'Archer' is Getting Re-Rebooted: Will It Fare Better Than These Other TV Reboots?
Looks like Archer will finally kick its cocaine habit. After this season of Archer: Vice, in which the gang went from being international spies to drug dealers, the show will unreboot... or de-boot... or re-reboot... or whatever, and return to regular Archer. Of course, the show won't completely wipe the slate clean — Lana will still be pregnant. But Archer will return to its original workplace comedy conceit of spies screwing up dangerous missions. It's not as if the whole Archer: Vice plot was a failure. But since the show has been renewed for two more seasons, it needed to create a stronger foundation for its departure.
That's not always the case for television. Usually, the reboot or retooling of a show means either means that it's on thin ice with the network or a lead actor has left the show, so most shows don't make it through the retooling. But retooling isn't always the death knoll for a show... hell, both Doctor Who and American Horror Story have retooling built into their DNA. So why does it work for some shows and not for others? Let's take a look at a few recent examples:
Up All Night
Probably one of the most egregious examples of retooling in television history, there was a point in time where the show seemed to have a different element changed every week. Once a sweet (if a little dull and confused) comedy about a couple and their best friend bringing up their first child, the show's ratings started to sag in the first season. The network started to take notice, and began changing the show's makeup, little by little: best friend Ava lost her job as an Oprah-esque talk show host and a never-before-seen brother came to live with the couple. At the end of the first season, NBC finally suggested that Up All Night become a multi-camera sitcom, and that was the last straw. One by one, lead actors Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, and Christina Applegate left the show, and that was it.
Oh, zombie Scrubs, rising from the grave of the supposedly "final" eighth season to become a new show about med school students and James Franco's hot brother. Sure, the show still had the same sensibility and humor, just, you know, most of its cast was replaced with completely new characters and the show's protagonist was gone for most of the season. Needless to say, it was a little jarring, and the show ended after Season 9... and now it waits, deep beneath the soil, to rise once again.
Speaking of which, Community's recent reboot frequently referenced Season 9 of Scrubs. The show's been through a lot of changes: Dan Harmon has finally returned, none of the characters are actually attending Greendale, and two main characters have left the show permanently. But weirdly enough, the show feels much more like its former self, back in the days before Harmon was fired. It's a much higher quality show this season than last season, but no doubt NBC is exhausted with all the Community antics behind the scenes — the show hasn't been renewed, and its days feel numbered.
Angel's parent series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, went through a few retoolings over the years — gaining and losing characters, moving to college, and finally giving up on the whole "school" thing altogether. But through it all, it largely maintained the same sort of structure and the same kind of storytelling. Angel, however, became a completely different show after its first season. While the show started off as a monster-of-the-week detective show, it was reformed as a larger show about the battle between the powers of good (The Powers That Be) and evil (Wolfram and Hart) in its second season. This kind of world-building and high stakes gave the show what it needed to carry it through four more seasons.
Image: FX; NBC (3); WB