10 other famous TV reboots as Netflix’s Lost in Space takes off
- Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Netflix hopes Lost in Space will be TV's next great sci-fi series. But will the reboot live up to the hype? We take a look at 10 other TV reboots from Life on Mars to Top Gear, Doctor Who to Robot Wars to separate the wheat from the chaff
Will Friday the 13th prove to be a lucky date for Netflix? We imagine the streaming giant has its fingers crossed (there's an image) that its latest original series Lost in Space will prove to be a lucky reboot.
If, like myself shortly before writing this, you don't have a clue what Lost in Space is, let me explain. The show was a science-fiction TV series that originally aired in 1965 and was devised by Irwin Allen, Hollywood's 'Master of Disaster' after he'd conjured up the likes of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno.
Initially, Allen saw the series as a science-fiction version of the Swiss Family Robinson, before the focus shifted more so onto the youngest member of the Robinson family, Will.
There was adventure, cliffhanger endings, a robot and the villainous, and somewhat comic, Dr Smith: the show also featured one of the most bewildering episodes in television history which featured a talking carrot. Yes: a talking carrot.
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Despite gaining a following and enjoying reasonable success – talking carrots excluded – Lost in Space was cancelled in 1968. Fast forward five decades (let's gloss over the 1998 film) and Netflix has given the space-age show a 21st century makeover, setting it 30 years in the future but retaining a homage to the past.
Lost in Space (2018) continues to follows the Robinson family as they leave earth to discover a planet capable of sustaining human life. However – as the title suggests – things do not exactly go according to plan: a pesky rip in space-time sees the Robinsons crash land on a mystery planet along with other families, forcing them to get to grips with this new environment and find a way home. But hidden dangers are lurking in space…
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Although wildly popular in Hollywood – Spider-Man is on its third reboot, after all – not all reboots are able to deliver. Some prove a hit, plenty of others sink without a trace. So what makes a great reboot? With a metric tonne of remakes available to watch, let's take a look at some of the small screen's reboot hits and misses.
TV reboots – from the sublime to the ridiculous
1) Doctor Who: The titular Time Lord and his time travelling Police Box spaceship had been off our screens since 1989 with attempts to bring it back, including one 1996 TV movie, falling at the first hurdle.In 2005, however, Russell T Davies brought the show back to the small screen. Christopher Eccleston starred as The Doctor, along with Billie Piper as his companion, Rose. The 21st century revival has proven wildly popular, becoming a mainstay in the BBC's Saturday schedules and is set to break new ground as a woman, Broadchurch's fantastic Jodie Whittaker, takes the role of the Doctor for the first time. HIT
2) Bionic Woman: The Bionic Woman achieved worldwide popularity when airing in the 70s – especially in the UK. It followed Jaime Sommers who had been rebuilt bionically after a sky diving accident, handing her superhuman powers, taking on secret government missions. Fast forward to 2007, Eastenders' Michelle Ryan was cast in the lead role of Jaime, who was now almost killed in a card accident before gaining those special android abilities. Yet, combine a largely negative reception with low ratings and all the bionic repairs in the world could not save the series from being axed after just eight episodes. MISS
3) Love Island: Twelve single celebrities spending five weeks on an island of love in Fiji came to our screens in 2005 and, truth be told, didn't bother the TV schedules for long. However, ITV gave Love Island a revival 10 years later – swapping the celebrities for members of the public, delivering the Kem-Chris bromance and rap track, Little Bit Leave It. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I was a devout watcher of the third series which snapped up a Royal Television Award for Entertainment. Why is watching every day people bicker, argue and have 'relations' on national TV essential viewing? I have no idea but Love Island seems to have cracked the formula. HIT
4) Charlie's Angels: With over 100 episodes in the bank, the original Charlie's Angels – running from 1976 to 1981 – proved rather popular as it followed three crime-fighting heroines in a private detective agency in LA. The same could not be said for its 2011 reboot which was swamped with negative reviews and cancelled after its fourth episode. Burn. MISS
5) Battlestar Galactica: In Battlestar Galactica we have a reboot that, by all accounts, is regarded in certain quarters as better than the original. Human civilisation has branched out and inhabited a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. Throw in a war and those aboard the titular ship go out in search of the thirteenth colony, a mythical planet you may well have heard of – Earth. The original cancellation in 1979 outraged viewers and even sparked protests. The 2004 makeover which concluded in 2009 earned critical acclaim and widespread praise for the themes it explored. At the very least, it was worth the wait. HIT
6) Life on Mars (American version): I doubt many people will have seen this one and considering how it ended, I urge you to spare yourself. Anyway, if you were unaware, a marvellous series aired on the BBC back in 2006: John Simm was Sam Tyler, a police detective hit by a car who finds himself back in 1973. Is he mad? In a coma? Or back in time? It was a masterful mystery with a greatly satisfying ending after two series when we discover that Sam was in fact in a coma. Struggling to get to grips with modern day life, Sam opts to jump off a building to go and live back in his 1970s dreams. The Americans decided to reboot the series, but rather than follow the lead of its British counterpart, the American Life on Mars decided that neither Sam's life in the 70s or the present day were real. They were both virtual reality. Instead, Sam was among those on a spacecraft on a mission to Mars. That's one way to distinguish yourself from the original, I suppose. MISS
7) Homeland: The long-running spy thriller follows bipolar CIA officer, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). If you were unaware, Homeland is a reimagining of the Israeli series, Prisoners of War. The American revamp has proven a raging success – especially during its opening two series featuring Damian Lewis' Nicholas Brody – and has been led throughout by a fantastic performance from Danes. It's still going strong to this day with its seventh series currently airing. The eighth is envisaged as being the last by series bosses. HIT
8) Robot Wars: This show – which aired from 1998 to 2004 – was a prominent feature of my childhood so you can imagine that I was positively giddy when it was announced it would return in 2016. Craig Charles and Phillipa Forrester – my first crush – were swapped for Dara O'Briain and Angela Scanlon. A new format came as well as a greater exploration of the nuts and bolts of the robotic elements, while the robot smashing was as good as ever. Despite this, the series was scrapped this year. Does that make it a good reboot, or a bad one? JURY'S OUT
9) The Office (American version): As they've done on several occasions – Broadchurch, The Inbetweeners, Skins, the aforementioned Life on Mars – the Americans set about rebooting a much-loved British series. In this case, it was The Office and following its opening series, views were mixed. Yet, featuring the likes of Steve Carrell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Jenna Fischer and more, started flourishing from its second series onwards, growing in popularity and acclaim. It launched careers. Some call it a cultural institution. This reboot 'blew up'. In short, it fared rather well and there's even been talk of a revival. HIT
10) Top Gear: Top Gear was a reboot of a 1977 original of the same name. Featuring the funny and often outrageous trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, Top Gear quickly became one of the BBC's most successful programmes. It was brought down to earth with a bump in 2015 when Clarkson was suspended for a meat-related incident. Eventually, Clarkson, Hammond and May were all out. Chris Evans and Friends' Matt LeBlanc, along with others, then took the steering wheel and did kind of the same thing as Clarkson and Co without the steak fury or high viewing figures. The show hasn't really managed to capture the magic brought by the old trio – though the new team has stayed mostly clear of controversy.
Regardless, it is perhaps one instance where another reboot may have been the wiser call.