MaHB Television: You Again?

Esquire Malaysia + Esquire Singapore, January 2014

You Again?
Moving forward, expect more TV shows to look backwards.

By Sophia Goh

It might be a brand-new year, but as far as the television networks are concerned, they didn’t get the memo. If there’s one thing the 2013-2014 TV season has taught us, it’s that nothing is too old to be revisited, retold or rebooted because, with rare exceptions such as James Spader’s The Blacklist, most of the new, original stuff isn’t doing all that great anyway.

Take Sleepy Hollow, a modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s classic short story, which has been picked up for a second season. With Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie leading the way, the series sees Ichabod Crane (Mison) resurrected two and a half centuries after his “death” to, well, save the world, basically. Beharie plays his unlikely ally and sidekick, Lieutenant Abbie Mills.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is quite literally sucking it up in Dracula, yet another screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic. (Thankfully, neither Rhys Meyers nor the show sucks as much. No pun intended. Okay maybe.) Personal demons notwithstanding – his salary was reportedly delayed amid concerns that his substance abuse issues would derail production – Rhys Meyers is perfect as Dracula/Alexander Grayson, who arrives in London to unleash his revenge upon those who ruined his life centuries prior. There’s a man who knows how to hold a grudge.

Then there’s the announcement that Disney has green-lit Girl Meets World, the highly anticipated reboot of Boy Meets World (hello, 90s!), which will actually see original cast members Ben Savage and Danielle Fisher reprise their roles as the beloved sweethearts Cory and Topanga, except now they’re married and have a daughter named Riley – hence, the change in title. Nostalgia, anyone?

On the other hand, not even the Steven Spielberg-produced debutante, Lucky 7, about seven gas station employees in New York who suddenly win the lottery, has been able to make much of a splash. And speaking of Spielberg, movie stars also seem to be heading back to the small screen in larger-than-usual numbers. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in this month’s HBO newbie, True Detective; Emile Hirsch just took a starring turn in Bonnie & Clyde; and, of course, there’s Rhys Meyers. In fact, even Sleepy Hollow’s Mison and Beharie are silver screen imports – he was Captain Robert Mayers in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, while she’s best known for playing Marianne in Shame.

Why the familiar faces, and even more familiar storylines? We dare say it’s not a case of studios lacking new talent, but rather because it’s simply easier and safer to take tried-and-proven names and material, and rework them for an already established fan base. The economy being what it is, everyone’s looking to penny-pinch wherever they can in the hope of making bigger bucks. Bringing in new faces might be refreshing for viewers, but it’s also riskier. Ditto for new concepts. Besides, we all know how much the female demographic loves a handsome, brooding vampire. Hollywood’s been successfully milking that cow for years.

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