The Light from the TV Shows: “We’re Back, Baby” – Attempts at Reviving Old TV Series

Tonight marks the return of “Dallas” to the airwaves, with TNT offering viewers a look at the latest generation of Ewings while also giving original cast members Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray an opportunity to get in on the fun. For what it’s worth, I quite enjoyed the pilot, but I’ll freely admit that the only reason that I was interested in revisiting Southfork Ranch in 2012 was because of those original cast members.

No matter how brilliantly or badly they turn out, I’ve always been a sucker for TV series revivals, be it as a “next generation” sort of series like this one or as a reunion movie, so I thought I’d throw together a list of some of my favorites for your reading enjoyment. The only caveats: I’m not counting occasions when a series jumped to the big screen, i.e. the not-very-good theatrical “Get Smart” movie, “The Nude Bomb,” nor am I including animated series in the mix…although if I did, you can bet the animated “Star Trek” series would be at the top of my list.

Okay, let’s roll…

90210 (2008-present)

When The CW first kicked off its return to West Beverly High School, the burning questions from virtually every TV critic who covered the series involved which of the original cast members would be returning. In the end, Jennie Garth (Kelly), Shannen Doherty (Brenda), Tori Spelling (Donna), Ann Gillespie (Jackie Taylor, Kelly’s mom), and Joe E. Tata (Nat, the proprietor of the Peach Pit) all ended up making it back to the familiar zip code for an episode or two, generally proving to be the most entertaining parts of those particular episodes. Since the show’s gone all new-school, though, I can’t be bothered to keep up with it.

Homicide: The Movie (2000)

This feels like a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t so much a revival of an old series as it was an attempt to wrap up plot threads that had been left dangling when “Homicide: Life on the Street” departed the airwaves the year before. With that said, however, it still technically falls within the realm of a reunion film, and it’s one of the best ones you’re likely to find, so that’s why it’s here.

Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees (1997)

I always thought that the concept of this film, which posited that the Monkees continued to live together even after their series was cancelled, was an extremely clever one. I just wish the band’s reunion album, Justus, had been even half as enjoyable.

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The Light from the TV Shows: Shannen Doherty & Kurt Iswarienko – A Match Made in Reality-Show Heaven

Despite its title and its subject matter, “Shannen Says” – the new WEtv reality series in which Shannen Doherty plans her latest and, God willing, last wedding – isn’t just about Shannen Doherty. It’s also about her husband-to-be, photographer Kurt Iswarienko, who, to hear the couple tell it, earns as much focus on the show as his blushing bride. Granted, they may have been feeding me a bit of what I wanted to hear, since I began our encounter at the TCA Press Tour with the explanation that Bullz-Eye is very much a guy’s site, but they certainly spun their story well, ’cause I bought it. Or maybe I was somewhat swayed by having had a slight crush on Ms. Doherty since we were both in our teens. Either way, the conversation went swimmingly, and in addition to discussing their TV endeavor, I also got a bit of insight into Iswarienko’s photography, and by the end of it all, it was all “Wilford Brimley” this and “Jennie Garth” that, like we were old pals. Good times…

Bullz-Eye: Kurt, most guys have a tendency to view weddings as more of a means to an end rather than something to really get excited about, so I can’t imagine what it took to get you involved in a show that focuses on every single aspect of the wedding process.

Kurt Iswarienko: I agree with you that most guys probably share that sentiment. [Laughs.] The cool thing is that I didn’t have to deal with planning the wedding at all, because my job was to plan the honeymoon. And Shannen did the planning of the wedding. So it wasn’t any kind of hassle or nightmare at all to go into.

BE: Shannen, I’ve read the press release for the show, and this is obviously something that you’ve been looking forward to for quite some time, the definitive dream wedding.

Shannen Doherty: Yeah. Uh… [Long pause.] Yeah. [Laughs.] I’m not quite sure how to… [Another long pause.] Yes, since we’ve been engaged, we’ve sort of talked about, “Okay, we’re doing to do a wedding, we’re going to do it right,” and definitely this is. But I’m also not that girl who, from the time I was six, dreamed about having this fantasy dream wedding, or that I just had had had to get married.

BE: So how early did David Tutera come into the mix? Was he always going to be a part of it?

SD: You know, I think… [Hesitates.] He probably came into the mix pre-production, when, y’know, you’re sort of talking about the show and the wedding, and I had said to my executive at the time, “I think I’m going to hire a wedding coordinator, just because I need one, but also because while I’m working I need someone to take my vision and make it happen.” And then the network said, “Well, how about David?” And I said, “Uh, duh!” [Laughs.] “Great!” So he came on pretty much in pre-production, I guess. Pretty early on.

KI: That, and we spent a whole Sunday watching…

SD: …a “My Fair Wedding” marathon. [Laughs.]

KI: …a “My Fair Wedding” marathon. We both got sucked into it somehow, and we were, like, “Of course he’s the guy!”

BE: How has he been to work with? Does he throw things at you, or does he try to get you to brainstorm?

SD: I think what probably even David would say, because it was something we actually talked about, is that, on his show, the brides come to him and he goes, “No, no, no, your idea is awful, let me change it and make it mine.” And this was very different, because it wasn’t about a show. It was about an actual, real wedding, and I had a definitive vision, and there was no negotiating with me. None. And he didn’t even try, because that wasn’t his job. His job was to actually be a wedding coordinator. And a wedding planner and a wedding consultant. And that means you take the bride’s vision and you make it happen. It doesn’t mean that you look at her and say, “Your idea sucks.”

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