There are some classic TV shows that are were so well done the first time around and so memorable that they just shouldn’t be messed with at all.
Yes, The Twilight Zone is being rebooted, and yes, it’s one of the picks on my list of classic TV shows that they shouldn’t ever reboot.
1. ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
Much of the success of this series was because of the genuineness of its characters, something many of the cast members credit solely to Griffith himself. With him no longer with us, there’s no way to truly duplicate the magic of Mayberry, North Carolina. One other thing that made the show unique: though it was set in contemporary times — the 1960s — there was something so innocent and anti-tech about the show, complete with the candlestick phones and telephone operator Sara, that it always had a feel as if it were really a throwback to 1920s small-town America.
2. ‘The Twilight Zone’
In my post about the ‘Zone’ reboot, I suggested that with a title like that, there’s an automatic expectation of quality that would be very difficult to duplicate. In other words, odds are we’re going to be disappointed.
3. ‘I Love Lucy’
Who could possibly measure up to Lucille Ball? Sure, one could argue that Fran Dressher tried with The Nanny, but that show was nowhere near as good as Lucy’s.
4. ‘All in the Family’
The cast was magic in this show, but it honestly should have ended with Meathead and Gloria left the show. Still, there’s something unique about this show: the writing was so spot on in terms of its social commentary disguised as satire that there’s little reason to reboot it: watching an episode today is still so enjoyable because the topics being discussed nearly 50 years ago are still so relevant.
M*A*S*H had two key things going for it: in addition to exceptional writing, it had the Vietnam War. Yes, the sitcom itself was set one war earlier: during the Korean conflict. But it was obviously intented, at least in part, as a commentary vehicle on Vietnam. The cast, combined with that writing, took you through plotlines that would literally leave you laughing one minute and wiping tears from your eyes the next. And because it was set during a specific period in history, it’s timeless to a point: it works in the 2010s as well as it did in the 1970s because it was depicting the 1950s.
6. ‘Sanford and Son’
There’s probably a good chance that Sanford and Son couldn’t be remade now because it might be viewed as being a negative portrayal of an African-American family. But when it was first on the air, Norman Lear’s adaptation of the British Steptoe and Son was one of only a few shows featuring black lead characters. As such, it played an important role in television. On top of that, you’re not likely to find another performer quite like Redd Foxx.
I never really watched Cheers, but you don’t have to have been a fan of the show to realize that the ensemble cast was key to the quirky fun of this show.
Here’s another show I never watched. I didn’t care for it, to be honest. Even so, I recognize that this little show about “nothing in particular” was a unique animal in TV that happened to arrive on the scene at just the right time. I don’t think even the same cast of actors, if you could wrangle them all back together, could come up with the same success now that they had then.
No one could be Lt. Columbo besides Peter Falk. I like the concept of revealing “whodunit” and then making a plot around how the detective will figure out what we already know…but instead of a reboot, just do the same thing with a new character.
10. ‘The Cosby Show’
With all of the sexual assault allegations against Cosby, there’s a good chance no one would touch a Cosby reboot, anyway. It’s a shame that the legacy of the show itself, which did so much to positively portray African-American families, has been tainted by the scandal.
That’s my list of shows I wish they’d leave alone.