It feels like every other day there’s news of a network rebooting a vintage series, whether it’s The A-Teamor Full House or Fantasy Island. The increasing dependence on recycling well-worn stories has become a bit of a joke, and it’s hard not to roll your eyes every time another reboot is announced. But maybe we’d have a better attitude if the networks were making more interesting choices: Like reviving shows that were gone too soon, or lesser-known series that never made it to syndication or Netflix.
Here’s our wish list for TV series we actually want to see back on the air, in some form or another:
1) Murphy Brown
This sitcom about a 40-year-old recovering alcoholic journalist blurred the lines between scripted television and political commentary, famously inspiring one of Dan Quayle’s most boneheaded comments. No one has seen it since 1998 since it’s streaming exactly nowhere. If we had something like this today we probably wouldn’t need John Oliver. (JK, we need him.)
2) Mad About You
Before it was a bougie punchline, Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt played a (mostly) happily married couple on NYC’s Upper West Side; he was a documentarian and she was a PR executive. They were funny, angsty, and unaware of their privilege. The season finale was set two decades into the future, when the now-divorced couple reunited at a screening of their daughter’s documentary. The daughter was played by Janeane Garafulo. The work is already done, let’s just get the cameras rolling.
3)Tell Me You Love Me
This HBO drama about four couples at various stages of life and commitment may have needed a bit of retooling, but HBO gave up way too soon. There was no problem with the story; it was an issue of chemistry. Let’s start over with more compatible actors. (But keep Adam Scott.)
4) Diff’rent Strokes
First, let’s spell “Different” the normal way, unless someone can explain what that apostrophe is about. Next, let’s be more attentive to the emotional well-being of the child actors. And what about switching up the demographics? Like, Ms. Drummond is a single, wealthy black woman who takes some underprivileged children under her wing. The housekeeper is a white dude. Did we lose you?
5) Mad Men
Who ever said all good things must come to an end? (Besides Nelly Furtado.) AMC should just admit it made a huge mistake by letting Mad Men go, and bring it back in the spirit of Billy Joel’s Madison Square Garden residency: As long as there’s an audience, they’ll always be a show. Mad Men will outlive us all. So will Billy Joel.
6) An American Family
The very first reality show already made a comeback a few years back when PBS ran a successful marathon ahead of the release of Cinema Verite, a behind-the-scenes dramatization of the production. We know now that Pat and Bill Loud have since reunited after the show tore them apart. The people want to know how they are doing now.
7) Day by Day
Before Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus starred in this short-lived sitcom about a family-run daycare center, which was a loose spin-off of Family Ties. An updated reboot could have a field day with the competitive sport of helicopter parenting. Hire the guy behind the Loz Feliz Daycare Twitter account and call it a day!
8) Party of Five
You might remember Party of Five as the last decent television show that starred the glorious Jennifer Love Hewitt. Everyone from the original cast (including Lost’s Matthew Fox) is a great actor who needs better work. Party Of Five: Still Partying would be ratings gold.
Clearly, audiences will never tire of New York City crime dramas. And think of the fun we could have if we brought back this nineties show about teenage crimesolvers in Brooklyn, set in present day. They could just spend their days on the L train giving tickets to illegal “showtime” performers. It’s DANGEROUS!
10) Solid Gold
Once upon a time, there were musical performance shows that didn’t involve Simon Cowell, Howard Stern, and hurting people’s feelings. Let’s bring back the non-competition musical variety show, with one condition: Everyone has to wear gold lamé leotards unironically.
Most famous for being the first TV show to address abortion, Maude was ahead of its time in more ways than one. A modern-day reboot with a more comedic slant could be very well received. I vote for Frances McDormand, DGAF queen, as the new Maude.
12) The Bloodhound Gang
The Bloodhound Gang, a running segment on 3-2-1 Contact, was everyone’s favorite part of the smarty-pants kids show. Kids solving crime with science needs its own series. “Whenever there’s trouble, we’re there on the double!”
13) Sports Night
ABC committed one of television’s most notorious crimes when it canceled Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night after only two seasons. If we can’t have a full reboot, can we at least have a reunion show?
14) I Married Dora
A pre-teen Juliette Lewis starred in this short-lived, very funny eighties sitcom about a single father who married his El Salvadorian housekeeper in order to keep her from being deported. The season finale made TV history when the characters broke the fourth wall to announce the show had been canceled. How about a reboot that breaks the fourth wall in every episode?
A Fame reboot would be a perfect way to fill the Glee-shaped hole in our hearts. This engrossing drama was based on the actual Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, which has churned out a number of high-profile actors like Adrian Brody and Jennifer Aniston.
A lot of people might think Columbo is untouchable, but we really do need to freshen up today’s tired detective procedural drama. Columbo showed us how it should be done, so let’s do it again, very carefully.
17) The Comeback
The Comeback already came back once, triumphantly, but the season finale suggested it might not be back again. This is a mistake! We need more Valerie Cherish, even if the show only comes back for one season every few years.
18) The Incredible Hulk
Given the obsession with all things Marvel comics, it’s astounding that we haven’t seen The Incredible Hulk on TV since 1982, when the Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno series ended. Let’s recast it with Patrick Dempsey and Eric Stonestreet and call it True Detective Season 3.
19) Mystery Science Theater
This is so easy I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet. A reboot could be done on a shoestring budget, and it’d be great to have a rotating cast of commentators.
20) Perfect Strangers
This sitcom about long-lost cousins Larry and Balki has already had a revival of sorts by way of the HBO show The Leftovers, which features the sitcom as a kind of running gag — it’s always on any background TV, and the entire cast was believed to be among the departed. In Season 2, it turned out that some of the actors only pretended to disappear. It’s hard to keep up! But it would be amazing to have a sitcom reboot spin-off of a prestige drama that’s still on the air.