Charlie’s Angels, Melrose Place and Bionic Woman: five of the worst TV comebacks

Doctor Who and Family Guy might make it look easy, but bringing beloved characters back from the dead isn't always a great idea...

We are sticklers for a spot of nostalgia, whether that’s the return of former Saturday night fave Stars in their Eyes or the constant rumours that Miranda Hart is bringing back The Generation Game.


Sometimes there’s nothing better than reconnecting with old friends, especially when those friends are famous, nice to look at and there purely for your entertainment. But sometimes, there really is.

Call them what you want but reboots, revivals and TV comebacks are tricky to pull off. All too often they just don’t go to plan…

5. Upstairs Downstairs

ITV’s 1971 drama Upstairs Downstairs was set in a London townhouse, 165 Eaton Place, during Edwardian, First World War and interwar Britain. The programme focused on the dramas of the wealthy Bellamy family who lived “upstairs” and those who worked for them, and lived “downstairs.” It became something of a surprise success, running for five series before the final episode, which saw the last of the cast leaving the house, was aired in 1975.

In 2010, BBC breathed life back into the house, producing a glammed-up version of the 70s series with the return of original character Rose Buck, played once again by Jean Marsh. The new series, starring Keeley Hawes and Ed Stoppard, started where the previous version left off, in 1936, when a new family moved into the house. Although the remake had good reviews for its first run, viewing figures dropped quickly in the second series – perhaps something to do with ITV juggernaut Downton Abbey – and there are no plans to make a third.

4. Melrose Place 

The original Melrose Place was actually a spin-off from Beverly Hills: 90210. The show followed the dramas of a group of young adults living in an apartment complex in Los Angeles.

The show ran for an impressive seven seasons and during this time the cast changed considerably. Many (now famous) faces appeared on the show, including Marcia Cross, who later went on to play Bree in Desperate Housewives, and Kristin Davis, who we now know as Charlotte in Sex and the City.

But Melrose Place’s 2009 remake failed to find the same success – met with poor reviews from critics and lower-than-expected ratings, the series was subsequently cancelled after its first season…

3. Bionic Woman

In 2007, actress 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 played bartender Jaime Sommers, a young woman who is saved from a near-fatal car accident by experimental bionic prosthetics and implants.

Sounds good, right? Well, viewers didn’t agree. The action-packed drama series was scrapped after just eight episodes, with producers blaming the decision on a massive drop in ratings…

2. Dallas

Dallas first burst onto our screens in 1978 and the American soap opera soon captured our hearts, following wealthy Texas oil barons the Ewings. Known for its cliffhanger endings, Dallas’ dramatic storylines centred around sex, power and money.

Original Dallas ran for 14 seasons before its final episode was aired in 1991. The final offering was, in typical Dallas fashion, an almighty cliffhanger, leaving viewers unsure as to whether J.R. had committed suicide. Though, alongside Sue Ellen and Bobby, J.R. was one of the original characters who returned for TNT’s 2012 reboot, so that clears that up…

The glossy remake, also starring Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe, promised to be just as gripping as its predecessor, but it just wasn’t – and fans were forced to say another farewell to the Ewings after three runs when it was cancelled last year.

1. Charlie’s Angels

The original Charlie’s Angels premiered in 1976 and quickly became one of the most successful series of the 70s, focusing on three glamorous, mystery-solving women: Sabrina (Kate Jackson), Jill (Farrah Fawcett) and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith). They were ex-policewomen who, bored by the menial jobs they were given in their male-dominated workplace, quit to join the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators.

A movie franchise featuring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore enjoyed considerable success, but the momentum failed to reach the Charlie’s Angels 2011 TV remake.

Starring Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor (soon to be seen in AKA Jessica Jones), the series didn’t diverge far from the original premise although, instead of all being ex-policewomen, the Angels comprised of an ex-Miami cop, a street racer and a thief. This update wasn’t enough to snag viewers, though – thirteen episodes of the new show were made, but, due to extremely poor ratings and reviews from critics, only four were ever aired, confirming its place as one of the worst remakes ever.


See the best TV comebacks