*Ah man. When we heard Blair Underwood was going to star in a new version of the old series, “Ironside,” we were so happy that we considered calling a staff meeting to celebrate.
Good thing we didn’t, because the show was dropped after only four episodes in.
TV execs have been busy behind the scenes trying to revive shows like “The Munster’s” and “The Rockford Files” too, but those plans never made it to “go.” Maybe because it was still too close to the 2011 failure of ABC’s new version of the old “Charlie’s Angels.”
But it’s 2013, and now we hear mumbling about NBC trying to revive “Murder She Wrote,” and we can’t help but wonder if this is a good idea.
Hmmm…what would Angela Lansberry say?
“I think its a mistake to call it “Murder She Wrote,” said the actress who starred in the long-running CBS drama told the Associated Press.
And therein may lie the problem. What’s in a name … history, for one thing.
Networks seem to be making an attempt to capitalize on the history of success generated by these old TV shows; afterall, “Ironside” ran from 1967-1975; and audiences stayed tuned in to ” Charlie’s Angels” for 110 episodes, from 1976 to 1981. And how long did Madame Lansberry hold it down on “Murder She Wrote?” The actress starred in the role of mystery writer/amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher for a whopping 12 seasons, from 1984 to 1996.
So why is it these remakes can’t quite last beyond a month? And why do these networks keep trying their hand at this?
The short answer: Brand value.
The problem: Target audience.
Hel-Lo. This is where the desired under 40 crowd does not want to go. They are not checking for a reboot of anything old. CBS caught on to this early. The relative success of their new version of ”Hawaii Five-O” (1968-1980) is due to their smart decision to move it to Friday night – where the older crowd hangs out.
Does this mean there is no future in the past, as far as bringing new versions of these old shows go?
Not necessarily. There is hope yet. Let’s revisit that earlier question, “What’s in a name?”
Now consider changing that name. Call your new versions of the old shows by another name. This way, they have no history to live up to.
So if you want to create a show about a writer and amateur sleuth, do it. Just don’t call it “Murder She Wrote.”
Problem solved. We hope…