As Top Gear returns to unfavourable reviews, Fraser Smith looks back at 5 of the best TV remakes.
Last month saw the rather disappointing return of Top Gear to our TV screens, with Matt LeBlanc and Chris Evans offering an unsatisfactory substitution for the more favoured cast of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Disappointing returns are however not solely confined to Top Gear, with the Friends ‘Reunion’ (minus Matthew Perry) being remarkably unfunny. 2016 may yet be known as the year of the TV series remakes with both Prison Break and the X Files being touted to be released later this year. Here is a rundown of the top 5 TV series which have been remade.
5) Star Trek (Premieres in 2017)
Star Trek began in 1966, where through its creator Gene Rodenberry, inspired by Western films, took audiences throughout a series of adventures alongside James T. Kirk and his crew on the Starship Enterprise. It soon became incredibly popular, so much so that it was seen as a cult phenomenon with it leading to a themed attraction in Las Vegas (which closed in September 2008), a wide range of toys and also its own constructed language, known as Klingon. The franchise has also inspired a great number of spin-offs including an animated series and also over 10 films. The series is now owned by CBS (TV rights) and Paramount Pictures (Film Rights) but yet Star Trek’s loyal fan base (known as Trekkie’s) will be salivating at the fact that there will be a new series premiering in 2017 on CBS All Access.
4) Sherlock Holmes
The popular novel series by Arthur Conan Doyle has been countlessly re-introduced to both the big and small screens in varying different adaptions. However the seemingly most popular spin-off has come from the BBC, where producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have helped it to gain widespread acclaim. Through casting both Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson, they instantly created a formidable partnership which quickly gathered the nation’s attention. The most recent third series gained an average of 11.82 million viewers whilst the last episode turned in 12.7 million viewers, in turn making Sherlock the most popular TV series since 2001.
3) House of Cards
Originally it was a hit drama, adapted from Michael Dobbs’ novel. Whilst it did air on the BBC back in 1990, it was eventually outshone by its younger counterpart. Netflix re-introduced the drama in 2013, moving it from a plot focussed on the English Prime Minister to that of the US President. Kevin Spacey plays the role of the dictatorial Democrat Francis Underwood who along with Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright) attempt to capture the US presidency by any means necessary. The programme received widespread critical acclaim, and Netflix who haven’t yet released their viewing figures claim that over 15% of their 50 million subscribers have watched at least one episode of the series.
2) The Office
Based around the banal lives of office workers in the fictitious Wernham Hogg Paper Company, the series producers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant received extensive plaudits for their comedic ‘mockumentary’ series. It was widely seen as being one of the funniest things to hit TV screens where it scooped up numerous awards, including best TV show for 20 years at the Broadcast Awards. After its introduction in 2001, the producers were commonly criticised for not cutting the programme after two years. It did however return in terms of an American version. Despite the scepticism amongst British audiences, Greg Daniels was able to successfully transfer its popularity over to the US with it running for another eight seasons until 2013, where it died a natural death.
1) Doctor Who
One of the most famous series produced by the BBC began the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. It soon became a family favourite with it gathering three noticeable peaks during its time, with one such example being the period of 1964-1965 which was known as ‘Dalekmania’. The Doctor’s arch-nemesis regularly brought in around 9-14 million viewers even when they were not the focus of the plot. The popularity of Doctor Who can be summed up by the theme tune which was one of the first electronic music signatures for television and still remains easily recognisable. After a slow decrease in ratings the show was axed in 1989. Despite an unsuccessful pilot in 1996, it eventually returned to our screens in 2005 with the episode “Rose” which drew an audience of 10.1 million. This was the third highest on the BBC during that week and the eleventh highest on all Channels. Then BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith termed Doctor Who as a ‘superbrand’, and this is no more shown by its worldwide appeal with it appearing in over 50 countries.