Friday, June 17, 2016
Networks and Netflix Banking on Classic Shows
Everything old eventually becomes new again. Sometimes remakes are huge blockbuster successes. More often than not, even nostalgia can’t save rehashed content. Some hits are hits because they land in a specific time and place. They become part of the culture because they speak to something current, meshing with the soul of the culture in that moment. Entertainment is no different.
Some things are timeless. Others have their moment. But that doesn’t stop networks from trying to remake it. The most recently attempts to find success where it was found decades ago are two children’s shows coming to Netflix and Disney Channel respectively.
Last week, Netflix released “Voltron: Legendary Defender.” This is a remake of the wildly popular 1980s cartoon about five robot lions that combine to form a giant robot Defender of the Universe. Yes, it was VERY 80s. Remember, this was pre-Power Rangers. The days when He-Man and Transformers ruled kid TV. Space and robots? Why not make Space Robots. So, that’s what they did…and 80s kids could not get enough.
But times changed. The 80s mantra of biggest guns and baddest dudes in entertainment was replaced across the board with a more subdued, funny and cynical brand of media, even for kids. Children that had once sat riveted in front of Voltron now laughed derisively with Ren & Stimpy. Times had changed. Netflix is hoping the time is ripe for another helping of the Defenders of the Universe.
Meanwhile, Disney is dusting off Adventures in Babysitting. Another 80s go-to entertainment choice, this time for pre-teens and tweens. Elisabeth Shue of Karate Kid fame starred in this feature film, which Disney has adapted with a modern touch. While the premise is similar, the plot in this one is dressed up for the modern era, centering significantly on switched up cell phones. But it’s not just kids shows getting rebooted. Popular brands like MacGyver and Lethal Weapon are being given modern updates as well. While producers are banking on name recognition to help them achieve early success. That’s a dual-edged sword. Longtime fans know what they’re looking for, so if the production doesn’t deliver, they’ll be the first to jump ship and bury the brands they grew up loving.