For better or worse, making reboots of television shows are regular thing every year. While there are some success stories of movies rebooted into television format, more often than not reboots of former television shows fail to capture the same popularity as the original. For instance, fans were up in arms following the news of a Charmed reboot that not only isn’t going to include the original cast members but is basically retelling the same stories with different actresses. Audiences are much more receptive of revivals; bringing back a television series with its original cast and stories intact for a limited run.
Up until the modern age of shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Supergirl and Jessica Jones, superhero television shows of the past really are a mixed bag. Some series had great ideas and were just executed badly, but some were just plain awful. With superhero television shows and movies gaining mainstream popularity, it’s only a matter of time before more shows from the past are rebooted by networks in an attempt to cash in. CBR takes a look at some of the superhero shows of the past we wouldn’t mind seeing a reboot of, and some that were enough to be a one-hit wonder the first time around.
15. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: BLADE
Blade was one of the most successful Marvel trilogies prior to what we now know as the MCU, so it was no surprise that executives would try and turn it into a series. It premiered on the then Spike cable network in June 2006 and starred Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones in the title role. Supporting cast members would include a pre-Teen Wolf Jill Wagner, Neil Jackson, Jessica Gower and Nelson Lee.
Despite having high ratings during the series premiere and a script from comic veteran scribes Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer (who wrote the films), the series was cancelled after just four months. With an extremely competitive cable programming landscape and having to tone down the violence of the movies to make it suitable to television hurt the show so much that it was pulled before the final episode aired. He’s a character best portrayed in an R-rated setting.
14. SHOULD REBOOT: NIGHT MAN
Loosely based on the comic book series of the same name, Night Man was a syndicated superhero show that aired in the late ’90s. It followed the heroics of saxophonist Johnny Domino who gains telepathic abilities after being struck by lightning. He further augments his abilities by wearing a bulletproof bodysuit that also enables him to fly, become invisible and have night vision. Notable guest-stars included pop star Taylor Dayne, Little Richard and a pre-presidential Donald Trump.
Although the costumes and special effects would be considered low-budget by today’s standards, Night Man actually ran for two seasons (a good length of time for superhero shows back then) and was even nominated for a Leo Award for its musical score. With an updated suit and improved CGI, Night Man could become a serialized version of Marvel’s Iron Man.
13. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: SMALLVILLE
Smallville premiered on The WB network back in 2001 and became one of the longest-running superhero shows in history, finishing with ten seasons. The series focused on a pre-Superman Clark Kent (played by Tom Welling) during his formative high schools years and into adulthood. He had a group of friends who would eventually learn about his secret abilities and help him fight against evil, similar to Buffy and her Scooby Gang. Popular DC characters like Oliver Queen, Black Canary and Zatanna were featured throughout the series.
By the time Smallville ended, it was time for Clark to finally put on his cape and fly off to become Superman. While some seasons were better than others, Smallville was a solid superhero show overall. However, between having the show last for ten years, plus knowing what becomes of Clark, there doesn’t seem to be much story left to tell necessarily.
12. SHOULD REBOOT: WITCHBLADE
Based on the hit comic book series, Witchblade premiered in 2001 on TNT and ran for two seasons. It followed Det. Sara Pezzini, played by Yancy Butler, a police detective who comes into possession of the Witchblade, a supernatural, sentient gauntlet. The Witchblade bonds with its host, endowing them with a variety of powers in order to fight supernatural evils. Although the show was popular with audiences and critics alike, the show was cancelled in 2002, reportedly because Butler had entered rehab for alcoholism.
With the phenomenal success of DCEU’s Wonder Woman and Netflix’s Jessica Jones, it’s only a matter of time before networks start trying to put together their own female superhero television show. Witchblade would be a perfect choice to bring back, especially since it ended so prematurely. Plus, with the progress CGI has made since 2001, a modern day Witchblade would look way more impressive.
11. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: THE CROW: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
In 1994, Dimension Films released The Crow starring Brandon Lee, and while it may have been a relatively obscure character, it would become one of the most acclaimed comic book movies. Tragically, Lee was accidentally killed during the filming of the movie, leaving fans heartbroken and forcing the studio to find another way to move forward with their sequels.
Based on the movie, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven centered on Eric Draven, with a recast of Mark Dacascos in place of Lee, and was distributed via syndication. The series was meant to expand Eric’s search for justice and redemption, with the show featuring the same characters from the movie, just played by different actors. Despite positive reviews and decent ratings, the series was cancelled after it’s production company was bought out. It’s hard to improve on the original, The Crow is better left as a cult movie classic.
10. SHOULD REBOOT: BIRDS OF PREY
Birds of Prey debuted on The WB network back in 2002 with one of the largest premiere audiences in the network’s history. While the network stuck with the basic premise of the comic book version, one major change started this show off on the wrong foot with fans. Black Canary would not be part of the team, instead it would be a new character with psionic powers named Dinah who joined Barbara Gordon’s Oracle and Helena Kyle’s Huntress (Dinah would later be revealed as Black Canary’s daughter).
Unfortunately, mediocre writing, a lack of direction for the majority of the series and the disenfranchising of the source material’s fan base lead to the downfall after only 13 episodes. Although, Dinah Meyer’s amazing performance as Barbara Gordon was probably the best reason to sit through the series. An updated Birds of Prey would be a perfect fit for DC’s Arrowverse.
9. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: SUPER FORCE
Designed to be a companion series to the syndicated Superboy of the early ’90s, Super Force was about a former astronaut, Zach Stone, who used an advanced combat suit and motorcycle to fight crime in the year 2020. The suit endowed Zach with great strength and armaments, while the motorcycle had James Bond-style gadgets and accessories. The show ran for two seasons before being cancelled in May of 1992.
While it was a solid show for what it was, it didn’t necessarily have the most original plot. We’ve seen the regular guy don a super-suit to fight crime story more than a few times and it had gotten stale, despite a charming performance turned in by lead actor Ken Olandt. Ultimately, the show didn’t hold up against the test of time, making Super Force not so super.
8. SHOULD REBOOT: THE AVENGERS
Obviously, we’re not talking about Marvel’s Avengers (though that would pose a copyright issue), but the ’60s British spy series starring Ian Hendry, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. Ironically, it boasts some similarities to the comic book Avengers, particularly Rigg’s leather-clad character, Emma Peel, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Black Widow. Inspired by the James Bond movies, this series focused on a team of spies working to protect the world from evil criminals.
Even though there was a movie reboot in 1998 starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, it wasn’t exactly a box office hit. Spy stories are best told in a television format in order to flesh out detailed plots, like Jennifer Garner’s Alias. Using the successful Kingsmen movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a guideline, an updated serialized version of The Avengers would be perfect.
7. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
This one is a little bit of no-brainer, because The Tomorrow People has been rebooted not once, but twice over the past few decades. The original series was British and aired from 1973-1979, featuring a group of teenagers with various psionic abilities like telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation. Of course, there’s an evil organization after them while they seek out others with similar powers. The show was rebooted in the early ’90s with a more kid-friendly tone and aired in the US on Nickelodeon.
The CW attempted another reboot in 2013, with a more edgier tone that the previous two incarnations. Following lukewarm ratings and a lackluster season, The CW did not renew the series. Three times is enough to tell the same story over and over again. Ironically, many of the lead actors would go on to find roles in other superhero shows like The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
6. SHOULD REBOOT: BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY
Although some consider it a Star Wars rip-off, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ran for two seasons during the late ’70s and developed a cult following. Starring Gil Gerard as a time-displaced space shuttle captain who tries to acclimate to a world 500 years in the future, he becomes part of the militaristic Earth Defense Directorate, an organization sworn to protect the colonies of Earth from galactic threats. The show also starred Erin Gray as Col. Wilma Deering, becoming one of the first feminist characters to be featured regularly on television.
