The Best and Worst of Retro Remakes for the Big Screen and Small
It’s been all over the Bionic press for years:
Mark Wahlberg will take the lead in The Six Billion Dollar Man, a theatrical motion picture based on the original 1973–1978 ABC-TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, which featured Lee Majors as the super-human cyborg Col. Steve Austin.
This past holiday season, ABC once more rebooted an episode of the 1970s sitcom, All in the Family, as they had earlier in the year. The first time, they paired that iconic, ground-breaking show with a remade segment of The Jeffersons which, like All in the Family, also debuted in the 1970s, and was introduced to TV-landers by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin (who never gets properly credited for his contributions to/in the history of the medium).
The second time ABC re-ran with All in the Family, they paired it with Good Times, yet another staple from the Lear/York stable.
For my money, all of these Lear/York re-dos were dreadful. The contemporary actors involved seemed obsessed with (and poorly directed to) mimick the original classic TV stars of All in the Family/The Jeffersons/Good Times, instead of creating their own interpretations of the actual characters on those shows.
The result: the new take on Family/Jeffersons/Good Times played more like skits on Saturday Night Live…in its bad years.
Over the past few decades, television remakes appeared on the big and small screens. Reimaginings of Knight Rider, The Bionic Woman, The Munsters, and Ironside, among others, have failed to win-over home-viewers, while a new Wonder Woman did not make it past event the pilot stage. At the movies, classic-TV-to-feature-film adaptations have done hit (Mission: Impossible, Charlie’s Angels, The Fugitive), and miss (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, the latter two featuring Johnny Depp in heavy white-face make-up).
Only a few in this unique genre have triumphed, both at the home and theatre box office, as well with the critics, such as the new TV edition of Battlestar: Galactica, and the numerous big and small-screen extensions of Star Trek (which itself is once more returning to television — in January 2017 — on the CBS All Access network, as is a new FOX-TV…