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Everything old is new again. Hollywood has long followed that mantra religiously—just look at the weekend box office for proof of this. Currently the top two grossing movies are a live-action remake of a 1991 animated Disney film (Beauty and the Beast) and a movie starring an 84-year old pop culture icon whose origin story has been told repeatedly over the decades (Kong: Skull Island). It took a while for television to get in on the act, but reboot fever has hit hard in 2017.
In some cases, these reboots are based on feature films (Training Day, Dear White People) but that’s not the specific genus of television series I’ll be focusing on. Instead, I’ll take a look at four cult favorite series set to premiere this spring that are already being eagerly anticipated by their hardcore devotees.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (April 14 on Netflix)
A series which originally aired for ten seasons from 1988 to 1997, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K for short) featured a bumbling janitor named Joel Robinson (played by Joel Hodgson) who was forced by a pair of mad scientists to watch terrible movies with a pair of wisecracking robots, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. (Side note: Hodgson left the series in season 5 and was replaced by Michael J. Nelson, who portrayed a character named…Mike Nelson.) The show may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but for MST3K fans there were few things funnier than seeing Joel (later Mike) and the ‘bots make funny, incisive, reference heavy jokes about such Razzie-worthy films as Manos: The Hands of Fate and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
In the Netflix reboot set to air next month, comedian Jonah Ray inherits the jumpsuit previously worn by Hodgson and Nelson, while comedic actors Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn breathe new life into Crow and Servo, respectively. What’s more, the mad scientists are played by geek favorites Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt—that fact alone is guarantee enough that this new version of MST3K won’t disappoint.
Bill Nye Saves the World (April 14 on Netflix)
On the same day that MST3K debuts on Netflix, the streaming giant will also reintroduce another ‘90s favorite to 2017 audiences: Bill Nye. From 1994 to 1999, Nye hosted a half-hour science infotainment program called Bill Nye the Science Guy. Wearing a bowtie and powder blue lab coat, Nye educated young audiences about a variety of scientific subjects in a manner that managed to entertain as well as inform. In recent years, Nye has been a regular on the talk-show circuit as an informed and passionate advocate for issues such as climate change.
Nye’s new Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World, offers ‘90s kids who grew up on his show an opportunity to engage with scientific matters within a more adult context. While Nye still sports his trademark look, Bill Nye Saves the World investigates science’s relationship with politics, pop culture and society, and is set to include guest appearances from Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Rachel Bloom, and Joel McHale, among others.
Twin Peaks (May 21 on Showtime)
Who killed Laura Palmer? It was the question on many people’s lips in 1990 when Twin Peaks first aired on ABC. A surrealistic TV series created by movie auteur David Lynch, Twin Peaks delved into the brutal murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the fictional small town of Twin Peaks, Washington. Heading the Palmer investigation was Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), an eccentric FBI agent with a deep, abiding love for a good cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee. Twin Peaks was cancelled by ABC after two seasons due to declining ratings. Although a subsequent feature film, 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, was released—along with vague promises in subsequent years of a future film—there was little reason to believe that we’d ever see these characters again.
That is, until Showtime announced the return of Twin Peaks as a limited series event, with 18 new episodes written by Lynch and series co-creator Mark Frost and directed by Lynch. MacLachlan and other key Twins Peaks cast members are also scheduled to return, along with new additions to the cast like Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Jim Belushi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The plot of the Twin Peaks reboot is still shrouded in mystery at the moment, but true fans of the series wouldn’t have it any other way.
Star Trek: Discovery (Fall 2017 on CBS All Access)
Speaking of mysteries, it’s not entirely clear exactly when Star Trek: Discovery, the latest entry in the long-running Star Trek franchise, will air. Originally announced in November 2015, Discovery has been beset by several scheduling conflicts that include the loss of initial showrunner Bryan Fuller (of Pushing Daisies fame). Now under the auspices of showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, Discovery is now tentatively scheduled for a late summer or early fall release according to CBS.
Discovery is eagerly anticipated by Trekkies who’ve been waiting for a TV series based in the Star Trek universe since Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air in 2005. The series is said to be set in the “prime timeline” of the original shows (as opposed to the J.J. Abrams reboot films) and will focus on “a never-depicted event in Star Trek history” that chronologically occurred a decade before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission. The crew members on Discovery include a female captain played by Chinese action film legend Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and a gay lieutenant played by Anthony Rapp (Rent). The central character of the new series will be a lieutenant commander played by current Walking Dead co-star Sonequa Martin-Green.
What series are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments or by letting us know on social media!