Monday, September 26, 2022

TV: The reboot that never should have happened

As the 20th century drew to a close and the 21st began, it seemed as though film inspiration had been completely exhausted as one bad movie based on a TV show opened (and quickly closed) at one theater after another.  There was S.W.A.T., there was I SPY,  THE MOD SQUAD, INSPECTOR GADGET, THE AVENGERS (no, not the MARVEL superheroes), LAND OF THE LOST, BEWITCHED, VERONICA MARS, THE DUKES OF HAZARD, STARSKY & HUTCH, THE HONEYMOONERS, It was so bad that one of the few successful TV shows turned into a film, 2000's CHARLIE'S ANGLES, mocked the mining for false gold by opening inside an airplane where the inflight film was T.J. HOOKER: THE MOVIE.


This soil degradation continues in the world of film but this effort also sprouts up on TV.  The most recent nightmare is QUANTUM LEAP and it's also the most confusing.

Not in terms of narrative, but due to its very existence.  We're not trying to get ontological or anything.

We're just noting that no one needed a reboot of this middling show.

If it was needed, the point would be to bring back Scott Bakula who starred in the original.  (Dean Stockwell can't come back to the show because he passed away last year.)  But Bakula passed on being an elder statesman for this new show.  As a star project, that would have been another reason to test the waters with a reboot.  

Someday, Raymond Lee might be a star but he's not at present.  Yes, he's appeared in a lot of projects -- mostly middling projects and then there's TOP GUN: MAVERICK in which he's the 16th billed actor.  But he's never carried a hit and, judging by early ratings, this reboot is not going to change that.

It's his fault he took the lead (maybe he needed the money) but it's not his fault the show's performed so poorly.

ROSEANNE was a number one show in it's original run.  That it would be a hit (and it was) when it was revived was not surprising.  

But rebooting QUANTUM LEAP?

The show was out of date when it premiered.  It was the last of the hour long shows without a continuing plot line.  These episodic programs were all the rage in the fifties and sixties and seventies and eighties.  It was a bit like an anthology series but with regular characters subbing for 'hosts' each episode.  As we've long noted, MTM's HILL STREET BLUES changed everything for prime time's non-soap opera series.  It introduced continuing elements to TV drama.  That hooks the viewers and can keep them coming back.  Reboot showrunner Martin Gero doesn't get it as demonstrated both in the first three episodes that we've watched and in the statements Grio makes to the press -- such as, "The greatest thing about the show is that it's almost like a different TV show every week."

NBC's original QUANTUM LEAP was not ROSEANNE.  It wasn't even SMALL WONDER.  It was a show that aired in the 80s and 90s when there was no streaming and when there were fewer channels.  The NBC show had competition from ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS.  That's really it.  USA and TNT and TBS weren't doing original scripted programming.  The same year that QUANTUM LEAP premiered on NBC (1989), LIFETIME got its first original series when they picked up Blair Brown's THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD from NBC.

Back then, you either videotaped the program when it aired or you watched it when it aired and there wasn't a great deal of competition for eye balls -- certainly, nothing like today.

At the end of each year, QUANTUM LEAP was one of the least watched programs.  It never made it above number 53 on Nielsen's yearly rankings.  

So we're dealing with a show that, even when new, wasn't watched by many and a program with a format that's woefully out of date.  

You really have to wonder about the sanity of the suits at NBC who decided this was a show to bring back.  

No surprise, the reboot is flopping in the ratings and most of The Water Cooler set is (rightly) sneering at it.  They should be sneering at the NBC executives who were stupid enough to put this reboot on the air.
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