With a raft of notable revivals on the horizon, such as X-Files, Twin Peaks, Prison Break, Full House, and Heroes, TV networks are increasingly focused on reusing the past for the future. However, the passing of time renders a revived show different in some way. Here’s a look at 3 recent revivals and how they have fared.
24 – “Live Another Day”, Fox, 2014
After 24 ended its run in 2008 with its eighth season, rumours of a 24 movie have always circulated. Eventually, the movie did not come to fruition but a ninth season did; 24: Live Another Day was announced as a limited-event series: TV-speak for “we’re open to making more seasons but we’ll hedge our bets in case this crashes and burns.”
This ninth season was different in a couple of ways, the most prominent being it would run for only 12 episodes instead of the usual 24. For a show that is primarily built on each season representing a day, or 24 hours, this presented a unique challenge as at some point, 24 would have to abandon its real-time gimmick for the first time. Also, the season was set in London instead of within the United States, and would not feature the Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU) as portrayed in the initial run.
However, for all the changes, I still enjoyed Live Another Day immensely when it premiered.
For a start, the 12-episode length did not hamper the storyline but instead enhanced it. 24, a truly plot-driven show, relies on relentless momentum to sustain itself, and so in its initial run, you would always feel that the 24-episode length was too long to sustain its quality. Thus, watching Live Another Day, I felt that I was watching 24 that literally had no time to lose.
Also, Live Another Day brought back what made 24 so memorable. Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, William Devane, and Kim Raver were notable returnees, and Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) also starred as a villain. Even though some of the plotting were reminiscent of what had already happened in earlier seasons, the action was once again thrilling.
After Live Another Day received solid ratings, Fox plans to reboot 24 without any of the original cast in the upcoming years. It would be a sad day when there is 24 without Jack Bauer, but Live Another Day was still a great reminder of what 24 can be.
Conclusion: 24: Live Another Day provides a reminder of the show’s original glory and will probably pave the way for a reboot.
Arrested Development – Season 4, Netflix, 2013
Formerly cancelled by Fox in 2006, the cult comedy Arrested Development received a welcome jolt to the heart when Netflix announced it would pick up the show for a 15-episode fourth season.
The fourth season reunited the entire main cast, with a twist: due to the cast members’ conflicting schedules, there was precious little time that they could all film together. So, the episodes of the season was structured from each character’s point of view, featuring that character prominently while the other characters would either not be present or appear sporadically.
I liked the fourth season, but did not like it as much as the previous three seasons. The “featured character” structure of each episode meant that there were so few of the scenes where the entire Bluth family would be together, robbing the show of one of its best sources of laughter. Also, the character-centric structure meant that the season would not progress on a linear timeline as following a conventional narrative, which was off-putting. (The show’s creator, Mitch Hurwitz, is working on editing and releasing the season in a chronological order.)
However, for all its weaknesses, the fourth season still contained several really funny moments. The writing was solid, the cast still reliable, and the experimental structure still useful in some ways (one frequently-used Arrested Development gag of important events happening in the background is particularly useful in this structure).
The show is returning for a 17-episode fifth season next year, and I’m cautiously optimistic that it will return to what has made it such a beloved comedy.
Conclusion: The fourth season of Arrested Development is a mixed bag, but the show may well return to its greatness in its fifth season.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? – Season 9-11, The CW, 2013
The iconic improv comedy Whose Line Is It Anyway? was revived by The CW in 2013 after a six-year hiatus with most of its DNA intact – regular performers Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady returned, along with the regular format – but there were a few major changes: Drew Carey was no longer the host, with the duty handed to Aisha Tyler, and each episode would feature a special guest (usually an actor/actress who appears in a sister CW show).
What’s new about this revival? Structurally, nothing; it’s a mash of segments where the host throws out games for the performers to improvise to frequent hilarity. In this regard, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is exactly the same as its original run and just as good. The performers are older, and maybe a little thicker around the waist, but they are still mostly on the top of their game.
However, there are several changes in terms of casting, one of which is a different celebrity guest every episode. This special guest is a major detriment to the show. One of the biggest joys of watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? is seeing the performers use their easy chemistry to improvise confidently. The special guests try their best, but often they fail to match the improvisational talents of the regular performers.
Also, as with a change in host, Aisha Tyler took some time to get used to the role and working with the guests. This was especially obvious in the first season of the CW revival, but in recent seasons, she has gotten much more comfortable in her role. She’ll never be Drew Carey, but she also does not detract from the show in any way.
The CW has yet to renew Whose Line Is It Anyway? for a twelve season, but the network’s president has said it will return next year. (Update: The CW has officially renewed Whose Line Is It Anyway?.)
Conclusion: Whose Line Is It Anyway? has aged gracefully with time and looks to continue its solid run in the upcoming years.