At a time of total overproduction of new series, which are often immediately cancelled after poor ratings for the first season, the real mainstay of streaming services are frequently reboots of old productions, capable of attracting a sizable audience with a strong fondness for the old titles. Occasionally, we are also dealing with series that were just expecting a successful update, leading to some of the best TV reboots.
TV series reboots are continuously being boiled down to the well-known among cinema and television viewers, often strongly contemptuous saying about cutting coupons from past popularity, and this is indeed most often the case. Therefore, in the following list you will find productions that in a bizarre way use old characters or well-known motifs from old series, without actually contributing anything of their own. However, on the other hand, occasionally we have to deal with titles, which almost beg for modernization or simply a bigger budget, bringing out their latent potential.
In particular, this applies to fantasy works, and also those set in a very specific historical era. Only rarely does the latest installment equal or even surpass the fame of the original, but when it does, the series goes down in American television history. Here we have selected ten of the most famous TV series reboots, ones that are not always successful series, but are usually, for one reason or another, very interesting.
What Is a TV Reboot?
A TV series reboot is a new version of a previously aired TV series. A reboot typically features a new cast, new storylines, and a modernized setting, while still retaining some elements of the original series. Reboots are often produced as a way to bring a classic series back to the attention of a new audience, or to update the series for a contemporary setting. Reboots can take the form of a sequel, a prequel, or a complete reimagining of the original series.
10- Perry Mason
Quite successful, on the other hand, was HBO’s revival of the character of the famous private detective, already famous to American viewers from the late 1950s and early 1960s through the series with Raymond Burr in the title role. The next decade also saw Mason played by Monte Markham, and later several TV movies were also made.
The new version of the character is played by Matthew Rhys, who was previously known mainly for his excellent “The Americans.” While “Perry Mason” was originally developed with a mini-series in mind, it has been known for quite some time that we will see a second season. This one proved to be one of the best TV reboots of recent times.
The original Perry Mason was a legal drama television series that aired from 1957 to 1966. The show follows the titular character, Perry Mason, a defense attorney in Los Angeles, California, as he represents clients in a variety of legal cases. The series is known for its complex plot twists and courtroom drama, as well as its iconic characters and memorable performances by its cast, including Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and Barbara Hale as his faithful secretary, Della Street. The original Perry Mason series was highly popular and has since become a classic of the legal drama genre.
9- Hawaii Five-O
The first episode of the series premiered on CBS television in 1968, and it lasted twelve years in its then form, garnering viewers as many as 281 episodes. For several decades, by the way, it remained the longest-running crime series on television, since it was only surpassed by “Law & Order” in 2002. Filmed in Honolulu, the production itself was a typical police procedural, recounting the struggles of officers against local crime.
Having the rights to it, the TV station revived the title in 2010, for the time being it has not managed to beat their numbers, as it has so far made up 240 episodes. The developers couldn’t deny using many of the original’s trademarks in it, including its most famous quote: “Book’em, Danno.”
The new Hawaii Five-O, being one of the best TV reboots of its time, is a police procedural television series that premiered on CBS in 2010. Like the original series, the reboot follows an elite police task force in Hawaii as they investigate and solve crimes on the island. The show features a mix of action, drama, and crime solving. The reboot was popular and ran for 10 seasons, with the final episode airing in 2020. The series starred Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, the leader of the Five-O task force, and Scott Caan as Danny Williams, his second-in-command.
The legendary “Kojak” was broadcast on American NBC television from 1973 to 1978 (not including a rather unsuccessful return with a short miniseries in 1989); and lived to see five seasons, which consisted of as many as 118 episodes. Obviously, the star of the series was Telly Savalas, who played the title role: a New York City police detective, who solves the most difficult criminal cases with a characteristic lollipop in his mouth.
Passed away in 1994, the actor revisited his memorable role in two TV movies back in the 1980s. On the other hand, in 2005, a new TV series was launched under this title, with Ving Rhames playing the role of the inspector, and starring Chazz Palminteri and Roselyn Sanchez, among others, alongside him. The series, however, was not very popular and was canceled after the first season aired.
7- Kung Fu
The 1972 original series is nowadays considered mainly in terms of the participation of Bruce Lee, who, according to the testimony of his widow Linda Lee Cadwell, invented the formula for the production and was to star in it. However, the title “The Warrior” was soon renamed “Kung Fu,” and the character of the traveling monk Kwan Chang Caine was played by David Carradine, who fit in here at best moderately.
Nevertheless, if the 2021 reboot of the series was supposed to do justice to the work’s Asian roots, it sadly succeeded at best on average. After all, the series wasn’t very popular, and it didn’t receive high ratings from critics either, despite praise for its fight choreography. You can watch it today on HBO MAX.
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6- Battlestar Galactica
Having premiered in 1978, “Battlestar Galactica,” which was created by Glen A. Larson, was immensely popular at the turn of the decade. Already in the 21st century, the theme was revived by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, who chose to strongly revive the series with a slightly different approach to certain themes. That revival proved to be an even bigger success compared to the original one and entered the history of American television for good, becoming one of the leading representatives of the science fiction war sub-genre.
