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#TV Revivals Keep Getting Greenlit … and Canceled

TV’s IP fetish is no coincidence. Recognizable titles and stars can guarantee strong initial tune-in off of modest marketing. But long-term results are lackluster. Just look at the past decade’s worth of revivals. Different from reboots or remakes, risky ventures in their own right, a revival features original castmembers of long-departed series revisiting characters for whom there’s an assumed appetite. Viewers aren’t often as hungry as studio brass would like. The average life span of recent revivals is three seasons, while their originals averaged eight-year runs. So as Paramount+ kicks off October by nixing one revived comedy (iCarly, starring Miranda Cosgrove, above) and attempting to mount another (Frasier with Kelsey Grammer, which premiered Oct. 12), The Hollywood Reporter examines 10 case studies from this revivals wave and where they went right … or horribly wrong.

Dallas
Original: 14 seasons (1978-1991)
Revival: 3 seasons (2012-2014)

Dallas

Dallas

Gene Trindl/CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy of TBS

Sitcoms continue to drive the revival trend, but Dallas deserves credit for kicking it off. The new spin on the iconic primetime soap was initially pay dirt for TNT, but interest waned as it struggled to marry old and new characters and the painful snip of cord-cutting prompted the cable channel to pull back from scripted TV.

Night Court
Original:
9 seasons (1984-1992)
Revival: 1 season (so far) (2023-present)

Night Court

Night Court

Elizabeth Morris/NBC/Warner Bros. Television

Setting a record for most watched broadcast comedy premiere in five years isn’t as exciting as it once was. But the 7.5 million tune-in for Night Court, with John Larroquette (one of the few surviving original cast), means a few more years of this trend. Ratings sank throughout the run, but NBC quickly ordered a season two.

Full House/Fuller House
Original: 8 seasons (1987-1995)
Revival: 5 seasons (2016-2020)

Fuller House

Fuller House

Michael Yarish/Netflix

Fixing life’s problems in tight half-hour episodes, Netflix’s Full House retread was more dramatic off camera. Creator Jeff Franklin was fired for accusations of being a jerk, and, after 75 episodes, not a single Olsen twin came back to an otherwise complete reunion. None of that bothered the streamer. Fuller House was huge with younger viewers. 

Roseanne/The Conners 
Original:
9 seasons (1988-1997)
Revival: 6 seasons (so far) (2018-present)

Rosanne and The Connors

Rosanne and The Connors

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images; ABC/Robert Trachtenberg

Almost 20 million viewers — in 2018! — turned on ABC to watch Roseanne Barr’s return. She could have saved broadcast TV, but her racist Twitter habits killed those chances … and her character on the show. Once Barr was contractually expelled, Roseanne rebranded as The Conners; it continues to perform solidly without her.

Saved by the Bell
Original: 4 seasons (1989-1993)
Revival: 2 seasons (2020-2021)

Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell

Trae Patton/Peacock

They got most of the band back together, found a writer with an A+ comedy pedigree (30 Rock alum Tracey Wigfield) and managed to win over critics with subversive social commentary, but the new Saved by the Bell never stood a chance on early-days Peacock. A few years could have made all the difference.

Mad About You
Original
: 8 seasons (1992-1999)
Revival: 1 season (2019)

Mad About You

Mad About You

Courtesy; BROOK PIFER/Sony Pictures TV

Oof. This one had everything working against it. The new Mad About You had to ret-con its divisive original NBC finale, win back critics who cried “Revival overload!” at news of its return and find an audience on Spectrum — a platform the vast majority of Americans don’t have. It never stood a chance.

Will & Grace
Original
: 8 seasons (1998-2006)
Revival: 3 seasons (2017-2020)

Will and Grace

Will & Grace

Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images; Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Complete cast? Check. Strong premiere audience? Yep, nearly 11 million viewers. Lasting power? Not so much. NBC expected another long run for the landmark queer comedy, but ratings waned 70 percent in the first six months. Before the third season aired, star Sean Hayes announced that it would be the last. For real this time.

Murphy Brown
Original
: 10 seasons (1988-1998)
Revival: 1 season (2018-2019)

Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown

Courtesy Everett Collection; Jojo Whilden/CBS

Creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen assumed their fictional TV anchor could skewer the Trump presidency much like they did the first Bush administration. What they didn’t anticipate was that much of their original CBS audience had either gone MAGA or, you know, died. The new Murphy Brown was DOA.

Sex and the City / And Just Like That
Original
: 6 seasons (1998-2004)
Revival: 2 seasons (so far) (2021-present)

And Just Like That

And Just Like That

Courtesy of HBO

Love it or love to hate it, this new spin on Sex and the City is a commercial success — ranking as Max’s most streamed original series to date. Some of its harshest critics seemed to soften their hot takes in season two, but they’ll have a chance to change their minds again. It’s been renewed. 

That’s So Raven / Raven’s Home 
Original: 4 seasons (2003-2007)
Revival: 6 seasons (so far) (2017-present)

Ravens Home

Raven’s Home

Eddy Chen/Disney Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

Perhaps only Raven herself would have had “short-lived The View panelist revisits role of teenage psychic for the only update to outlast its original” on her revival bingo card. Raven-Symoné’s Raven’s Home outpaced childhood gig That’s So Raven by two seasons — and another isn’t off the table yet.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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