For five weeks running, the Season 10 “Roseanne” reboot has been a ratings winner for ABC, and its knockout success has television executives peering into the cupboard trying to figure out what old network faithful to dust off next.
In the current political climate, sitcoms seem to be a form of narrative comfort food for audiences, with the ratings success of reboots like “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne” indicating viewers are nostalgic for a time before the nastiness of reality TV dominated network schedules.
With 13 episodes on order, “Murphy Brown” remains one of the most highly anticipated reboots of 2018, with star Candice Bergman and creator Diane English revisiting the series that was so topical it raised the criticism of Vice President Dan Quayle at the time, leaving a strong cultural legacy.
Other fan favorites currently rumored to be in development include a revival of “Mad About You,” staring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser, with Hunt openly discussing the revival during a recent appearance on “The Ellen Show.”
“We’re talking about how to make it and not wreck it, because we’re proud of what we did,” she told DeGeneres.
Wrecking – and un-wrecking – seems to be a key concern for most shows returning to the small screen. “Roseanne” has chosen to simply ignore the original shambolic Season 9 finale that saw Dan die; “Will & Grace” chose to make their finale storyline all a bad dream — both shows ended up poking fun at their own narrative flip-floppery. Viewers, thrilled with the return of their TV favorites, willfully ignored the gaps in plot.
Other shows, like the four-episode Netflix special “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” offered fans a chance to temper the ills of a horror final season (Luke’s random daughter, anyone?) and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino a chance to air those final magic words she teased for years. However, while those four words were worth waiting for, the show unintentionally exposed just how woefully unlikeable one of its key characters really was.
There’s no doubt that fan loyalty drove Netflix’s “Gilmore Girls” revival, but it wasn’t the first show Netflix breathed new life into: in 2013, cult classic “Arrested Development” was one of the best all-cast returns; a new season is promised for later in 2018.
But fans can be fickle and not all revivals find success; “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “Lost in Space” have had lukewarm responses, and even with original cast members Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny returning, “The X-Files” hasn’t performed as well as hoped.
While some reboots flounder, rumors about revivals continue to flourish: Vin Diesel is an executive producer on a potential “Miami Vice” remake, a new “Charmed” pilot has been shot in Vancouver, and there are even hopeful whispers about fan favorites like “The Office” and “The West Wing” coming back in some form. The only certainty? It’s really only a matter of when, not if, your favorite high-rating shows will be back.