I think Hollywood might be on to something with this whole remaking 90210 thing.
Repackaging old ideas for a new audience? Genius!
It got me thinking: There are some pretty solid shows from yesteryear I wouldn't mind seeing on my DVR. Though, of course, they'd have to be buffed and polished for the discerning modern viewer.
Sure, the facts of life have changed -- now there's the threat of worldwide terrorism, the HPV vaccine, and accumulated debt from student loans -- but this 1980s classic about life in a Peekskill, NY boarding school still sounds pretty sweet. And with teenagers practically running Hollywood right now (damn your clothing allowance Miley Cyrus!) there would be no shortage of fresh faces lining up to play Jo, Natalie, Tootie and Blair. Ooh, I can totally see the Jonas Brothers popping in as guests in a very special episode about not sleeping with your date at the spring mixer, even though he, like, totally gave you an iPod.
Tyne Daly as batty den mother Mrs. Garrett.
Bill Cosby usually gets all the credit for bridging the racial gap on TV, but this edgy 1970's comedy about a black family living in the Chicago projects lured in white viewers way before the first Huxtable sweater was worn. Despite some recent bright spots, like FOX's The Bernie Mac Show, the all-black-ensemble family comedy has only become more distanced from mainstream programming. Which is why I would love to see an update of the Evans family's triumphs and travails, if only to hear J.J. expound on his dy-no-mite-ness. I mean, was there ever a better catch-phrase in prime time?
Dream casting: Dave Chappelle as J.J. Evans. (Yeah, yeah, I know. But it's called "dream" casting for a reason.)
I think you know where I'm going with this one. How great would it be to update this barely amusing late-1980s romp with two gay dads and their born-from-a-surrogate daughter? All of the milestones in a teenage daughter's life -- her first period, her first kiss, her first prom -- would be that much more, well, reinvented if told through a, say, tomboy character whose dads lecture her incessantly about the lack of feng shui in her bedroom. Stereotypes? You bet! Isn't that what made the trailblazing gem Will & Grace totally consumable by straight audiences?
The mere notion of remaking this show is almost enough to make me vote for McCain. Because if Obama wins, pitting a young, money-obsessed Republican teenager against his liberal hippie parents in 2009 just wouldn't be as funny. The original show -- easily my favorite sitcom of the decade -- managed to both lampoon and celebrate the Reagan years. How many family sitcoms today features storylines about the economy, politics, peace, love, and the unabashed pursuit of wealth in America? Exactly.
The old yarn of "You can never go home again" has been done to death in Hollywood, for better (Ed) and for worse (The Ellen Show, anyone?). But no show since Travolta was a sweat-hog has made coming home (as Gabe Kaplan's Mr. Kotter did), so frickin' hilarious. And the genius was Kaplan's (one of the show's creators) letting his co-stars [sweat]hog the spotlight. There hasn't been a decent comedy about high school since Freaks and Geeks, and it's high time that sitcom be set in a real, contemporary school. (Think: metal detectors and cops as hallway monitors. Welcome back indeed!)
Update: While writing this treatise, I discovered that a remake of Welcome Back, Kotter is slated for 2009, with Ice Cube as the teacher who "comes home again" to teach at his old inner-city high school. Not sure how I feel about the casting choice, but one thing is certain: I'm kind of a genius.