Nowadays it seems like every “new” television show has its roots in a classic favorite. Reboots and revivals have become so common you that our kids are now following TV families we grew up watching.
With the success of revivals like Fuller House and Will & Grace, networks and streaming services are eager to fill slots with new ideas based on old shows. Hollywood is resurrecting our most loved characters through reboots (new cast, same premise) and revivals (same cast, with storylines continued) and generations of audiences are happily tuning in again.
The rise of the reboots has gotten us all thinking . . . which of our favorite shows deserve a comeback? And how would the rebooted versions look?
As I imagined storylines for classic shows, I was lucky enough to pick the brains of some original stars of fan favorite shows. They shared their thoughts on the potential of these returns and if our fantasy storylines would make the script. Take a look at these four shows and the input I got from their stars.
Gimme a Break!
I was a kid and when Nell Carter was bringing both silliness and important lessons to the Kanisky family in the popular 80’s sitcom Gimme a Break.
Lara Jill Miller, who is known today for her versatile voiceover career, played Samantha, one of the daughters on the show. I spoke to the sweet and witty actress — just Lara to Lara — and I asked her if she thought an updated reboot of Gimme a Break might be feasible.
“A reboot would be interesting,” Miller considered. “Although I think part of what made our show so popular was that we dealt with some topics ahead of our time, and that wouldn’t be the case anymore.”
“Also, without Nell – well – I don’t know who could fill her shoes,” she continued.
But the idea of a reunion show seems great to Miller, and it sounds like she already has the storyline planned! “The three girls grown up . . . Samantha a cop – maybe like her dad, but an animal cop – always saving animals. Julie runs a BandB in our old house. Katie flew off to be a fashion designer – and we all have a reunion back at our old house in Glenlawn! Simpson the cop’s nephew or someone is now the police chief. Addy, Nell’s old friend visits. Gee – you’d think I thought about this before, huh?”
Miller is clearly open to returning to Glenlawn. “Hey any writers want to sell the show?” she joked. “I’m sure us three girls would be game. Everything old is new again, right?”
It’s no secret that I am a true Monkophile. I religiously watched this hit mystery series for eight seasons.
Since I’m practically organizing a petition to the USA network to get a Monk revival going, this is one storyline to which I’ve given plenty of thought!
It should come together easily: Adrian is continuing his private investigation work while staying connected to Trudy’s daughter Molly. But he begins to feel lonely again as both Stottlemeyer and Natalie remarry and he learns that Randy and Sharona are engaged — and returning to San Francisco after Benji took a job on the West Coast and Sharona misses him. New cases bring the gang back together, reminding Adrian once again how much he misses his extended “family.”
When I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Monk’s stars, Jason Gray-Stanford, I asked him his thoughts about the popularity of bringing old shows back.
“I’m all for reboots, I think it’s a great idea,” he told me. “It seems everything old is new again . . . especially on TV.” Jason seems to get that same fuzzy feeling we all have when we flip on the TV and see folks we grew up with. “It’s good timing with all that’s going on in the world,” he added insightfully. “It’s comfortable, familiar territory of a less complicated time. Like a warm blanket.”
These days, fans can’t help but think of Adrian’s notorious germophobia, and Monk marathons are a popular feature on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and the Sundance channel. All this bingeing — and hand-washing — has led to an outcry for a Monk return. So can we hope that Jason will reprise his Randy role for a reunion?
“I think the cast would love to do one,” Gray-Stanford told me. “That is probably a better question for USA network where we spent eight great years.” (Cue the petition, Monk fanatics.) “But I do hear that lots of people out there would love a few more Monks,” he added.
Does Jason have the premise in mind? “I stay away from all the stories and let the wonderful writers and Andy Breckman, our creator, take care of all of that,” he answered. “They did such a great job that I wouldn’t dare muck it up for them.” The idea seems to spark his imagination though. “But yeah, I bet there are still a lot of great storylines out there for Monk and the gang.”
As the world events this year seem like life is imitating art, a Monk return could practically write itself.
Step by Step
A popular talent in the voiceover world with a long history in television, Jason Marsden appeared on just about every 90’s sitcom you grew up with. When I interviewed Marsden, we talked about his roots in those classic coming-of-age shows and how today’s reboots are making what’s old new again.
So is this veteran actor on board with all the remakes? It seems so. “I like the idea because I’m a nostalgiac,” Marsden told me, describing reboots as, “safe, comfortable, and familiar.” And if he had his say, we’d see the return of Quantum Leap.
Marsden played Rich on Step by Step, and the series brings back great memories for him. “There was a lot of freedom and love on that set,” he shared. And what fans may not know is that the story was supposed to continue longer than it did.
“Rich and Dana were going to get married,” Marsden revealed. “There was even a spinoff in the works about them, but it never happened.” Marsden speculated the spinoff would have had a similar feel to Fuller House but with some challenges since it had such a big cast.
Step by Step was picked up for another full season but ended prematurely without a real finale. “We don’t always understand why networks do what they do,” Marsden explained. Despite the fact that Rich and Dana’s show never came to fruition, some held out hope later for a return. Patrick Duffy, who Marsden describes as “outstanding,” said in a 2010 interview that he’d love a reunion show. Whether the rest of the cast would go for it remains to be seen, as some have left acting, including Staci Keanan who is now an attorney.
Even if a full revival isn’t possible, surely a Step by Step reunion would be fun — and sizeable! How many matching family reunion tee shirts should we order?
One of the most popular sitcoms of the nineties centered around a man whose love for power tools was overshadowed only by his love for his family. For eight seasons, Tim Allen starred in Home Improvement as “Tim the Tool Man Taylor,” everybody’s favorite local TV star and neighbor over the fence.
Fans have been pleading for a Home Improvement revival or reunion, and often head to social media to bounce the idea off Richard Karn, who played Tim’s loveable, flannel-clad “Tool Time” co-host Al Borland.
When I reached out to Karn about his thoughts on a Home Improvement revival, he seemed enthusiastic about the idea. “I would love to see these characters a few more years down the road,” he responded. “The possibilities are endless.”
Tim Allen has shown interest in a reunion too. So as long as he’s not busy making Toy Story 12, it may actually happen. And what could fans see if the Taylor’s come back together?
If you remember the series finale, Tim leaves “Tool Time” when Jill is offered a job in Indiana, and the Taylor’s make a big move — but not without their lovingly improved home — which they transport by trailer to Indiana. So unless Tim has decided to bring the house back to Michigan, the reunion would most likely take place in their new neighborhood in Indiana. Tim and Jill may be retired while Tim runs a DIY YouTube channel. Brad, Randy, and Mark are living nearby, and Randy has made Tim and Jill doting grandparents. And Al? He and Trudy launched a haute couture fashion line made entirely of flannel. (“I don’t think so Tim.”) Okay, okay, Al and Trudy relocated to Indiana with their kids so Al could manage the technology side of Tim’s YouTube channel. Since let’s face it, Tim would probably set fire to YouTube.
Whether or not these four shows do make a return, there’s undoubtedly many more reboots and revivals coming down the pike. And audiences are here for it. Who says you can’t go home again?