Despite keeping high ratings during the first season, Buck Rogers suffered from the sophomore slump in season two. A decline in ratings combined with a Hollywood writers strike lead NBC to cancel the show without a proper finale. Good outer space dramas are hard to come by these days, so an updated version would be a welcome addition.
5. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: FOREVER KNIGHT
Forever Knight was a Canadian television series about Nick Knight, an 800-year old vampire who is also a police detective in the present day. Wracked with guilt over his killing of others for centuries, he seeks redemption by working as a homicide detective on the night shift, all while trying to find a way to become human again. It premiered in May of 1992 and ran for three seasons.
Despite winning a Gemini Award and generating a book series based on the show, Forever Knight became a cult favorite after being cancelled at the end of the third season. Honestly, there’s already been a sort of reboot, it was a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called Angel, also about a vampire working as a private detective working on redemption. It lasted much longer and acquired a stronger fan base in the process.
4. SHOULD REBOOT: CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE
Similar in theme to the Terminator movies, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future portrayed a dystopian future in which machines have taken over the world, only instead of killing humans, they assimilate them. Captain Power ran in syndication in the late ’80s and followed a small team of guerrilla fighters with special skills who worked together to oppose the machine forces. The show was also known for being one of the first to merge live action with CGI enhancements.
Despite a successful video game and toy line, Captain Power was cancelled after one season. Its downfall was trying to be appealing to adults with its dark, adult themes and to children with it’s animation factor. It ended up alienating both audiences and suffered from declining ratings. J. Michael Straczynski (Sense8) was a writer on the show and has expressed interest in rebooting the series using modern CGI applications.
3. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: TEAM KNIGHT RIDER
While there’s no doubt that the original Knight Rider was a pop culture phenomenon, Team Knight Rider not so much. Following in the footsteps of the original, this reboot saw a team of five, each with a computerized vehicle, be recruited by FLAG to go after notorious criminals who were “above the law.” One of the characters was even hinted at being Michael Knight’s daughter, though it was never confirmed, despite Michael making an appearance in the final scene of the finale.
This is a case of name recognition and nostalgia not being enough to support a television show. While we applaud TKR for it’s diverse cast, the show just came off as a bad imitation of the Power Rangers. It only lasted for one season and then there was another reboot attempt of the original Knight Rider over at NBC in 2008 that also ran for just one season.
2. SHOULD REBOOT: MISFITS OF SCIENCE
Misfits of Science debuted in the fall of 1985 and while it only lasted one season, it went on to develop a cult following. A team of “human anomalies” with special abilities is formed by a research scientist who wishes to help people learn about their powers and stop criminals from manipulating them. Sound familiar? It should, members of the team included a fellow scientist with Ant-Man like shrinking powers, a rock-and-roll musician with the ability to manipulate electricity and a telekinetic teenager (played by Courteney Cox, in her first major television role).
With team dynamics similar to The Ghostbusters and weird abilities, Misfits was way ahead of its time. Ironically, Tim Kring was a writer on the show and would use similar themes when he created Heroes in 2006. A modern day telling of the science side of having superpowers would be a welcome addition to the television landscape.
1. SHOULDN’T REBOOT: THE SECRET WORLD OF ALEX MACK
The Secret World of Alex Mack ran on Nickelodeon from 1994-1998, and became a smash hit. Pre-teen Alex Mack, played by Larisa Oleynik, is accidentally doused with a chemical following a spill on her way home from school, which gives her a variety of powers including telekinesis and the ability to liquefy. She struggles to lead a normal life, with only her best friend and sister knowing her secret, while helping others.
While there is no denying the show was a success, it ended after season four because Oleynik wanted to start a film career. We wouldn’t be interested in an Alex Mack reboot, because it’s best not to mess with the original, but we would love to see a revival of the show. Similar to what was done with Raven-Symone’s That’s So Raven/Raven’s House; we would love to see a grown-up Alex, Ray and Annie.
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