The concept of the film or TV reboot is now well accepted. In the next few months cinema goers will be treated to reboots of the Spiderman and Batman (Dark Knight) franchises. This year already TV fantasy fans have enjoyed a reboot of BBC3’s Being Human and Spartacus.
Producers play the film and TV reboots card usually to extend the life of a successful franchise when its existing actors either become too old for their roles or express their desire to move on to avoid being typecast.
The earliest example of a TV reboot is probably Doctor Who. When original actor William Hartnell left, the producers came up with the idea of allowing the character to “regenerate” into a completely different body. It was still the same person, an eccentric time traveller fighting evil across the universe, but each regeneration brought a different personality and interpretation. In this instance the reboot became integral to the story. Eventually by 1989 even this innovative method of keeping the programme fresh couldn’t save a tired format from plummeting audiences. The series was then rested for 16 years before being fully reinvented, re-suited and rebooted for a whole new generation. Doctor Who is now one of the most successful TV shows in the world.
In cinemas James Bond has been similarly refreshed by replacing the lead actor. Despite a few hiccups this has kept the franchise alive and we are now approaching the 50th anniversary of the first film, Doctor No.
Being Human is one of my favourite black comedy dramas and one of BBC3’s best products. The idea of a ghost, vampire and werewolf living together as house mates makes for extremely funny situations, some deep heart searching drama, and of course some frightening darkness interspersed with quite violent scenes.
Faced with the departure of two of the main male leads, the producers could have rested the series. But instead, over the course of the six episodes of season 4 they reinvented the show until we were left with three completely different actors playing a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf (but not the same ones!). Was this successful? I certainly didn’t enjoy this series as much as the first three, but I would agree that the producers have “pulled it off”.
Spartacus, a blood soaked, almost soft porn laden Roman sandal opera had to be rebooted because sadly the lead actor died of cancer? And the chief villain played by the wonderfully vile John Hannah was killed at the end of the first series. Again I’m not convinced that the new actor was anywhere near as good as Andy Whitfield but the supporting characters remained interesting enough to carry the show into ever bloodier battles, and examples of Roman sexual excesses.
As useful as the reboot is to the franchise producer I do wonder whether it stifles creativity and prevents new ideas from finding screen time. Would it be better to find completely new concepts and stories rather than continually reinvent the old ones?
Over to you: Do you agree with film and TV reboots or would you rather a film or TV franchise came to a natural end to be replaced with something completely new? Please post you thoughts in the comments box below.