Please Stop It With the Remakes

As if 90210 and Melrose Place weren't enough, The CW has announced plans to update more old TV shows for new audiences. We say: Enough already!

From the Ominous Quotes Department... Dawn Ostroff, president of the CW, presented at the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday and issued the following chilling statement about the future of remakes of old shows on her network:

"There are other shows we're looking at, but we can't talk about it yet."

Yikes! Other than the impending mystery remakes, she was referring to the returning 90210 redux -- a turgid and cynical affair -- and the upcoming Melrose Place regurgitation that will be torturing us come fall. And there will be more! Remake upon remake upon remake, because they have preloaded marketability and they don't require much creative heavy lifting.

While The CW has tried some original programming -- fare set in places as diverse as South Africa (Life is Wild) and the demon-stalked back roads of America (Supernatural) -- they've mostly made their brand name with pre-tested cultural properties like the Gossip Girl books and, now, lukewarm rehashes of old 90s-retro TV shows. And if ain't all that broke, why not keep piling similar programming on top of it until the whole thing collapses under its own terrific weight??

The root of the problem is that the people in charge of remaking these shows often can't quite figure out what tone to set. 90210 started off as an annoyingly zippy, iPod-shuffled slap in the face to fans of the original certified classic. Since that didn't really work -- no one talked much about the boring, trendy plots or the show's tabloid-ready stars like Shenae Grimes and Whatshisface McGee -- they've now taken the show in a completely new, equally ridiculous direction. There's arson and pregnancy and other manic things!

What the CW overlooked in their mad dash to make new Nine-Oh hip and soundtrack heavy at all costs was that we liked the original's ham-handed moralizing and issue-of-the-day preaching. While Donna, Dylan, and the gang may have been guilty of some egregious sins (those flat-tops! those leggings!), they at least never pandered to or commodified their audience. The new 90210 is all product and very little substance, and no amount of winky Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez references or Brenda cameos can cover that up.

The same can be said, nearly sight unseen, about the upcoming Melrose reboot. What with its silly, tawdry posters and Ashlee Simpson casting and all. It sounds crazy to say about a Darren Star show, but the original Melrose seemed awfully organic compared to this focus-grouped mishmash of hardbodies and too-soon 90s nostalgia.

This is all to say that Ms. Ostroff's quote makes us really worried and more than a little annoyed. What other barely-buried relics might they be looking to dig up for lazy chunks of profit? Some single camera, dreadfully snarky Saved By the Bell zombie? A sexed-up revisit to the melancholy Pittsburgh of the masterful My So-Called Life? We shudder at the thought.

What do you think? Are you into the idea of dredging up old ghosts? Or does it seem as fruitless to you as it does to us?



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