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: TV-DVD Releases You May Have Missed

God, I miss television. You’d think that, as the writer of a weekly TV column, I’d have all the time in the world to just kick back and watch the boob tube to my heart’s content, but that’s never quite how it seems to work out. Indeed, if anything, I watch less TV now that I’ve got my own TV column that I ever did before I got the column. There just aren’t enough hours in the day anymore to indulge in all of the small-screen scrumptiousness that I’d like…and, unfortunately, that also includes the wide variety of TV-DVDs that I get in to review. This seemed like as a good a time as any, then, to take a quick look at some of the more interesting sets that I’ve had piling up around my desk recently. It’s a pretty diverse bunch, to be sure, but since when is there anything wrong with a bit of variety?

Borgia: Season One: No, not “The Borgias,” although the subject matter is quite obviously similar. This is actually a series by Tom Fontana, best known for his work on such TV classics as St. Elsewhere, Homicide, and Oz, done for the French network Canal+ in 2011. Although it’s only just now come to DVD, Netflix subscribers actually had the option to enjoy the series online starting late last year. If you enjoy a good historical drama, this’ll do the trick nicely.

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father: The Complete First Season: “People, let me tell ya ’bout my best friend…” So went the opening lines of Harry Nilsson’s classic theme song, which I can still sing in its entirety when pressed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s held up 100% from its original late ’60s / early ’70s run, but Bill Bixby is one of those guys who I always wanted to be my uncle, he was always so darned affable onscreen, and as an adult I can definitely appreciate his storylines far better than I could back when I was still part of the under-10 set. (I was obviously far more partial to Brandon Cruz’s work at the time I originally watched it.)

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