10 Rebooted TV shows that were better than the original
PUBLISHED: 13:27 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:28 24 August 2018
TV remakes charter difficult territory, especially if a much-loved series is given a modern reboot. Here are 10 TV remakes which are arguably better than the original show they’re based on, from The Office to Poldark, Doctor Who to Homeland.
A remake can often be reviewed in a single sentence: “It’s not as good as the original” (see the American version of The Inbetweeners and Britain’s attempt to recreate the magic of Impractical Jokers as particularly painful examples).
But every so often, a remake comes along and proves every bit as good as the original or sometimes, even better - and with that in mind, here are 10 TV remakes that we think step out of their predecessor’s shadow and into their own spotlight.
10 TV remakes that are arguably better than the original show they’re based on
1) Hang Ups, Channel 4: A British remake of the American series, Web Therapy, both feature a therapist working with their patients over the internet. Web Therapy made its entrance (aptly enough) on the web before positive buzz led Showtime to snap up the Lisa Kudrow (yes, Phoebe from Friends)-led series. Initial reviews were mixed but over time they grew in positivity, with Kudrow in particular praised for her role as therapist, Fiona Wallice. So, what of the British attempt to recreate the magic? Stephen Mangan (Green Wing, “Dan” from I’m Alan Partridge) stars as Dr. Richard Pitt, once more conducting therapy sessions via the web. Venture into the internet wilderness yourself and you’ll find the show is garnering a very positive reception. It’s “glorious TV therapy” according to The Guardian. The Telegraph call it “an endless stream of chaotic comedy”. Viewers are raving.
2) Poldark, BBC1: In 1975, the BBC adapted Winston Graham’s Poldark novels – telling the story of Ross Poldark as he returns from American wars to his native Cornwall to right wrongs and reunite with the love of his life. It quickly became one of the most successful British TV adaptations of all time and was sold in over 40 countries. Therefore, no pressure on the 2015 remake’s attempt to recapture the magic. Fortunately for the BBC, it appears to have rose to the occasion by luring in strong audiences of five million plus, great reviews and plenty of buzz in particular when it comes to Aidan Turner in the lead role. Naked scything, you say? I’m sure that has nothing to do with the reboot’s popularity. Ahem.
3) Doctor Who, BBC: Technically, Doctor Who hasn’t really gone full remake. However, 2005 saw a return for the Time Lord and his trademark police box after its original run came to an end in 1989 and it was effectively remade with modern audiences in mind. Technicalities aside, new Who cemented its place as one of the BBC’s biggest exports, once more delivering a weird and wonderful mix of adventures through space and time. When returning for its next series, Doctor Who looks set to break new ground with Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker – the brilliant, Jodie Whittaker – taking her place at the Tardis controls.
4) Sherloc, BBC: It’s easy to lose count with how many iterations of Sherlock Holmes there have been both on the small screen and the silver one. Taking a look at TV only, then we have to go back to 1951 for the first time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories were adapted for television audiences. An American production followed in 1954, before Peter Cushing played Holmes in 1965 while there was in a Soviet adaption (I know, that one surprised me too) that came in the late 70s.
It’s the 2010 remake that completes our latest entry, with Sherlock brought into the modern day by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Despite just 13 episodes since 2010, Sherlock has courted critical acclaim, it’s been up for Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globes, it’s been lauded by critics and fans alike and seen its star, Benedict Cumberbatch, become something of an international superstar. As an aside, have you seen the Graham Norton clip involving Benedict Cumberbatch and look-a-like otters?
5) Daredevil, Netflix: While technically not an explicit remake of the 2003 Ben Affleck film – that didn’t fare so well with critics and fans – Netflix’s Daredevil (2015) went a long way to doing the blind lawyer turned badass vigilante justice with Brit, Charlie Cox praised for his performance in the lead role.
6) Star Wars – The Clone Wars: If I have a chance to get Star Wars on one of these lists, damn it, I will take that opportunity. In 2003, Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack) brought Star Wars: The Clone Wars to the small screen, telling the stories of Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi between Episode II and Episode III. It was a critical triumph and even picked up a few Emmys. Yet, just three years after that series concluded, Dave Filoni developed a new version of The Clone Wars – set in the same time period – which equally proved a hit, running for 121 episodes and six seasons, while introducing us to Jedi Padawan, Ahsoka Tano who has won legions of fans, including Rosario Dawson who’s on record as stating she’d like to play her in a film.
7) Homeland, Channel 4: Based on the Israeli series, Hatufim, Showtime’s Homeland has become somewhat of a behemoth. Both tell the story of a prisoner of war returning from home turned potential terrorist. Homeland has been able to surpass the Israeli original with its focus on Carrie Mathison, played superbly by Claire Danes, an erratic, brilliant CIA agent battling bipolar disorder. Despite a few hiccups, Homeland has proven itself to be a remake of the highest order – earning awards, acclaim and adoration. It will conclude with an eighth season next year.
8) Westworld, HBO: A remake of the 1973 film of the same name, HBO’s Westworld tells the story of a fictional, technologically advanced wild west themed amusement park swamped with android hosts. Guests are able to live out their wildest fantasies – often depraved – without any fear of reprisal from the hosts.
You can obviously see what the eventual twist is, can’t you? The modern day remake has proven itself to be tremendous television, taking risks while featuring a raft of stellar performances from an immensely talented ensemble cast, including Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores. With fans flocking to the internet to pick apart the various mysteries the show offers and a raft of award nominations and wins, Westworld shows no signs of slowing down when it returns for a third season.
9) House of Cards, Netflix: In 1990, House of Cards aired on BBC One, telling the story of Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, as he schemes to become leader of the party and eventually, Prime Minister. Ian Richardson won a Best Actor BAFTA for his role as Urquhart, while Andrew Davies won an Emmy for outstanding writing in a miniseries. All in all, it did very well for itself. In 2013, Netflix took the action from Westminster to Washington DC as Frank Underwood (the now disgraced Kevin Spacey) puts together a plan – aided by wife, Claire (Robin Wright) – to get himself into a place of power after being passed over for a big promotion in the White House. It garnered critical acclaim and a wealth of Emmy nominations, becoming one of Netflix’s biggest hits. It will be back for a sixth and final season in November with Wright’s Claire promoted to the lead role after Spacey was axed due to sexual misconduct allegations.
10) The Office (US): Last but by no means least, we have The Office, spawned from the minds of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, detailing the day-to-day lives of office employees at the Wernham Hogg Paper Company led by Gervais’ David Brent. Despite running for just two series, The Office was beloved, hailed and said to be one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. Therefore, it looked ballsy to take the action to the States for a remake. However, Greg Daniels’ (veteran writer for Saturday Night Live and the Simpsons) adaptation for American audiences proved to worth the risk – eventually. After a first season with mixed reviews, The Office (US) won widespread acclaim for the next four, winning a Golden Globe for Steve Carell’s performance as Michael Scott – loosely based on Brett – along with four Emmys. Despite critical reception tailing off in later seasons, it still had firmly cemented its position as a remake done right.
* See also: Queer Eye, Twin Peaks, The X Files, The Muppets.
* Let us never speak of the American remakes of Fawlty Towers, The IT Crowd, The Young Ones (with the most nauseating title sequence of all time), Coupling and Skins. Or 24: Legacy, Dynasty, Prison Break, 90210, MacGyver, The Odd Couple, Charlie’s Angels. Ugh.