They say there are only 7 stories in the world…. which probably explains why we have so many remakes on our TV horizon.
Tonight The Block returns after an absence of six years.
First appearing on screens in 2003 to staggering ratings, it was repeated in 2004 with almost as much success.
In 2010 Nine has replicated its attributes to a tee and is crossing its fingers that the genre hasn’t detoured too much from a fascination for bickering hot couples giving apartments a makeover.
Later this year Nine will return to The National IQ Test, another hit stunt that attracted bumper ratings in 2002 and 2003. Eddie McGuire returns as chief ringmaster, this time in a state vs. state battle.
TEN has announced a new drama inspired by the success of Prisoner, which aired from 1979 – 1986. While not strictly a “remake,” Inside Out hopes to strike gold with the dramatic hotbed of life in a women’s prison.
Next year it will air the US remake of Hawaii Five-0 featuring Australia’s Alex O’Loughlin. The original ran from 1968 -1980. The new CBS version retains the iconic theme tune, which has been updated. The new Melrose Place will also air on Eleven.
Seven’s X Factor is also something of a remake. The show first aired in Australia in 2005, but struggled to match Australian Idol‘s success at the time. Meanwhile Iron Chef is in production in Melbourne. My Kitchen Rules varied the format of 2004’s My Restaurant Rules and discovered a hit.
Don’t Stop Believing is an original format for 2011 but it will have elements of Glee, Young Talent Time and Battle of the Choirs within it.
The US is already remaking Torchwood, Outnumbered, Spooks, The Inbetweeners, CHiPS, Charlie’s Angels, Top Gear, The Rockford Files and a sequel to Dallas.
Supernatural has an animated version in production. V was a hit back in 1983 before its current revival.
Australian shows are also having remakes or formats on-sold. Wilfred will have a US version on FX, while Underbelly is to be applied to US crime gangs. This week The Gruen Transfer also announced its plans to have territorial versions sold by format company Fox LOOK.
Of course, selling format rights is a different concept to a strict Remake (Kath & Kim USA anyone?). Then there are”Reimaginings” –Battlestar Galactica is a prime example, shifting from its kitschy popcorn adventure to a darker, noirish tone under Australian director Michael Rymer. Doctor Who, under Russell T. Davies, is another. Both have been wild successes.
Networks favour Remakes over new content because it minimises risk of failure. The audience already knows the brand before it begins.
But few Remakes ever have real longevity (hello Gladiators), let alone critical buzz. It’s also hard to think of Australian shows that have been revived or remade and continued as a success. Good News Week is a rare exception -will Hey Hey it’s Saturday match it?
So what’s next on the Remake roster? It’s a Knockout is often floated by fans. If The Block works will it be time to revive other oldies? Dare anyone mention Temptation Island, Man O Man, Perfect Match, Battle of the Sexes, Family Feud, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, The Mole, Pot of Gold, Countdown?
And it’s surely only a matter of time until it’s we’re all being asked to “Come on Down” once again?
Television is cyclical. It’s a Wheel of Fortune.