Classic Television Show Remakes: New Favorites or Flops?


Ellie Gladson-Pang, Staff Writer

Reboots, remakes, and revivals. The programs society has seen before, in as new and shiny a light as they can be painted in. But exactly how effective is shooting for nostalgia to bring back old viewers? How many viewers can be drawn by staking millions of dollars on funding the confluence of good old-fashioned plotlines, and modern techniques and technology? 

According to the television trends of the last decade or two, shooting for nostalgia is very effective; tens of millions of viewers tune in to these types of shows. 

The comparison of classic television shows and their modern counterparts is an age-old question. Or maybe, just a question of the last decade or two. New reboots of shows that our parents watched when they were kids have been gaining traction in entertainment television in recent years, so it’s time to dive into their popularity. The popularity of television show remakes like Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, Doctor Who, and Fuller House are undeniable. Case in point, the 2010 version of Hawaii Five-0 had a whopping 12.28 million viewers at one point, compared to the 2.7 million who watch the PBS Newshour each night. 

What is it exactly that creates the appeal to the viewer? Perhaps the original storyline and premise of the show has stood the test of time, still hooking fans. The original Hawaii Five-O was a police procedural show about a special state police task force, solving crimes and delighting fans with wit, charm, and spunk. The 2010 remake focuses on the same detectives and the action and drama of a modern-day police task force, set on the same beautiful island of Oahu. Daring Steve McGarrett and sarcastic Danny Williams still endear viewers with adorable banter. These aspects of the show remain true to form and do bring the older generation back to when the show first aired in 1968, even as action and spectacular views draw in a new audience. 

In contrast, and exactly as would be expected, the writers of the remake made a few changes to suit the audience of the 2010s. The streetwise Kono Kalakaua remains from the old show but underwent a major change. Kono was a burly guy from the state police; the version of Kono that modern audiences love is a recent graduate of the police academy, a former professional surfer, and a she. 

“The development of this new character, who can really stand for gender equality, is a really good step in the entertainment industry,” said Arcadia High School (AHS) sophomore, Vania Ahmadi, “She’s really inspiring to watch on Hawaii Five-0.” 

AHS senior Katelyn Hsu also commented on the shift: “My mom used to watch the old version of the show, and the characters are definitely changed for the better in the remake.”

Most likely, it was a flawless mix of nostalgia and good action-drama writing that are to be credited with the popularity of Hawaii Five-0 over a 10-season run on CBS. 

Another point to mention in the popularity of renewed shows; the shifts in the entertainment television industry that make these shows so different from what our parents watched growing up. Over the 7 decades that television has been a mainstream commodity, there have been stark changes in the digital entertainment landscape. Trends have come and gone, meaning some conventions of the 1940s and 1950s have been completely phased out. 

For starters, society has greatly diversified since the 1950s; people typically feel more free to express themselves, instead of squeezing into the expectations of social norms. Racial, class, and gender equality, showcased in the addition of diverse main cast members to many shows, is another new standard of normal. Another change is the sheer number of platforms available for entertainment, and the broadened range and amount of content. But for whatever reasons, shows simply can’t be how they were before. They have to evolve with the times. But maybe, with a few tweaks, the things society loved so many years ago can make their timely comeback. Book ‘em Danno!


Photo Courtesy of UNSPLASH.COM