The revived Battlestar Galactica, being one of the best TV reboots is a military science fiction television series that aired from 2004 to 2009. The show follows a group of humans who are on the run from the Cylons, a race of robotic beings who have destroyed their home planet and are now attempting to wipe out the remaining humans. The series is known for its complex characters, intense action, and thought-provoking themes, and it has been praised for its portrayal of difficult moral issues.
5- Lost in Space
For its part, Netflix is due for a quite successful reboot of the CBS series from 1965-1968, which is among quite a large group of works that sooner or later had to receive a definite facelift and actually it turned out to be one of the best TV reboots. For the story of the Robinson family, which lands on an unknown planet somewhere in outer space, is perfectly suitable for a high-budget and impressive production, which was obviously accomplished.
Naturally, the latest installment of “Lost in Space” is very much a family series, so a curtain of silence should be drawn on some of the plot simplifications and infantilizations, and instead we enjoy a quite successful series for the whole family.
The original Lost in Space is a science fiction television series that aired from 1965 to 1968. The show follows the adventures of the Robinson family, who are stranded in outer space after their spaceship is sabotaged and sent off course. The series follows the family as they try to find their way back to Earth while also trying to survive on a hostile alien planet. The show is known for its special effects, campy humor, and iconic characters, such as the Robot and Doctor Zachary Smith.
V is a science fiction television series that aired from 1983 to 1985. The show follows the arrival of an alien race called the Visitors, who claim to come in peace but are actually planning to take over Earth. The series follows a group of human rebels who try to stop the Visitors and uncover their true intentions.
The show is known for its suspenseful plot, special effects, and social commentary. There were two seasons of the original V series, and it has since inspired a number of adaptations and remakes, including a miniseries that aired in 2009 and a sequel series that aired in 2011. Recounting the story of the invasion of rat aliens in the 1980s, the series of the 1980s had a strong hold on the young viewers’ imagination at the time, and by the end of the first decade of the 21st century a new version was already being thought of.
Among others, Elizabeth Mitchell, famous from the series “Lost”, was involved in it, as well as Morena Baccarin, who played the alien representative here. The series, unfortunately, was not very popular and was discontinued after two seasons, without giving its fans any meaningful conclusion to the many storylines that had previously appeared. However, it remains as one of the best TV reboots of its time.
Also finding its supporters was a new installment of the classic “MacGyver,” which had its premiere on CBS in 2016 and made it to five seasons, but failed to top the seven seasons of the original. Its producers dropped all attempts to justify the younger hero’s presence on screen, and simply cast Lucas Till in the role and made a complete reboot, which some assessed as a disrespectful product of the original, while others cranked up their following of subsequent episodes.
Approaches to the Angus MacGyver character, by the way, were several; in 2021, the first season of “MacGruber,” which was based on a series of Saturday Night Live skits parodying just Richard Dean Anderson’s most famous role, was released.
The original MacGyver was an action-adventure television series that aired from 1985 to 1992. The show follows the adventures of the titular character, Angus MacGyver, who works as a secret agent for the fictional Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles. MacGyver is known for his resourcefulness and his ability to solve problems using only his intelligence and the materials he has on hand. The series is known for its creative use of science and technology, as well as its action and suspense. The show was popular during its original run and has since become a cult classic.
2- The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone is a science fiction anthology television series that aired from 1959 to 1964. The show is known for its thought-provoking storylines, twist endings, and socially conscious themes. Each episode of the series features a different story, often with a supernatural or science fiction twist, and the show is famous for its memorable characters and acting performances.
The original Twilight Zone series was highly influential and has been widely praised for its creativity and storytelling. It has since become a cult classic and has inspired numerous adaptations, including a revival series that aired in the 1980s and a new revival that has been airing on CBS All Access since 2019.
As one of the most famous horror series that has been the basis of many current horror filmmakers, it has received a contemporary reboot through the efforts of directors such as Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg and Marco Ramirez. Up to now, it has lived to see two seasons and 20 episodes, which have featured many well-known actors. The new series, for obvious reasons, has no chance of being as powerful as its original; rather, it is a homage to a work that has shaped the imagination of many people around the world.
And to finish off this best TV reboots list, there is the revival of the famous “Walker, Texas Ranger”. Walker, Texas Ranger is a action-crime television series that aired from 1993 to 2001. The show follows the adventures of Cordell Walker, a Texas Ranger and martial artist, as he fights crime and solves cases in the Dallas area. The series is known for its action-packed scenes, complex characters, and moral themes. The show was popular during its original run and has since become a cult classic. It starred Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker and Clarence Gilyard Jr. as his partner, James Trivette.
Taking on the challenge of tackling the legend of the series from the last decade of the 20th century, which featured one of its most important roles played by Chuck Norris, The CW television network undertook the task of airing three seasons of the adventures of young Cordell Walker, played here by Jared Padalecki.
The creators dropped many important elements of the original, such as karate fights, instead opting here mainly for a family drama with a dash of action cinema. However, against almost intuitive doubts, it had to appeal to viewers, as evidenced not only by the three seasons of the series, but also the prequel to it premiered a while ago: “Walker Independence.”
What do you think about all these titles we have mentioned in our list of best TV reboots? Do you have any other titles in your mind that deserve a place in this list? In that case, please let us know about them in the comments section below.