It was revived and then it was reviled: the new remake of Charlie’s Angels has been cancelled in America after just four episodes. It was very poor – critics called it “heinous” – but abrupt failure means it joins the ranks of many a rubbish remake.
You can revive a show and be a hit. Battlestar Galactica’s remake was so good that it made you wonder who could stand to watch the original. But that’s a rather lonely example and more striking, more numerous, are the turkeys: remakes so bad they died on their feet and were cancelled. Remakes and revivals banished for good, never to be seen again (apart from here).
George Cole’s Arthur Daley was one of the pillars of Thatcherite Britain: an entrepreneur who rolled back the boundaries of the law with his get-rich-quick schemes. When Shane Richie appeared in 2009 on Channel 5 as Archie Daley (Arthur’s nephew), the satire had been replaced by unlikely gangster chic and the series failed to match the ratings success of the original. And the less said about Attic Lights’s version of I Could Be So Good for You the better.
Knight Rider (2008/2009)
Um. It did die and it did deserve to if only for using Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT. But, no, honestly, the feature-length pilot was quite entertaining, as long as you’re not too offended by the premise that a woman goes in search of a man who can better get to grips with this super car. Perhaps she was more used to driving a manual (if nothing else, KITT is very much an automatic). There’s also a bank heist episode that’s actually exciting — up until the car saves the day.
Charlie’s Angels (2011)
Perhaps the few viewers of this felt they had a bond together, that they had been through something, that they had suffered. Perhaps there will be Viewer Reunions. Look, success and failure lie within millimetres of each other and nobody sets out to make a bad show. But you will wonder if that’s really true as you watch this revival. Maybe times have changed just too much but even if it had found a way to be camp, it would also have needed far better actors.
Bionic Woman (2007)
In 2007, Michelle Ryan swapped Walford for San Francisco to star in this remake of the 1970s Six Million Dollar Man spin-off (which featured Lindsay Wagner as the technologically-enhanced heroine). The former EastEnder convinced as the girl next door-turned-superhuman crime fighting machine and criticism of her American accent was harsh. Meanwhile, Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff was Ryan’s bionic bitch of a nemesis, meaning plenty of kickass girl-fights. The show was cancelled after just eight episodes but, really, what was not to like?
The Liver Birds (1996)
Women’s lib turned out to be rib-tickling fun in the original of this BBC sitcom, which aired 1969-1979. But writer and co-creator Carla Lane may have taken one liberty too many by reviving the show 17 years after the lively Liverpudlian flatmates Beryl (Polly James) and Sandra (Nerys Hughes) finally settled down. James and Hughes reunited in 1996 as divorcees trying to rediscover that spirit of independence. Sadly, fans of the show had moved on, making this revival another painful memory for the girls.