Lights, Camera, Action… Again!

November 15, 2020

Rebooting TV shows has been an old phenomenon, but only a few stand out and are worthy of recall.


Sequels are to films what reboots are to television, and both are equally tricky to handle. A lot of TV shows have been rebooted over the years in an attempt to rehash them for a new audience but while reboots of classic action-adventure shows, such as Knight Rider, Kojak, and The Bionic Woman couldn’t make an impact, there have been a few who have become as big as the original, if not bigger.

Let’s take a look at some iconic shows and their reboots; these are shows that reigned supreme back in the day and still stand out due to their X factor.

Hawaii Five-O

(Original run 1968-80,
Reboot 2010-20)

Hawaii Five-O ended earlier this year after completing its ten-year run on TV and is still valid for discussion for many reasons. First, it was one of the most successful reboots of a highly successful TV show; the original show featuring Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett was the first cop show that completed its 12 seasons, whereas the reboot featuring Alex O’Loughlin in the same role lasted for as many as 10.

Interestingly, both versions had a similar plotline and featured characters with the same name, but had slightly different titles; the original had number 0 in its title, whereas the reboot had the alphabet O. Both shows were completely based in Hawaii and had Wo Fat as the main antagonist; while the original was more of a police procedural, the reboot also had elements of action, drama and comedy added to the script. The original aired at a time when there were more adventure shows than police procedurals and was a standalone series, the latter one exists in the same universe as Magnum P.I. and MacGyver, two more reboots that are discussed below.

S.W.A.T.

(Original run 1975-76,
Reboot 2017-Current)

Deemed too violent when it was aired in the mid-70s, S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics) went onto become a cult classic despite lasting less than 40 episodes in two seasons. It was made into a full-length feature film featuring Samuel L Jackson and Colin Farrell in 2003 and was rebooted nearly four decades after the show’s original run, with far better results. The names of the characters remained the same, the storyline was altered and the action was updated. With the new series entering its fourth season, things look bright in the S.W.A.T. universe, where action speaks louder than words. Literally!

Magnum P.I.

(Original run 1980-88,
Reboot 2018-Current)

The image of an athletic Tom Selleck driving a red Ferrari and sporting a Hawaiian shirt is stuck in the minds of all those who grew up in Pakistan during the 1990s. With the help of his influential friends, he solved cases that sound weird at first, and by the time they were through, they had been shot, run over, and even abducted in a few instances. The new version, which came 30 years after the original ended, did educate the audience on how Magnum became infatuated with the Hawaiian shirt, but he still depended on his friends for his detective work. Both the Magnums (Jay Hernandez is the new one) lived at Robin’s Nest and were responsible for its security. While the original version featured (late) John Hillerman as Robin Masters’ majordomo John Higgins, the reboot has Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins. They both are British with a military background and have trained the two Dobermans to keep Magnum in check, but still help him when he asks for it. The world-famous author Robin Masters still doesn’t appear onscreen.

MacGyver

(Original run 1985-92,
Reboot 2016-Current)

The original MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) hated guns, worked alone in the field and was able to escape from impossible situations using his wits, ingenuity and readily available items. The new ‘Mac’ (Lucas Till) looks way too young, works with a team, and has been known to operate firearms in the field, a fact that makes him everything but MacGyver.

A few things common in both versions was MacGyver’s ability to create anything from everyday items and the return of international assassin and master of disguise Murdoc. The original MacGyver was loved by everyone who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s, when the show was aired on TV and his ‘MacGyverisms’ became part of pop culture. The reboot now enters its fifth season and it seems that will help in adding some new terminologies in MacGyverisms.

The Flash

(Original run 1990-91,
Reboot 2014-Current)

Although The Flash lasted just one season when it was aired for the first time in 1990, it achieved cult status because of John Wesley Shipp’s performance as Barry Allen and the special effects that made The Flash look the part. When the show was rebooted as part of the Arrowverse more than 30 years later, Shipp was back as Barry Allen’s father and after his character was killed, he took over as another speedster Jay Garrick, Henry’s Earth-3 doppelganger. The new Flash (Grant Gustin) has a different storyline than John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen had, yet the plots are more inspired by comics now than ever before. The new series, entering its seventh season, wowed fans of the Scarlet Speedster by using some of the characters from the original series such as Amanda Pays (Barry Allen’s original partner Tina McGee), Alex Desert (Barry Allen’s buddy Julio Mendez) and even Mark Hamill (The Trickster) who had an equally important part in both the versions.

Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]

Lights, Camera, Action… Again!