Top Six Worst Telly Reinventions of 2008

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

OTB’s Alejandro Ahmadi Gestoso takes a look at the top six worst telly reinventions of 2008 and explains just why they represent a complete lack of innovation about these days…




Reinvention is fast becoming to television what oil is to the 21st century: the pillar on which its gross economy stands. Television producers with big budgets and small intelligence are relying more and more on series and movie remakes to bring in the revenue. Recent attempts to resurrect old franchises – the Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Star Trek, Gladiators – have become as widespread as the recession and about as successful as the government’s attempts to stem it.

But wait, I hear you bleating lambs say, what about the new Batman movies? Weren’t they shining examples of repackaged action-adventure excellence? And I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my dwindling number of narrow-minded friends, f*ck-witted sycophants that they all are: reinvention is all well and good but it’s a poor substitute for innovation.

It seems that imagination – that thing that was once in as high demand as that triple-breasted bargirl from Total Recall – is draining faster from the media industry than blood from the grazed arm of a haemophiliac.

That said, I don’t wish to imply that innovation is completely absent from remakes; even they require a degree of innovation to make them unique (shows like Smallville demand to be counted here). What irks me worse than haemorrhoids are the remakes that simply take the original idea, slap on a few young, pretty twenty-something actors, and write some scripts with more techno-babble than sense, and expect it to go on for twelve-thousand seasons.

Here I’ve compiled my top 6 worst remakes of recent years.






6. THE BIONIC WOMAN

At the time this series represented something of a British coup. Michelle Ryan – best known for her role as Zoe Slater in EastEnders – was cast as the iconic Jamie Sommers aka The Bionic Woman.

Unfortunately, after an impressive pilot episode that blended excellent storyline with fembot martial arts and slick Matrix-ish special effects, it all went wrong. Like a drunkard after a vindaloo, the series decided to sh*t all over itself. Poor scripting, weak characters, clichéd plot, and, above all, Michelle’s Jason Statham-esque American accent, led this show to be cancelled after a measly 8 episodes.

Bionic Woman? This series was barely a diode.






5. JOURNEYMAN

The series revolves around Dan Vesser, a journalist living in San Francisco with his wife Katie and young son Zack. For some unknown reason, one day he begins jumping backward in time. He soon learns that each series of jumps follows the life of a person whose destiny he was meant to change –

Hold up, hold up. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

A simple mathematics lesson should clear things up: Add a science experiment gone wrong; substitute ‘jumps’ for ‘leaps’; divide the ratings by 2, and multiply the number of seasons it ran for by five and you have…

Quantum Leap.

That’s right. Dan Vesser is basically Sam Beckett, only a 2-dimensional version that would even make Euclid proud.

I take this as a personal insult because, in my opinion, Quantum Leap represents one of the finest sci-fi shows in history: believable characters you could empathise with and plotlines lambent with twists and ingenuity. To have a sub-par show like Journeyman basically cannibalise it simply highlights the wider problem of remakes outrunning imagination.

The show was cancelled after 13 episodes; I suppose Dan Vesser should’ve seen it coming.






4. ELI STONE

Greg Berlanti, who co-wrote the show with Marc Guggenheim, described Eli Stone in Variety magazine as “A Field of Dreams-type drama set in a law firm where a thirty-something attorney, whose name is the title of the show, begins having larger than life visions that compel him to do out-of-the-ordinary things.?

The reason for these “visions? is an inoperable brain aneurysm. Now, excise the aneurysm and the whole Dead Zone notion of these visions being of the future and possibly divinely inspired, and what you have is the male response to Ally McBeal.

Eli Stone even sees singer George Michael every so often which, admittedly, does offer intrigue, but not after the first three hundred times.

Now, I happen to despise Ally McBeal because, to me, it seemed to be the television equivalent of a nervous breakdown; however, Eli Stone went one better and actually gave me a brain aneurysm.

The show was cancelled after 2 seasons.









3. FRINGE

The trouble with producing a groundbreaking show like Lost is that anything that comes after will find it difficult to measure up. Like a man’s new girlfriend whose ex was a seven-foot high rugby player with a penis so long he had to wrap around his right leg, or, say, parents who raised a genius only for the second born to have the IQ of an amoeba.

Fringe is that new boyfriend, that second child.

