Most Rebootable 80s Franchise (Part 2) [Think Tank]

Grab your scrunchies and slap bracelets, it’s 80s time.

Leave ’em alone, by Lee

Leave ’em alone. Walk away from the campy TV show that seems to have limitless nostalgic appeal. Avoid the temptation to “give a modern take on a classic coming of age tale” or “introduce beloved characters to a whole new generation of fans.”

Consider this: in any given year, dozens of movies and TV shows based on original stories, characters, etc. are released. Some are great, some are good, most are mediocre, and some are bad. The mediocre and the bad do little harm; they fade away and are quickly forgotten. The good and the great go on to become part of the rich fabric of popular culture.

Now consider this: in any given year, a small handful of well-loved movies and TVs from the past are remade, rebooted, given sequels, or otherwise brought back after a long hiatus. Just like movies based on original content, some are great, some are good, some are mediocre, and some are bad. BUT remember what I said about the mediocre and bad doing little harm in the case of original works? Not so when it comes to nostalgia revivals. Bad and mediocre originals typically never rise above the obscurity they deserve. But revivals are magnets for attention, and mediocre/bad revivals spread their pain far and wide. Plus, fans of a ruined franchise now have resentment and anger at the failed remake instead of pure, innocent naive enjoyment of the original works. Taken as a whole, then, the body of nostalgia revivals constitutes a net loss for fans of popular entertainment.

I know you’re thinking of counterexamples to nail me in the comments, but ask yourself: would you rather live in a world with an Escape from New York remake, or a world WITHOUT the Karate Kid remake?

karate kid jackie chan jaden smith

‘Nuff said. Leave ‘em alone.

What's the most rebootable 1980s franchise?

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9 Comments on “Most Rebootable 80s Franchise (Part 2) [Think Tank]”

  1. Glenn #

    I have but one suggestion: Perfect Strangers, co-starring Anton Yelchin as Balki.


  2. Gab #

    I can’t help but think your answer was spurred by a certain film recently in theaters, Lee. I get frustrated with remakes/sequels/prequels/etc., too, but I’m sorry you were *so* traumatized/jaded that now your love for the franchise has been marred. :(


  3. DaveW #

    Building on Gab’s comment and Lee’s answer, you know what really annoys me? When a sequel or reboot is so bad, it somehow makes the original (completely awesome) product tainted by mere association. While sequels and not reboots, the Matrix trilogy comes to mind as the most glaring example of this. The original was a spectacular film when it was released, but the sequels were so wretched that even the first moves has become an outcast and a pariah. Star Wars? Same deal. T:S (and T3, to an extent) hasn’t managed to have that effect yet, but McG’s still got two more sequels to finish murdering the originals with, so it’s still anyone’s game. Who here doesn’t think that the new G.I. Joe movie’s going to destroy any lingering fondness they may have had for the source material?


  4. Gab #

    Well, I’m quite easily entertained, and it takes a lot for something to get “ruined” for me to the extent that I won’t like it because of another edition to its canon- so I’m going to say “me” for myself. In fact, I think the previews look kind of awesome. Action fluff. BUT, I won’t be surprised if a ton of people *do* get jaded by the G.I. Joe movie.


  5. Erin #

    I won’t accept anything less than _The Adventures of Buckaroo Banazi Across the 8th Dimension_.

    …Cause the renaissance man/top neurosurgeon/particle physicist/race car driver/rock star/comic book hero/last hope of the human race combo is hot.


  6. lee OTI Staff #

    @Glenn: “Anton Yelchin as Balki”

    @Gab: I did sort of have Terminator on the mind when I wrote “Leave ’em alone,” but I suppose that could have applied to the decision to make a sequel to Terminator 2. That David Foster Wallace article we mentioned a while ago certainly took the opinion that T2 ruined T1, which is certainly a minority view.

    But even if you think T2 was great (which I do), there was plenty of risk that the sequel would have fallen well short of the original. This of course did not happen, for 2 main reasons: 1) James Cameron is James Cameron and 2) T1 was super low budget; T2 was Cameron’s chance to really max out what could possibly be done in a Terminator story.

    So I guess a better rule of thumb than a blanket “leave ’em ALL alone” for reboots/sequels would be to make sure you’re really adding value and not just stamping out another copy of a template. Also, adding value is not the same thing as making random changes to the original just for the sake of being able to say it’s not just a template copy. Sigh, this is a topic for a whole separate post.


  7. Gab #

    @Lee: You’re so gonna blog about it?


  8. Bob #

    One Word – Krull! True, not a franchise to begin with, but I think they could build it into one.


  9. Eddie #

    I voted with Lee, but mainly just because HeMan and Masters of the Universe weren’t on the list.


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