — it lasted only one season. Even the return of Billy Mumy, who reprised his role as demonic adult Anthony in a follow-up to the memorable 1961 episode “It’s a Good Life,” couldn’t save this show. But hey, at least we got to see Jason Alexander as Death. — VLM

(Photo: UPN)

‘Uncle Buck’

Maybe ABC should have known better. Back in the early ’90s, while the popular 1989 John Hughes movie that inspired it was still fresh in family comedy lovers’ minds, CBS attempted and failed to re-create the magic of the story about a layabout uncle with bad habits and no child-rearing experience who is charged with babysitting his brother’s three kids. Kevin Meaney was no John Candy, and those new child actors were no Macaulay Culkin. By 2014, when ABC was back in the Buck business, Hughes and Candy were not alive to be consulted, and this time it was their families who expressed displeasure about the rehash. Their big idea was to make them black. Mike Epps was a deft decision for the titular role, as he has expertly handled manchildren, buffoons, and good-for-nothings for most of his career, but the jokes were played out, such as when a stripper taught the young daughter to twerk or when Epps questioned another child, “Why are you hitting me? You not the police.” Plus, the most interesting dynamic on the show, the frictional one between Buck and his skeptical sister-in-law (Nia Long), was basically resolved by the end of the pilot. — CB
(Photo: Michael Ansell/ABC via Getty Images)

‘V’

ABC tried to do right by its redo of the ’80s-era alien invasion sensation, filling out the cast with established fan favorites like Firefly’s Morena Baccarin and Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell, and investing in impressive special effects. But uneven storytelling and a lack of focus kept the series from ever realizing its true potential. For now, at least, the V franchise has gone back to its home planet, but don’t be surprised if it attempts to invade again. — EA
(Photo: Marcel Williams/ABC via Getty Images)

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