The show has been described as a cross between The X-Files, Altered States, The Twilight Zone, and Dark Angel. I smell a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none here. But then, I suppose, the fault is mine. Because the second I discovered Joshua Jackson was in it (aka Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) I should’ve put Fringe on my TV blacklist.

Currently in its first season, I give this show 2 maybe 3 tops, and only because it’s you J.J.








2. STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE

The latest in a long line of incestuous remakes was set before the dawn of the Federation (yes, before James T. Kirk) and saw Scott Bakula take the role of Captain Jonathan Archer.

The early promise of the series – boasting intriguing plotlines like the ‘temporal cold war’ and the volatile relationship between Vulcans and humans – failed to materialise into satisfying story arcs that tied in with staple Star Trek mythology (the temporal cold war, for example, ended with a ridiculous alien-Nazi World War II double episode that made about as much sense as Marmite.

The tragedy here was that producers and scriptwriters had the chance to delve into points of interest – the origin of the Borg, say, or Q, and instead they introduced new races like the Xindi, who were pointless and generally annoying.

It went on for 4 seasons, after which it boldly went to the galaxy of cancelled.








1. BIG BROTHER

Channel Four seemed to have missed the point of Big Brother.

George Orwell’s novel 1984 provided an uncompromising vision of a dystopian future that was at once mesmerising and terrifying. It trounced conventions in the name of imagination’s right to express and didn’t care about political correctness.

Under that formula, Channel Four’s version of Big Brother had the potential to revolutionise television as we knew it. Instead they grouped together society’s refuse in a house, made us watch them jump through hoops (sometimes literally) and then rewarded the winner with two years worth of the average person’s working salary, not to mention that tedious Geordie voiceover who should be thrown into Room 101.

But that’s not the worst of it.

When points of interest do finally arise out of the otherwise brain-dead Big Brother Household, things that reflect wider socio-political issues of our time, like Jade’s infamous racism toward Shilpa Shetty, what do Channel Four do? They censor it.

The question is why? This is reality TV, not the Ministry of Truth.

The show has gone on for 17 series (including all that Celebrity nonsense) and will go on for 17 more, unless we put a stop to it.

You have been warned.




By Alejandro Ahmadi Gestoso

Mark S says:

I quite enjoyed Enterprise. I also enjoy watching Fringe. Let’s not forget they’re throw away entertainment not Shakespear.

Amy says:

I agree completely with your assessment of the shame which was Star Trek: Enterprise. The idea of a prequel series establishing how everything came to be sounded amazing and for the first few episodes it seemed like it was starting to be, but then it quickly became apparent that for some reason they had taken the few bad points of the other series (e.g. the almost complete invisibility of the 100’s of other crew members) and completely thrown away most the good aspects.

The morality component – handled so well in other series (particularly The Next Generation) – became vomit-inducing, cliche PC-ism and by about episode 3, the backstory which the series was meant to establish was pretty much thrown out the window in favour of storylines which completely contradicted all the other series and focused on aliens never ever mentioned in previous series, whilst ignoring most the races that previous series do feature. Then a few out-of-place lines would be thrown in to tie-in to the other series in an extremely forced and artificial sounding manner.

I sincerely hope they make a new series of Star Trek, with the start of the first episode explaining that the Star Trek: Enterprise series was all just some sort of horrible dream and then do the show the justice it deserves.

Finally, yes, the “Nazi’s ally with evil aliens and takeover world” episodes are down in my book also as the worst ever by far.

Martin says:

Wow. I totally disagree D. Somers. As well as your below the belt remark about this guy trying to be a poor man’s Charlie Brooker your comment is also totally overreacting. This is a funny piece about how some shows out now are remarkably similar to some that came before.

Just indulge your fun side and yu might actually enjoy this article for the entertaining piece that it is.

D.Somers says:

A pointless exercise in poor journalism. The writer has missed the mark by several yards in his attempt to find tenuous links between one obscure US series and other “classic” series. Eli Stone = Ali McBeal, you might as well say that Eli Stone is the white versionof roots the connections are so tenuous.

And I thought this was about remakes? WTF has Big Brother got to do with TV remakes? If we’re going down this road let’s do an article on worst TV adaptations. It’s crass, it’s annoying but is not a remake and the only thing that BB had to do with 1984 was its title and the constant observation of contestants.

Stop trying to be a poor man’s Charlie Brooker, your not up to it. Try and look at the great remakes we are seeing, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, Survivors, hell even the new Captain Scarlett.