Dec. 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM ET
Everything old is new again on television — or at least it can be. Classic TV shows, like 1980s (and beyond) murder mystery staple "Murder, She Wrote," are working their way back into the prime-time landscape through the reboot route, and there's room for plenty more.
Sure, some fans of past hits cringe when they hear their former favorites are due for a retooling (just see the not-so-supportive reactions to the news that "Gilligan's Island" is headed the big screen), but the fact is, sometimes it really is a good idea. The revival successes of "Hawaii Five-0" and "Dallas" prove that. And the reboot run of "Battlestar Galactica" established that a new-old show can be even better than the original — and outlast the original run by years.
But which treasured TV gems are ripe for a reboot? That's the all the all-important question for networks and audiences alike.
Here's our list of prime classic candidates:
'The Facts of Life'
You take the good, you take the bad and then you take it all back to the small screen again! The beloved series, which followed the foibles of headstrong girls and their always-observant housemother, Edna Garrett, is perfectly suited for a comeback. The key to making it work is to bring back a familiar face — or maybe a few. This time around, Natalie or Tootie could fill Mrs. G's shoes by offering the level-headed guidance the new students would need, while Eastland School's snobbiest alum, Blair, could be an administration adversary.
'Freaks and Geeks'
"Freaks and Geeks" wasn't a big or instant success, but after the short-lived series went off the air in 2000, it became a cult classic all the same. The single season show gained fans through its unlikely syndication (a second life usually reserved for longer-running programs), and the story could even gain more — if only it had another shot. The core of this teen dramedy was the assortment of odd-ball characters going through the awkward ups and downs of life in Chippewa, Mich., and a cast of fresh faces could bring that all back again — so long as the powers-that-be don't go casting any Disney darlings. Save the big names for the parents, and cast unknowns for the not-so-cool kids.
'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century'
It's a story that got its start in the pages of a 1920s novella and went on to comic books, radio, movies and then, finally, to TV — twice. Both the 1950 and 1979 TV runs of "Buck Rogers" were brief, lasting one and two seasons respectively. So why bring it back? Because sci-fi shows can only get better as the years go by. With sci-fi writers now favoring deeper and darker plots and special effects allowing for far less laughable future-tech, it's easy see how Buck, Wilma and Twiki could find a new audience.
If "Murder, She Wrote" has potential to be a prime-time player again, then the show's mature male counterpart, "Matlock," certainly does too. Andy Griffith's portrayal of a senior criminal defense lawyer thrilled viewers in a time period when crime procedurals and courtroom dramas didn't dominate television. Now that such offerings are commonplace, bringing this one back just makes sense, as long as the right actor can be found to play the equal-parts-grumpy-and-folksy leading man. We can think of a few, including Martin Sheen and Bill Cosby.
'The Cosby Show'
Speaking of Cosby, his hit show about family ties and good humor could work for a come back too. If "Matlock" doesn't keep the 76-year-old busy, why not have Cliff Huxtable return. There's no replacing the leading man here — it has to be the one-and-only Cosby, and that's just fine. Revisiting grandpa Huxtable, now retired from the baby biz, and his ever-expanding family could be just as fun now as it was when it first hit the small screen in 1984.
'All in the Family'
It might seem crazy — or even like a small-screen sacrilege — but this 1970s sitcom could gain an audience all over again. "All in the Family" showed a side of family life rarely explored on the boob tube. It was funny and filled with love, but it wasn't rosy or easy. "All in the Family" ran headfirst into social issues of the day, including political divides, racism and homophobia, and those issues are just as relevant now. It's just a matter of finding the perfect man to play good-hearted baddie Archie Bunker. Why not go with a role reversal? Rob Reiner played Archie's foil of a son-in-law back in the day, but he would certainly do the part of the patriarch justice now.