Monday, August 24, 2020

TV Picks - Week of August 24

Reboots are everywhere. And they're not going to stop coming.

Full House got fuller on Netflix. Lizzie McGuire and Punky Brewster are all grown up and want to show their faces. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air plans to return as a gritty drama. 

On the surface, reboots reek of laziness and banking on nostalgic emotion. As the great Sade once sang, "it's never as good as the first time" although she wasn't referring to TV.  

But a successful reboot can happen and actually be done quite well. The writing is the key. We all want to embrace familiar characters, but we don't want to feel like we're being played. 

Just the title of an old TV show is a powerful thing. It's exciting to revisit characters you fell in love with long ago and see sets you wished you could have lived in. TV freezes those shows in time, but when you go back in 2020 the actors have aged. Times have changed. It's not the way it was. 

Show creators have their work cut out for them, but it doesn't always have to be a disaster. The great ones rise to the challenge.

Battlestar Galactica

Didn't really care all that much for the 1978 original. The guy from Bonanza was now a Commander in a futuristic outer space drama? The Cylons were interesting bad guys, but the effects and most of the plot was a joke. I was 11 years old and this should have been right up my alley. It wasn't.

When SyFy (then The SciFi Channel) announced a reboot of the Adama gang, I was stupefied. They must have got the rights on the cheap. This reboot dug itself into a deeper hole announcing that the memorable male character of Starbuck was now going to be female. This prompted a full scale geek freakout before seeing a single frame of the new show.

What we all missed was that Ronald D. Moore was in charge, the guy who wrote some of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episodes. He knew how to create believable drama in outer space that didn't take itself too seriously.

Moore combined sexiness, special effects and good storytelling into a program many approached skeptically. Forget sci-fi, Battlestar Galactica is one of the best dramas I've seen over the past 20 years. The stories are powerful and the acting is top notch. It made you forget the cheesiness of the first time around. NBC's Peacock streaming service plans to reboot the series yet again, with Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail in the producer's chair. Here's wishing them luck.


It's one thing to top an old show that was pretty good in the first place. How about a beloved Coen Brothers comedy that won the Oscar for Best Screenplay? 

I went into a new take on Fargo in full cynical mode. Who would have the audacity to mess with this quirky award winning film? The Coen Brothers aren't writing it? What exactly can be done with Fargo?

Billy Bob Thornton answered all of those questions during a fabulous first season. The next season goes back to 1979 with a different cast and location. Season three changes everything up again. Yet creator Noah Hawley makes it feel like different chapters in a novel you just can't put down.

The fourth season is just around the corner, and I have no idea what to expect plotwise. I do expect Chris Rock and company to be in one heck of a predicament on one of the best dramas on television.

Battlestar. Fargo. It can be done. One of my picks this week shows how you do it right in a different kind of way. My other pick is one best remembered for its past. 


Cobra Kai (NETFLIX)

Thursday, August 27 (Seasons 1 & 2)

Some classic films should remain untouched. The Karate Kid belongs on that list. I was a big fan of Daniel-san taking on Johnny Lawrence and the bullies in his new Southern California home leading to the infamous crane kick at the All Valley Karate Tournament.

In Cobra Kai, the name of the evil dojo that shows no mercy, Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) are all grown up, but their adult lives naturally end up conflicting with one another. Their characters are multi-dimensional, and it's surprisingly not so easy to decide who to root for here.

The creators mix in a ton of nostalgia from the first film and sequels in the right amounts. The lighthearted tone of the original is all over this series. You can tell it was created by Karate Kid fans. Pat Morita is commemorated affectionately. Flashbacks use just enough footage from the film to bring you back, but not keep you there. 

New teens on the block play out the current drama, but the senseis are the touchstones of this sweet, funny and tremendously entertaining return to SoCal karate.

Originally on YouTube, Netflix snapped up the first two seasons and will be premiering a third one shortly. Household chores will never be the same.


Britney and Madonna. The Lady Gaga meat dress. Miley twerking.

There was a time when this awards show created news instead of simply celebrating past accomplishments. The MTV Video Music Awards were must see TV – something outrageous and headline making was going to happen, it was just a matter of who did it. 

Those days are gone. The VMAs are as significant as music videos are these days. No one really cares. MTV hardly plays any music. Everyone is there for show and to manufacture those aforementioned moments. Maybe that's the way it has always been and the audience has just grown to be more cynical. 

Add the pandemic into the mix, and there's no reason to check out this awards show. You're better off remembering the time when you wanted your MTV.


If there's quality TV that I'm missing, please let me know.

Wear a mask. Stay healthy, cool and safe.


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