Reboot fever designed to solve peak TV's marketing problem

Don't look now, but the major TV networks are getting ready to party like it's 1989.The development process fo...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 3:29 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 3:29 PM

Don't look now, but the major TV networks are getting ready to party like it's 1989.

The development process for next season is still young, but the initial stages have produced a notable wave of reboots and revivals of familiar properties. CBS, for example, has ordered an update of "Murphy Brown," a program that premiered the same year as "Roseanne," in 1988, which will make its return in March on ABC.

Other pilots plucked from the revival bin -- some without "Murphy's" assurance of ever seeing the light of day, it's worth noting -- include new versions of "The Greatest American Hero" and "Cagney & Lacey" (which premiered in 1981), "Magnum P.I." (1980), "Party of Five" (1994) and "Charmed" (1998).

Why the frequent trips into the way-back machine, which has been a growing and consistent component of the TV landscape, including, among others, Netflix's "One Day at a Time" (which just began its second season), "Full House" and "Gilmore Girls" revivals?

While critics grouse about the lack of creativity such projects exhibit, developing them represents a content-driven solution to a marketing problem, one that recognizes changes in both the TV and journalistic ecosystems.

In an age of peak TV, networks are looking for any advantage they can find to help break through the clutter. Established titles offer a short-hand way of doing that, often even more so than big-name talent or arresting concepts.

Despite sniping on Twitter, journalists are also part of this process. Lacking the band-width to write about every new show, when even venerable newspapers have joined in the business of chasing web traffic, they're far more apt to devote time to projects that enjoy built-in name recognition.

Not so long ago, critics would review every new network series. Today, with so much content crying out for attention, more forgettable-sounding programs can easily fall through the cracks.

Take "A.P. Bio," a moderately amusing but mostly forgettable new NBC comedy premiering this week. Although the show stars "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" alum Glenn Howerton, it's not a given most outlets will herald its arrival, which will hardly be the case when "Roseanne" or "Murphy Brown" hits the air.

Reboots provide no assurance of success, obviously, but they have clearly enjoyed enough of it to justify gambling on them. CBS, with its older audience profile, has seen "Hawaii Five-O" and "MacGyver" become fixtures on its Friday lineup, even if the CW's "Dynasty" isn't exactly raking in the big bucks, and the latest run of Fox's "The X-Files" has been disappointing.

It's worth noting, too, that several of these prototypes largely just appropriate the title -- as a means of generating interest and sampling -- sometimes significantly changing the characters, including their race, gender or (in the case of "Greatest American Hero") both.

It's easy to mock networks for their apparent lack of creativity, in the same way critics have groaned about old TV series being transformed into movies, including artifacts like "Mission: Impossible," "21 Jump Street," "The A-Team" and (in one of last summer's bigger flops) "Baywatch."

Still, these projects are pandering to the media as much as the audience, identifying their shared weakness for titles that don't have to be sold from scratch.

So while it's easy to mock programmers for playing the equivalent of the same old song, the criticisms would have more weight if so many of us, one way or another, weren't dancing to some version of that tune.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 21960

Reported Deaths: 908
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7421549
Ramsey255198
Stearns195912
Nobles14782
Anoka124156
Dakota116438
Olmsted57010
Washington55329
Kandiyohi4711
Rice3962
Clay38625
Scott3742
Wright2631
Todd2200
Sherburne2172
Mower2061
Carver1822
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Martin1265
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Grant30
Clearwater30
Big Stone30
Red Lake30
Lac qui Parle30
Redwood30
Traverse30
Houston20
Kittson10
Hubbard10
Lake10
Roseau10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17676

Reported Deaths: 477
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3821112
Woodbury264028
Black Hawk169240
Linn93676
Marshall87511
Dallas86417
Johnson6057
Muscatine54540
Wapello5174
Crawford4872
Tama39824
Scott3419
Louisa3369
Dubuque32316
Jasper25716
Buena Vista2520
Pottawattamie2207
Sioux2040
Washington1848
Wright1240
Plymouth1181
Allamakee1184
Warren1120
Story951
Poweshiek888
Mahaska858
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines591
Boone550
Cedar461
Guthrie433
Taylor400
Benton391
Jones360
Monroe354
Clarke350
Iowa330
Osceola320
Shelby310
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Marion300
Webster281
Fayette260
Hamilton250
Madison251
Monona240
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Lee210
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Harrison190
Cherokee180
Floyd181
Jefferson180
Mills160
Delaware150
Butler150
Hancock140
Keokuk140
Greene130
Sac130
Appanoose133
Humboldt130
Ida130
Hardin130
Howard120
Jackson120
Audubon121
Cass110
Clay100
Page100
Winnebago100
Dickinson90
Carroll90
Van Buren90
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