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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Hit me baby, one more time!

Here are just some iconic TV shows I would love to see in a brand new avatar

brunch Updated: Oct 20, 2018 23:44 IST
Seema Goswami
Seema Goswami
Hindustan Times
A Friends reboot with the millennial kids of the characters would be exciting
A Friends reboot with the millennial kids of the characters would be exciting(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)
         

You cannot imagine my delight when I heard that Murphy Brown was going to be back on our television screens, with a much older (and presumably much wiser) Candice Bergen making her comeback on fictional TV network. For those of you who were born too late to know what I am talking about, this was a TV series that created a fair bit of controversy in its day (in the Ronald Reagan-Bush senior era) when its lead star, a TV anchor called Murphy Brown, decided to become a single mother. 

Well, the first two episodes of the Murphy Brown reboot just dropped and I have to say that the new series is quite as good as the original. Actually, if anything it is even better. I don’t want to post any spoilers but any show that has its lead character getting into a Twitter battle with President Donald Trump in the very first episode has my vote. 

But even as I chortled and chuckled at the best lines, I couldn’t help but think of the various other shows I had enjoyed in my childhood and my youth, which I would love to see recast for my middle age. Here is just a short sampling of them. 

The West Wing

This rates as my favourite TV series ever. I have seen some of the episodes so often that I know the lines by heart. Earlier, I used to dip into the box set I had bought of all seven seasons. But now that it is available on Amazon Prime, I binge on it even more often.

Most fellow fans who would also like to see the series revived – ideally with Aaron Sorkin as the lead writer, producer and director – tend to favour Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) as the new President of the USA. But my money is on C.J. Cregg (Alison Janney) as the first woman American President. It’s about time, wouldn’t you say? And if it’s never going to happen in reality, then I will happily settle for fiction instead.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who plays the President. The original West Wing derived its strength from the strong ensemble cast, its overarching story line, and of course, some brilliant writing. Who can forget the banter between Josh and his loyal secretary Donna? Or the acerbic Toby’s sarcastic asides, which often stole the scene effortlessly? Or indeed, President Bartlet’s tendency to bore everyone to death with his endless prattling on about facts and figures.

But more than anything else, I do wish the West Wing would come back with its bracing idealistic vision of a world in which liberal values are the lodestar. If nothing else, it would provide a strong counterpoint to the goings-on in the actual West Wing!

I couldn’t help but think of the various other shows I enjoyed in my childhood that I’d love to see recast for my middle age

Yes Minister

My second favourite political show of all time. Here again, the writing was of such superlative quality that the original series hasn’t dated at all. But wouldn’t it be fun if someone like Armando Iannucci (of The Thick of It and Veep fame) recast Yes Minister – and later, Yes, Prime Minister – in the times of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and, of course, Donald Trump.

My personal preference would be to have a blond buffoon like Boris Johnson (albeit one with hidden depths of cunning and chutzpah) in Number 10, Downing Street, setting off crisis after crisis both in domestic politics and international polity. Just the thought of it makes me giggle. 

Friends

Yes, yes, I know all the cast members have announced at various times that they have no intention of doing a reboot of the series. And on the rare occasions when they have conceded the possibility of a revival, it’s always to add that it will never happen because Jennifer Aniston will never agree.

Well, frankly, much as I loved Rachel Green, I would be happy to settle for a Jennifer Aniston-less Friends. They can pretend that she’s gone off to Paris to work in the fashion world (maybe have her call in occasionally) and let the rest of the cast get on with it. 

Monica and Chandler would be living in suburbia, bringing up their teenage twins (we don’t have to be chronologically accurate, do we?), with Joey living in the garage flat, after he’s lost all his money after an acrimonious divorce. Ross could be on his fourth wife and a new set of children. And Phoebe would have her own spa empire, with Mike playing house husband. 

I can’t wait to see what the friends make of the 21st century, of Twitter and Instagram, and the woke millennials that their kids are turning out to be. 

Could I be more excited? Nah, I don’t think so.

Boston Legal

As legal dramas go, this one was in a class of its own. A superbly talented cast led by William Shatner, Candice Bergen (yes, her again) and James Spader, this show has both dramatic intensity and comic relief in equal measure. I suspect that in the #MeToo era, Shatner could not possibly get up to some of the politically incorrect stuff he did in the original series. But then, he did marry Spader in the last episode (for tax reasons, not because they belatedly discovered they were homosexual). And he would probably be a hundred years old in the reboot, anyway.

So maybe a new, younger cast, led by Spader and some of the other familiar faces, may make sense. So long as the law cases remain as tricky, the characters as eccentric and the writing as quirky, we could be on a winner. 

Journalist and author Seema Goswami has been a columnist with HT Brunch since 2004.

Spectator appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, October 21, 2018

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First Published: Oct 20, 2018 23:44 IST