The Best and Worst TV Reboots to Have Hit the Small Screen

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards
Kevin Spacey in House of Cards

The Best

House of Cards

The gripping Netflix production introduced a new generation to the murky underworld of politics.

Moving from the original’s British political system to the USA’s version was a shrewd move.

The rise of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is every bit as engrossing as Francis Urquhart’s move up the political ranks in Westminster.

The series is also brilliantly brought up to date in terms of its portrayal of the 21st century 24-hour media machine.

The Outer Limits

The Outer Limits Television Stills
Actor Enrico Colantoni, left, performs in the television series “The Outer Limits.” (Photo Courtesy of The Sci Fi Channel/Getty Images)

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission…”

What an opening introduction that was!

The little brother to The Twilight Zone and The X-Files was originally a hit in the mid-1960s, running for two series.

The science fiction series featured self-contained stories of the supernatural and earned an enthusiastic cult following.

Among its fanbase was horror author Stephen King who reportedly described it as “the best program of its type ever to run on network TV”.

The original ran into trouble when its time slot competed with more popular mainstream productions and only lasted two series.

The series reboot fared better – surviving from 1995 until 2002.

But like its original series, competition meant it never reached the heights it deserved, losing out to The X-Files in the ratings wars.

However, it still goes down in history as a very successful reboot.

Doctor Who

Perhaps the greatest reboot of them all.

Doctor Who was transformed from boxes of robots and men in sleeping bags for killer worms, into the slick 21st century production it has become.

Updates in technology and a massively increased popularity have transformed the sci-fi show into prime time viewing and a must-see on Christmas Day.

The series went out with a whimper in 1989 and suffered a 16-year hiatus before being rocket-propelled back on to our screens in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston at the helm.

With Billy Piper at his side as his assistant, The Doctor was reborn, and shows no sign of slowing down.

After one series with Eccleston at the helm of the Tardis, David Tennant took over to become the most popular Doctor of all time.

Matt Smith followed in the famous role before Peter Capaldi took over the show in 2013.

The Daleks and Cybermen have been joined by the equally scary Weeping Angels and The Silence, adding to the already impressive history of the show.

That’s how you do a reboot!

Battlestar Galactica

Probably the most underrated TV show on this list.

Battlestar Galactica showed the pitfalls of keeping a TV series’ name rather than becoming an original.

The name itself conjures up memories of the cheesy original from the 1960s.

It was criticised for being based on the Cold War relationship between USA and USSR, as well as being attacked legally for having a likeness to Star Wars.

Originally the series was a ratings success for its time, but its audience waned after the first few series and it was cancelled.

However, the reboot is nothing short of a sci-fi masterpiece.

The society surviving against the murderous Cylons is nothing short of a work of art.

And the twist that there are only six Cylons and they look like humans, meant that until all six were revealed, ANYONE could be a robot and not know it.

Absolute genius.

Obviously many of these themes emanate from the original, but the reboot was far darker, the delivery was much sharper, and the whole series was just better.

So if you’ve kept away because of its title, it’s worth taking another look.

 

Thunderbirds

Earlier this year we heard for the first time in decades: “Thunderbirds Are Go!”

The return of the most popular of puppet rescue patrol returned to our screens.

The reboot didn’t look likely to work as critics asked – who is this actually aimed at?

But the first episode was widely praised by fans (although it didn’t hit the mark for everyone nostalgically!)

Most of the original cast have all returned (being puppets there’s not a lot of casting issues to contend with), with Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon, Alan, Brains, Lady Penelope and Parker, Grandma

Tracy, and The Hood all making appearances.

Time will tell whether this reboot lasts the test of time, but it’s made a good start and has been lined up for two further series in 2015 and 2016.

The Twilight Zone

So good they brought it back twice!

The series that inspired so many others, The Twilight Zone was first aired in 1959 and spanned five years.

The series was similar to The Outer Limits in many ways, with self-contained episodes of mystery and supernatural goings-on.

However, the series entered mainstream collective consciousness in a way The Outer Limits could only dream of, after the series’ success led to a feature film, radio show, and magazine.

For many years, something strange happening would be followed reliably with the question: “Have we just entered The Twilight Zone?”

The series was brought back from the dead in the 1980s, which failed the rekindle the previous hype, and only ran from 1985 to 1989.

A certain crisp company also got in on the act with their marketing campaign – The Twiglet Zone.

The series was once again produced in the early 2000s, with narration from Forest Whitaker.

However, it only ran for one series and never really got off the ground.

There were definitely enough successful stand-alone episodes for the show’s reboot to be justified, but overall it was the original that was most widely loved.

Dallas

“Who Shot JR?” was the question of a generation and showed Dallas at the very height of its popularity.

The reboot was never going to reach those dizzy heights of hysteria, but it gave ti a good shot!

The series brought back several stars of the original series, along with a number of new characters starring as the children and relatives of the original cast.

Dallas’ rebooted survived three series – a mere babe compared to its original which lasted for a mammoth 14 seasons.

And that’s probably a suitable ratio for describing how popular the two incarnations were.

Nice try, but no cigar.

 

The Worst

Charlie’s Angels

When a reboot only lasts a season, it’s not a good sign.

When that first series is chopped down to four episodes, it’s a total disaster.

That was the fate of the return of Charlie’s Angels in 2011.

The success of the 2000 hit film spin-off was largely down to excellent casting.

Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, teaming up with Bill Murray was a stroke of genius.

The failure of the 2011 project was levelled by some critics at the casting of key roles.

Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor clearly didn’t cut the mustard.

 

Knight Rider

Val Kilmer as KITT?

And no David Hasselhoff?

The original was a perfect 1980s hit with car chases, gun fights, and a talking car.

But by 2008, everything Knight Rider had to offer looked dated.

The updated series’ central character is Mike Traceur, the son of Michael Knight (Hasselhoff).

He later changes his name to Mike Knight, but the magic of the original is just not there.

 

ThunderCats

ThunderCats was an iconic cartoon for 1980s kids, with a great story-line and even better theme tune.

But the 2011 attempt at a reboot really fell wide of the mark.

It was an example of when nostalgia does not make a hit.

Young fathers across the land may have tried to rekindle their own love of the show with their offspring, but it didn’t work.

The series may have aimed at a new audience, but they weren’t interested, and it bombed.

Despite initially being planned for over 50 shows, the series got cancelled after one season.

 

• Got a favourite TV show reboot that we’ve missed? Tell us about it.

 

 

 

 

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