which classic tv shows are due a revival?

With The X-Files returning, a Twin Peaks revival in the works and a sort-of-Friends reunion about to happen, it feels like all our favourite TV shows are poised to come back. But is this always a good idea? Here we debate the pros and cons of...

by Nick Levine
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27 January 2016, 10:52pm

The Simple Life
This US reality show doubled up as a classic fish-out-of-water comedy: what happens when you take a pair of privileged LA socialites and make them work for a living? It probably shouldn't have been as watchable as it was, but childhood friends Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie had genuine chemistry - at least to begin with - and played their roles to perfection. "What does that mean, 'soup kitchen'?" a deadpan Richie asked in an early episode. The Simple Life ended after its fifth season in 2007, but Richie has since returned to reality TV with her VH1 show Candidly Nicole and Hilton's kitsch appeal seems to grow stronger with every year. A new series would have to factor in Richie's family (she's now a married mother of two) but this could potentially work in the show's favour. After all, wouldn't you like to watch Paris and Nicole take over a Parent-Teacher Association somewhere in the midwest? Let's get #BringBackTheSimpleLife trending on Twitter.

Sex and the City
Darren Star's provocative comedy-drama was one of the few TV shows that actually got better with time. Early episodes could feel clunky and too focused on Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie, but Sex and the City gradually evolved into a must-watch ensemble piece that tackled serious issues like breast cancer and senility without losing its racy U.S.P. It's a shame the show's reputation has since been dented by a pair of ropey spin-off films, but there's no reason why Sex and the City can't shine again in tightly-scripted small screen installments. Are Carrie and Big still together? How will Samantha deal with reaching the big six-oh? Has Miranda started her own law firm yet? Does Charlotte still live in Manhattan's most expensively tasteful apartment? As long as the exec producers promise to keep the main characters in NYC at all times, a six-episode revival series could be a blast.

Daria
Though it ended 14 years ago, this brilliant Beavis and Butt-Head spin-off remains remarkably fresh. "As far as I can make out," the title character once observed, "edgy occurs when middlebrow, middle-aged profiteers are looking to suck the energy - not to mention spending money - out of the youth culture." Spot on, D! Smart, sharp-tongued and often standoffish, Daria Morgendorff was a role model for awkward teens everywhere whose ability to call out high school bullshit made her a '90s feminist icon. One of the great things about animated sitcoms is no one ever needs to age, so Daria could return in 2016 as an eternal 17-year-old still skulking around the fictional suburban town of Lawndale. Imagine the pithy things she'd have to say about contemporary issues like cultural appropriation, transgender visibility and the gender pay gap.

Dawson's Creek
Any return to Dawson's Creek would presumably take place without Michelle Williams, whose character Jen was - spoiler alert - killed off in the show's finale. It could be cute to see James Van Der Beek's Dawson, Katie Holmes' Joey and Joshua Jackson's Pacey reconvene in Capeside for a boozy soul-baring weekend, but this reunion would need to be kept brief. Part of the charm of Dawson's Creek was the way it showed teenage characters speaking with the honed vocabs and highly-developed self-awareness of grown-ups. "Our lives have been so intertwined that I sometimes feel like you partially invented me, Dawson, and that scares me so much," Joey once confided. Hearing the same characters talk like this now would be less novel; they'd just sound like any other thirtysomething who's had a lot of therapy.

My So-Called Life
This mid-90s teen drama starring a young Claire Danes and Jared Leto has become legendary partly because it was so short. Critics and connoisseurs loved My So-Called Life because it offered a more realistic depiction of adolescent angst than any other TV show, but it failed to attract a mass audience and got cancelled after one season. Trying to revive it 20 years later would be tricky - Danes is now killing it in Homeland, while Leto has an Oscar and his own rock band. At the time, many of us were willing Danes' Angela Chase to get it on with Leto's dreamy Jordan Catalano, but seeing them together in 2016 would be kind of anti-climactic. Some TV characters just aren't meant to grow up.

The O.C.
Set amidst the affluent Cali-glamour of Newport Beach, this sleek teen drama started brilliantly, but tailed off so badly in season three that even season four's impressive return to form couldn't save it. It's definitely a show with unfinished business, but if The O.C. were given a second chance, there'd be no place for Mischa Barton's character Marissa, who died at the end of season three. For this reason a partial reboot built around Marissa's younger sister Kaitlin could work better than a straight revival. Adam Brody's Seth, Benjamin McKenzie's Ryan and Rachel Bilson's Summer could all make occasional guest appearances, and Marissa and Kaitlin's fabulous scheming mother Julie Cooper could take a central role as a couture-clad troublemaker. Let's give it a working title of The O.C. 2.0.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Groundbreaking is an overused word, but Joss Whedon's fantasy series deserves it. Buffy showed a fierce but flawed female lead kicking ass in a way only guys normally get to do; it featured the first ever lesbian relationship on US network TV; and it was consistently ambitious in form: one episode had virtually no dialogue; another was performed as a musical. Since the show ended in 2003, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer has continued in comic book form, but Sarah Michelle Gellar has always ruled out a TV return. "I think at this point I'm a little old," she said last year. Actually, it would be refreshing and empowering to see a woman approaching 40 fronting an action-led TV series, but a reboot featuring a new teenage vampire slayer seems much more likely.

Popworld
Let's not disrespect Alex Zane and Alexa Chung, who had the thankless task of taking over a show that had become defined by its hosts, but if Popworld were to return, it would have to be with original presenters Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver. During their five-year-run, they managed to turn this seemingly innocuous Sunday morning pop show into something unique and subversive. Who can forget the time Amstell offered Gwen Stefani cheese on the red carpet, or when Oliver interviewed Lemar from the other side of a car park just so they could call the segment "Lemar from Afar"? Popworld is sorely missed in 2016 - if you're still not convinced, just imagine the fun they'd have with today's more questionable pop stars like Meghan Trainor and Jessie J. Amstell would probably be reluctant to revisit past glories, so let's hope Oliver has some dirt on him to use as leverage.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
This 90s sitcom is so fondly remembered that even last week's stinging criticism of Will Smith by Janet Hubert a.k.a. Aunt Vivian can't sully its memory. Last year it was reported that Smith's production company was working on a new version of the show that would relocate the action to present-day LA while keeping the feel of the original series. Smith isn't planning to appear in the new Fresh Prince, apparently, which is a shrewd move because he's now too big a star now not to overshadow it. That said, there's no reason why Alfonso Ribeiro shouldn't return as Will's stuffy cousin Carlton Banks. He might even make sweaters worn over the shoulders into a thing again.

Friends
Obviously it's tempting. The One Where They Bring Back Friends for a Reunion Movie, perhaps, or The One Where Netflix Pays a Fortune for a Friends Revival Series. But there are too many good reasons why it just shouldn't happen. While wise-cracking Chandler and neurotic Monica could work quite well as middle-aged characters, kooky Phoebe and slow-witted Joey might come off a bit sad. If a new Friends film or series didn't try to update the show's style, it would feel like a throwback, but would it really be Friends without the fake-looking sets and cheesy '90s laughter track? The show's co-creator Marta Kauffman summed up the problem with any kind of revival last year when she said: "Friends was about that time in your life when your friends are your family, and once you have a family, there's no need anymore." Best to let it go, comforted by the knowledge that you've got 236 classic episodes to re-watch.

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Text Nick Levine

Tagged:
TV
x-files
revival
FRIENDS
Comeback
dawsons creek
The O.C.
Daria
Twin Peaks
My So-Called Life
buffy the vampire slayer
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
popworld
simple life