When Did The Job Become RE-Development Executive?

I’m honestly stunned by some of what some content factories think are ideas that are worthy of time and money these days, neither of which most of us seem to have an abundance of any more.  At a time when there is overwhelming evidence that audiences are clamoring for original, relatable concepts, either broad enough to have multiple audience tentacles or novel enough to appeal to a passion base that will disproportionately support and endorse it, we somehow continue to see efforts to revisit what audiences have already, and continue, to reject and allow to fade into history.  Yesterday, we got two such announcements within hours of each other.

First, this bulletin from DEADLINE’s Michaela Zee:

A “Heroes” reboot series is in development from creator Tim Kring, Variety has confirmed.

The reboot, titled “Heroes: Eclipsed,” is set years after the events of the original 2006 superhero series, as new evolved humans are discovering their powers.

“Heroes” ran for four seasons from 2006 to 2010, and starred Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar and Greg Grunberg. Kring then worked on the 2015 reboot miniseries “Heroes Reborn,” with Coleman reprising his role as Noah Bennet.

Deadline was first to report the “Heroes” reboot news.

The more cheerleader-ish TV LINE unearthed some of what Kring offered up at the time of the miniseries’ release as rationale for his second chance.  As Keish Hackett shared:

No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu. Heroes really is staging another comeback.   

Heroes: Eclipsed, a new iteration of the much discussed sci-fi series, is in the works from creator Tim Kring, TVLine has confirmed. Per our sister site Deadline, who was first to report, the project is set years after the events of the original show’s series finale and centers on new Evos being awakened and discovering their life-altering powers.  

This comes after 2015’s Heroes Reborn, the franchise’s first reboot, which saw Jack Coleman reprise his original series role as Noah Bennett. The 13-episode limited series followed a different group of Evos who were targeted by the U.S. government, which blamed them for a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas. The series finale ended with the super-powered crew saving the world from a solar flare-induced apocalypse and going on to live normal lives.

Heroes, meanwhile, ran from 2006 to 2010 and also followed strangers with unique abilities working together to save the world. The original ensemble included Coleman, Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Adrian Pasdar, Ali Larter, Greg Grunberg, David Anders and Kristen Bell.

Although an instant hit, later seasons of the NBC show didn’t quite live up to expectations and have since been heavily criticized for overly ambitious plots. Kring addressed what went wrong with the show during a panel for Heroes Reborn at the Television Critics Association summer press tour back in 2015.  “The biggest pitfall was always the amount of story that we had to tell,” Kring said at the time. “Our [episode] order was for 23 the first year, then 26 in the second year, 25 in the third year. We were facing a mathematical difficulty, an uphill battle.”

What even Hackett forgot to report was that devoid of the “uphill battle” of a larger series order, the reboot opened up a VOICE lead out time slot at a meh six million viewers and hemorraged more than a third of it by its conclusion.  If I could look it up, so could she.

With similar fanfare, DEADLINE’s intrepid Nellie Andreeva volleyed this enthusiastic nugget hours later:

EXCLUSIVE: Welcome back to WeHo. Three popular Melrose Place original cast members, Heather Locklear, Laura Leighton and Daphne Zuniga, are reuniting for a followup to the 1990s staple. A Melrose Place reboot, with the trio attached to star, is in development at CBS Studios and is currently being shopped to networks and streamers, Deadline has learned.  Written by Lauren Gussis, creator/executive producer on the Netflix/CBS Studios series Insatiable, the new Melrose Place picks up years after the original series, created by Darren Star, and would provide an update on the beloved characters, one of whom may no longer be with us.

TV INSIDER’s Amanda Bell offered up this insight as to where the inspiration for this might have germinated from:

Talk of a new Melrose Place reunion has been percolating for quite some time. In 2021, original series star Josie Bissett, who reprised her role as Jane Mancini in The CW‘s 2009 revival Melrose, revealed that she’d been in conversations with former costars about reviving the show, telling Seattle Times why she thinks it’d succeed where Melrose did not: “This is gonna be different because it’s the original cast. Melrose is a tough show to reboot unless it’s with the original people,” the actress said.

Yet, as Andreeva reinforces, said original cast WAS present in the 2009 revival, and, as she succinctly states, (i)t aired for one season.

And I dare say even the details of this revival’s premise are, shall we say, far from original:

In the new installment, when one of their dearest friends dies suddenly, the OG residents of Melrose Place gather to honor the deceased. But the pressure cooker of a reunion soon uncovers old traumas, rekindles old romances, reignites old resentments, and reveals new secrets… throwing our characters into chaotic drama that’s reminiscent of the past, but with a much more modern perspective.

It’s very possible Gussis, who per Wikipedia grew up in Chicago, Illinois during the 1990s, may be a tad too young to have seen a movie called THE BIG CHILL, which set the gold standard for said plot line.  But trust me, an awful lot of fans of the OG MELROSE are.  And I haven’t heard any hue and cry from them to see that ripped off.

And even when the OG MELROSE was at the height of its popularity, at a time when reruns of sister show BEVERLY HILLS 90210 had defied the odds of typical soap operas and found a niche following on cable networks such as WGN, MELROSE reruns that the E! network paid inexplicably top dollar for cratered at ratings below a 0.3 at a time when even they could break a 1.

Look, I’m all for second chances.  I’m living proof.  But third chances?  Especially when there doesn’t appear to any quantitative or qualitative evidence that there’s interest and demand for these ideas beyond the inner circles of people with access to companies obsessed with monetizing existing IP who have an unhealthy attachment to past failures?

There are plenty of ways for what remains of the support teams at both Paramount Global and NBCUniversal to have provided some evidence that these re-reboots are ideas backed up by actual demand.  Streaming audience statistics, even in relative terms.  Attendance at fan fests.  Even a few sizable Facebook groups.  After all that’s the demo bucket that these IPs are catering to–not TikTok, fer sure.  Nope, nothing like THAT seemed to make yesterday’s releases.

So instead of something from someone with an original voice, with an original concept, looking to break through the way, say, Barbenheimer or even a few Netflix originals of late have, we have “development” teams that think another crack at the same apple these shows failed to bite into within the last 15 years is a superior course of action.

It makes me wonder exactly how bad the ideas they passed on are.  Or how much leeway what qualifies as “development” is being given in an era where companies are overly obsessed with the false belief that the quickest way to success is to take an existing asset and offer up a new iteration.

What does seem to work better are reimaginings, such as what I saw first-hand with ONE DAY AT A TIME, what the Paramount team saw with HAWAII FIVE-O and even what NBCU saw recently with MAGNUM.  All of these capitalized on nostalgia but found new audiences and demos with fresh faces, remaining true to their ancestors’ concept, if not their casting.  Doesn’t seem to be any of that forethought in these cases.

What I see is arguable laziness, perhaps worse.  You do recall what one of the co-stars of OPPENHEIMER said about this, right?

Until next time…

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