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Failed TV Reboots

February 7, 2018

Everything old is new again—many TV shows are reboots of old hits, such as Will & Grace, Roseanne, American Idol, and Dynasty. Here’s a look at some attempted reboots of some old hits that never even made it to the idiot box.

Murder, She Wrote

In 2013, NBC announced that it was reviving Murder, She Wrote, the hit CBS series that ran for 12 years featuring Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a small-town Maine mystery novelist who solved a murder in every episode. A top 10 hit for almost its entire run that made Lansbury a TV legend, it was a hard act to follow. Willing to try: Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer. In this version, Spencer would’ve played a hospital administrator who also wrote mysteries and who also solved mysteries. Fans of the original series were not happy, including Lansbury, who said it was “a mistake to call it “Murder, She Wrote”” because it would never live up to the original series. NBC ultimately scrapped the series before a pilot was even shot.

The Munsters

Inexplicably, there were two monster-themed family sitcoms on network TV in the mid-1960s: The Addams Family and The Munsters. Both have been revisited several times; the former with a couple of hit movies starring Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston; the latter in the ’80s as The New Munsters. In 2011, NBC ordered a pilot for a dark, gritty re-imagining of the goofy sitcom in which the horror outweighed the comedy. Retitled Mockingbird Lane (after the spooky street where the Munsters’ mansion was based), a two-hour pilot was shot starring Jerry O’Connell as Herman Munster and Eddie Izzard as Grandpa. Unlike the old show, elaborate makeup wasn’t used to transform the actors into familiar movie monsters. Also unlike the old show, the Munsters weren’t afraid to kill people. It wasn’t ordered to series, but NBC aired the pilot as a special around Halloween 2012 to high ratings…and it still wasn’t picked up.

Wonder Woman

A big-screen version of Wonder Woman was one of the most well-received box office hits of the year, but TV viewers almost had a Wonder Woman revival in 2010. Written by veteran TV writer and show creator David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal), it starred Friday Night Lights actress Adrienne Padilici as the titular superhero in the modern era. With its familiar premise and creator pedigree, it seemed like Wonder Woman was a shoot-in for NBC’s fall schedule, but the network passed. The only major Wonder Woman TV show remains the iconic 1970s iteration starring Lynda Carter.


Barry Kemp has created a bunch of TV shows, such as Newhart and Coach. In 2015, he signed with CBS to develop a show, but NBC was so mad they didn’t get a chance at the show that the network offered him a chance to reboot Coach. The affable 1989 to 1997 series starred Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, the coach of a college football team, and while a hit was never a cultural phenomenon; Kemp has said he never once thought about bringing it back until NBC asked him to. So, he worked out a surprisingly elaborate, two-season plot arc for the sitcom in which Fox signs on as an assistant coach at a college where his son is the coach. Season 1 would’ve focused on the Foxes building a team; season 2 would’ve focused on game by game details. Kemp was going to use social media to have fans weigh in on team colors and even a fight song. Then, a few months later, NBC called Kemp and told him the show was canceled, even though they’d already contracted him to air a full season.

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