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Why do reunions of popular shows disappoint so oftem?

Recently, the six cast members of the hit American sitcom FRIENDS made a much-awaited comeback with the ‘FRIENDS Reunion’ after 17 years.

However, this was neither the first reunion of a TV series nor the wait was the longest. There have been many TV shows that have tried to revive the magic with more or less the same cast but didn’t manage to stay for a longer duration or one that matched the original run.

In a month’s time, TNT’s hit series Leverage also returns with most of the cast members with ten episodes, and before that, we must go through some other shows as well.

Leverage: Redemption

Without Nate (Timothy Hutton), Leverage: Redemption might not be the same, but with Noah Wyle taking over, and leading the original cast members Beth Riesgraf, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, and Aldis Hodge towards a con, we are all excited for the revival.

The New Perry Mason (1985 – 1995)

Before the current reboot of Perry Mason, there were a couple of attempts to revive Erle Stanley Gardner’s mystery thriller in the 70s and the 80s. The series’ original run was from 1957 to 1966 where Raymond Burr played the iconic criminal defense lawyer who always got the job done. The first revival The New Perry Mason came out seven years after the original show’s end but didn’t have Raymond Burr, and only ran for 15 episodes before it was canceled. Twelve years later, however, Raymond Burr agreed to return to play the character in a series of Perry Mason TV films that ran till 1995 – he was part of 26 out of 30 such TV films; the other four were produced after his death in 1993 at the age of 76!

Get Smart, Again! (1987)

When the American sitcom Get Smart was on air in the 1960s, the audience loved it because Don Adams' Maxwell Smart always got the job done through his incompetence. Despite Barbara Feldon as the trusted Agent 99 and Edward Platt as Chief by his side, there was hardly anything that Maxwell Smart could do ‘smartly’, and he always ‘missed it by that much’.

After the show ended in 1970, it was revived through made-for-TV movies including the unsuccessful The Nude Bomb in 1980, which was theatrically released and panned by the critics. The producers however made a successful comeback nine years later with Get Smart, Again! Which prompted another short-lived TV revival of Get Smart in 1995 with both Don Adams and Barbara Feldon returning. The film reboot in 2008 featuring Steve Carrell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99 was a success, but it was purely a theatrical venture, not a TV one.

The ‘Bionic Reunion’ (1987 – 1994)

If you grew up in the 1970s, you would have wanted to become either The Six Million Dollar Man (1973 - 1978) or The Bionic Woman (1976 - 1978), for they were the rage in those days. However, after both the shows ended their runs, they were revived through three made-for-TV movies which not only brought back the two main leads Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner as Steve Rogers and Jaime Sommers respectively, but also expanded the "bionic family".

Be it The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), or its sequel Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989) and Bionic Ever After? (1994), the ‘bionic couple’ had a great time, fighting evil like the good old days. Sadly, The Bionic Woman revival (2007) without Lindsay Wagner was a huge failure and was short-lived for the right reasons.

CHiPs ’99 (1998)

Everyone wanted to be a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers in the 1970s and the 1980s, because of CHiPs where the main leads were cool, always caught the bad guys, and lived an adventurous life. After the series completed its six-year run in 1983, it was sort of revived for one TV movie CHiPs ’99 (in 1998) where most of the cast members returned. The only change was that Larry Wilcox’s John Baker was now the Captain, Erik Estrada’s Frank Poncherello was still an officer and Robert Pine’s Captain was now the Commissioner. It did well but not good enough for a revival, although a flawed remake was made in 2017 that was panned so badly by the audience that no one tried to touch the original series afterward.

Knight Rider 2000 (1991)

He was the man with a new identity partnered with a talking car that could drive itself; together they captivated the audience during 1982 and 1986 with their adventures in Knight Rider. However, after the series was canceled abruptly in 1986, the producers tried to revive it twice, and reboot it once with no success. Although the first revival Knight Rider 2000 (1991) had everything in its favor, David Hasselhoff was playing Michael Knight, Edward Mulhare portrayed Devon Miles, William Daniels returned as the Voice of KITT, but since Michael Knight was not the main lead - newcomer Susan Norman was - and the black Pontiac Trans Am was updated to a red Dodge Stealth with a new name Knight Industries Four Thousand (KIFT), which sounded horrible.

After that, Team Knight Rider was created which ran for just one season in 1997 and 1998. A reboot in 2007 featuring Justin Breuning as Michael Knight's estranged son, Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT and a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR as the new KITT, failed to go past one season, despite David Hasselhoff returning for the pilot as Michael Knight!

Joey (2004 - 2006)

And while we are at it, let’s talk about the two seasons of Joey where Matt LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani went to Hollywood and made new friends. Unlike his other cast members from FRIENDS, he was the only one to get his own sitcom, but couldn’t carry it for more than two seasons. None of the ‘other’ FRIENDS returned for this short-lived TV show, however, they were there for FRIENDS Reunion and we couldn’t be happier for them for breaking the seventeen-year hiatus in style!

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