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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 488170

Reported Deaths: 6602
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1012851589
Ramsey43273808
Dakota36543394
Anoka33430390
Washington22183261
Stearns18786202
St. Louis14866265
Scott13381107
Wright12580116
Olmsted1184890
Sherburne877174
Carver783241
Clay694587
Rice672291
Blue Earth599635
Kandiyohi580674
Crow Wing522782
Chisago501045
Otter Tail485570
Benton449290
Winona420049
Mower410031
Douglas393768
Goodhue388069
Nobles387147
Polk344663
McLeod340550
Beltrami338751
Morrison326247
Itasca314246
Becker313942
Lyon313844
Isanti308256
Steele303011
Carlton300249
Freeborn285824
Pine282616
Nicollet261541
Todd249230
Brown247237
Le Sueur237420
Mille Lacs229047
Cass221024
Waseca210117
Meeker208134
Martin190629
Wabasha18713
Roseau180917
Hubbard160741
Houston158114
Dodge15384
Renville151640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13908
Pennington137716
Chippewa136835
Cottonwood135920
Wadena131320
Faribault124517
Aitkin119233
Watonwan11798
Sibley117610
Rock116114
Kanabec108119
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9538
Jackson94210
Swift87818
Pope8095
Marshall78415
Stevens7468
Lake74218
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68616
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5122
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson40921
Red Lake3615
Traverse3105
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 336947

Reported Deaths: 5491
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51993559
Linn19497317
Scott17149212
Black Hawk14956293
Woodbury13828214
Johnson1314875
Dubuque12444195
Dallas1021893
Pottawattamie9877146
Story963545
Warren514076
Clinton502184
Cerro Gordo500683
Webster495588
Sioux479869
Marshall464273
Des Moines427961
Muscatine425693
Buena Vista412637
Wapello4042110
Jasper387267
Plymouth368578
Lee354453
Marion341171
Jones285055
Henry279837
Bremer270255
Carroll266649
Crawford253535
Boone244030
Benton240854
Washington239247
Mahaska215746
Jackson209939
Dickinson204140
Tama202865
Kossuth198655
Delaware186140
Clay184425
Winneshiek183228
Fayette179235
Page177919
Buchanan177829
Wright174231
Hamilton173842
Cedar172723
Hardin169839
Harrison167670
Clayton160154
Butler159231
Mills148420
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145541
Allamakee144148
Madison143018
Iowa140323
Hancock138030
Grundy132230
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129411
Cass129251
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123347
Louisa122444
Mitchell120540
Chickasaw119915
Union119131
Sac118718
Shelby117433
Emmet115440
Humboldt113725
Guthrie109628
Franklin109219
Palo Alto101321
Howard99522
Montgomery96936
Clarke95020
Keokuk92529
Monroe89828
Adair81529
Ida81532
Pocahontas80919
Davis76523
Monona76427
Greene73110
Lucas72121
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Unassigned6590
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4769
Wayne47121
Adams3184
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