Even in this age of revivals and reboots, nostalgia only gets you so far, apparently!
Yes, we have new versions of Quantum Leap, True Lies, and Pretty Little Liars coming to our TV screens, but network executives have killed off other highly-anticipated remakes and revivals in recent years.
In September 2019, HBO Max ordered a two-season, 24-episode reboot of The Boondocks, the 2000s-era animated Adult Swim show about a Black family that moves into a white suburb. Nearly two and a half years later, however, Deadline confirmed that HBO Max wasn’t moving forward with the reboot.
Amy Heckerling’s hit 1995 film about popular Beverly Hills teens has already gotten one TV treatment, the 1996 sitcom of the same name. By October 2019, however, CBS TV Studios was putting a dramatic spin on the source material, for a show described as “a baby pink and bisexual blue-tinted, tiny sunglasses-wearing, oat milk latte and Adderall-fueled look at what happens when queen bee Cher disappears and her lifelong No. 2 Dionne steps into Cher’s vacant Air Jordans.” But Peacock passed on the reboot in May 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Craig T. Nelson’s football coach character from this ’90s ABC sitcom could have gotten another moment on the gridiron in the reboot NBC ordered in March 2015, which would have had Coach Hayden Fox leave his retirement to serve as assistant coach to his adult son. That August, however, NBC called off the project, with Variety reporting that the reboot was getting mixed reviews internally at the network.
With the 1999 teen drama film Cruel Intentions remaining a cultural touchpoint a generation later, NBC ordered a pilot for a sequel series in February 2016, with Sarah Michelle Gellar signing on the dotted line to reprise the role of the scheming Kathryn Merteuil. In the new story, Kathryn would be vying for control of both the family business and her nephew, the son of Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon’s characters in the film. Development on the project was dead by that December, but Deadline reported in October 2021 that a new reboot was in the works at IMDb TV (now Freevee).
Field of Dreams
If you build it, they will… cancel it before it airs. Yes, NBC opted in June 2022 to bench its proposed reboot of the 1989 Oscar-nominated film of the same name, which starred Kevin Costner as a farmer who builds a baseball field on his Iowa corn farm and brings legendary players back to life. NBC had given a straight-to-series order to the reboot in August 2021, with The Good Place creator Michael Schur serving as writer and executive producer.
How I Met Your Dad
How I Met Your Father made it to the screen on Hulu, but nearly a decade ago, another spin on CBS’ hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother was in the works. How I Met Your Dad would have starred Greta Gerwig and Nicholas D’Agosto as the fated lovers, with Anders Holm playing Gerwig’s onscreen ex-husband and Meg Ryan voicing the older version of her character. CBS ordered a pilot of HIMYD in November 2013 but passed on it the following May. Nina Tassler, then the network’s president of entertainment, said that “there were elements of the pilot that didn’t work out,” per Deadline.
ABC’s venerated 1986 legal drama nearly got a 21st-century update, with ABC ordering a sequel series in October 2021. Blair Underwood and Corbin Bernsen returned to play their litigator characters from the original, who would have joined a new generation of lawyers at their firm. But news broke in May 2022 that ABC had canceled the project, with entertainment president Craig Erwich explaining to Deadline days later that the pilot “just did not come together as we had hoped it would.”
Before Hilary Duff joined How I Met Your Father, she was attached to a Disney+ reboot of Lizzie McGuire, the early-2000s Disney Channel comedy about a teen whose inner monologue gets outed by an animated alter-ego. The reboot was in development by August 2019, but by December 2020, it was no longer going forward. Duff later told Women’s Health that she had disagreed with Disney+ brass about making Lizzie more mature. “She had to be 30 years old doing 30-year-old things,” Duff explained. “She didn’t need to be doing bong rips and having one-night stands all the time, but it had to be authentic. I think they got spooked.”
Murder, She Wrote
In October 2013, NBC announced a reboot of Murder, She Wrote, with Octavia Spencer following in the footsteps of Angela Lansbury, who starred in the long-running 1984 original on CBS. Both versions centered on a mystery writer who gets involved in local murder investigations, but that’s about where the similarities ended. Nevertheless, Lansbury told the Associated Press in November 2013 she wished NBC would pick a different title, saying that “Murder, She Wrote will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person.” Turns out, Lansbury didn’t have to worry: The project had been axed by January 2014.
New York Undercover
ABC nearly got in business with procedural king Dick Wolf: The network ordered a reboot of his New York Undercover in January 2019, with Malik Yoba and Luna Lauren Vélez later agreeing to return to their parts from the 1990s Fox police drama. The network dropped the project that May, but in October 2020, Deadline reported that Peacock was eying a new incarnation of New York Undercover.
Fans of this ABC police procedural were, yes, blue in August 2019 when they learned that the network wasn’t moving forward with the sequel series it ordered in October 2018. The updated NYPD Blue would have starred Fabien Frankel as Theo Sipowicz, as the character investigated the murder of his father, Andy Sipowicz, Dennis Franz’s detective from the 1993 original. Kim Delaney and Bill Brochtrup, meanwhile, would have reprised their roles. Karey Burke, then ABC’s entertainment president, told TVLine that the creative team behind the sequel series “did as good a job as one can do with something that is that revered” but “the main problem was that the bar was so high.”