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Oct 7, 2020

In TV and Movies, Should We Boot Reboots or Give Nostalgia a Second Chance?

One of the funniest entertainment moments from this past year came from “tell it like it is” comedian Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes Awards. He said: “Seriously, most films are awful. Lazy. Remakes. Sequels. I’ve heard a rumor there might be a sequel to Sophie’s Choice … I mean that would just be Meryl Streep going, ‘Well, it’s got to be this one, then.’”

Ha ha. He has a point. I’m willing to give reboots a chance, though.

When films were a nascent art form in the early 20th Century, it took a bit of time for good storytelling to catch up with the medium. When sequels began in the 1970s, and in more volume by the '80s, it was a new wrinkle that took time to master.

People don’t remember there was a sequel to Chinatown, but they may cherish the Christopher Nolan Batmans that were better than anything previous and, I predict, anything that may follow. The same with reboots. It’s a new approach to storytelling. Give it some time.

With the exception of the later seasons of Fuller House, I’ve yet to see a TV reboot executed well. See a previous blog here. The gist is that nostalgia drives the temptation for showrunners and their loyal audience to return to something familiar, forgetting the characters age, and time and place change.

It’s the difference between when I used to catch up with high-school friends and rehash old times over a meal. For the friendship to grow beyond living in the past, we mutually discovered we needed to go out and do something in creating new memories. We now attend professional sporting events with the money we didn’t have as teenagers.

I have a hunch the recently announced revival of Frasier stands the best chance for success amidst the reboot craze. Dr. Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, first appeared in season three of the widely popular Cheers series.

The original show featured crude barflies living vicariously through the womanizing bartender Sam Malone. Crane transferred his character’s refined intellectualism into one of the most popular spin-offs of all time.

Grammer talked about a third city for the reboot. After Boston and Seattle, the most obvious choice should be London (spoiler alert).

The finale of Frasier saw Frasier’s brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) marry Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), the English therapist for the Crane father (played by the late John Mahoney). Perhaps Daphne’s working-class background will put Niles, forever smitten with her, at new political odds with his brother in a post-Brexit Britain.

The main conflict for a third act wouldn’t have to be political; I only use it as example that show would at least have to be different in major way.

Frasier began most shows with the characters stimulated for a day’s work with espresso, whereas Cheers characters wound down every evening with mind-numbing round after round of beer. Frasier 2 would be wise to orbit the drink of choice around something different. Mid-afternoon tea, anyone?

Image: Adobe Stock

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