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COLUMN: Taking a television trip back in time

Old shows have found new life in reboots

The date on the calendar shows 2019, but judging from what’s on television these days, I’m wondering if I’ve taken a trip back in time.

Networks have been creating an increasing number of reboots of shows from earlier decades.

Some of the choices include S.W.A.T., Magnum, P.I., MacGyver and Will and Grace — all shows which originated in earlier decades.

READ ALSO: Canadian actors push for more diversity in television, film casting

S.W.A.T., a show about a police team, was a series from 1975 to 1976. A reboot, based on this show, has been on the air since 2017.

Magnum, P.I., about a private investigator in Hawaii, was broadcast from 1980 to 1988. It came back to life in 2018.

MacGyver aired from 1985 to 1992. Its reboot began in 2016.

Will and Grace, a 1998 to 2006 series, was resurrected in 2017.

Roseanne was on the air from 1988 to 1997. Then, 21 years later, Roseanne Barr and the rest of the cast were back on the screen with all-new episodes from March to May, 2018.

After Barr posted some controversial comments on Twitter in May, 2018, she and her name were removed from the show, but the rest of the cast remained and the series, now renamed The Connors, continues to air.

Beverly Hills 90210, a series about a group of young friends in an upscale California neighbourhood, was originally broadcast from 1990 to 2000.

Cast member Luke Perry died earlier this year, but the rest of the actors are back in a six-season reboot, BH90210.

READ ALSO: Without Luke Perry, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ cast prepares reboot

This reboot is not a continuation of the original series. It doesn’t focus much on the characters and their lives today.

Instead, it is a show about the actors who played those roles.

As a result, it is the television equivalent to watching a group of students at a high school reunion as they reminisce about their younger years.

But wait. That’s not all. There’s more.

Remember All in the Family, with the loud, outspoken and politically incorrect Archie Bunker?

The show was broadcast from 1971 to 1979, but a one-night reboot was aired in April of this year.

READ ALSO: Who’s ready for a new Archie Bunker, live on your TV?

Could this be a test case to determine if a remake of the original series should proceed?

And for those who were fans of The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974, you’re in luck as HGTV will soon air A Very Brady Renovation, featuring the child actors from this show and the house where the Brady family lived.

The recent fascination with older television shows is puzzling.

Instead of showing visions of the present or the future, reboots play on presenting elements from the past.

Today is not yesterday. We no longer live in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.

Archie Bunker had quite a bit of shock value when All in the Family aired back in 1971.

But that was nearly 50 years ago. Today, any of us could find plenty of outspoken people among us — people whose comments would make poor Archie blush.

And while Roseanne pushed boundaries during its initial run in the 1980s and 1990s, the show, if aired for the first time today, would not be considered groundbreaking.

Barr’s main character, as depicted in the original series in 1988, would not be considered all that unusual today.

Are reboots of old television shows still relevant today?

Considering these reboots are attracting audiences, there is definitely a viewer demand for them.

But this trend raises another question. Do old shows return because they represent the best in television, or do they provide a nostalgic reprieve from a world some would rather escape?

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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