Patt Morrison for August 3, 2012

'The Brady Bunch' gets a reboot: what other '70s TV shows are due for a comeback?

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The 1960s hit television series 'The Brady Bunch' is now being made into a modern movie starring Vince Vaughn.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

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Actors Jonah Hill (L) and Channing Tatum arrive at the premiere of Columbia Pictures' "21 Jump Street" at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on March 13. 2012 in Los Angeles, California.


Here’s a story of a lovely lady…actually, it’s the story of another 70s reboot. Vince Vaughn has announced plans to return to “The Brady Bunch,” which aired originally from 1969-1974. Like CBS’s version of “Hawaii Five-0,” the plotline will take place in this century, however.

The show will follow a divorced Bobby Brady (not Mike), who marries a divorcée with her own children. Reboots and remakes have had varying success; the most popular being Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica.” On the other hand, after several feature-length films, the “Charlie’s Angels” 2011 television series fizzled out with nary a whimper.

Todd VanDerWerff, TV Editor of the A.V. Club joins the show to talk about all the old sitcoms getting re-boots either on TV or in the movies.

Interview Highlights:

On 70s sitcoms:
"70s sitcoms really got into digging into social issues and trying to reflect the way people actually lived in that era, which was a marked contrast to the sitcoms 60s, which, outside of 'the Dick Van Dyke Show,' used to be kind of broad a gimmicky. And, I mean, I like 'Green Acres' a lot, but there's a little bit more sophistication in something like 'All in the Family' or the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' or 'Barney Miller' than there is in, yes, 'Green Acres' or 'Bewitched' or something like that."

On 70s shows with a social message:
"In the 1970 to 71 TV season, CBS put first the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' and then 'All in the Family' on the air within, I think, six months of each other. And the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' was this sort of groundbreaking show about single women making their way in the city and having careers and such. And 'All in the Family,' of course, opens so many doors for discussing racial issues and discussing political issues, seriously and with intelligence, like people were doing around their own dinner tables. And also, toilets flushed and that drove everybody crazy."

On "M*A*S*H" the show vs. M*A*S*H the movie:
"They were aiming for very different things, 'M*A*S*H' the show had to tell the story over 11 years, and M*A*S*H the movie was two or three hours, but I think they accomplished very different things in equally proficient ways. I think the episode of 'M*A*S*H' were it's just a documentary, where they talk to all of the characters about their experiences in the war is probably one of the best episodes of TV ever made."

On "the Odd Couple":
"'The Odd Couple' was just terrific stuff. That was a show where it didn't have a lot of particular social meaning, it was just funny stuff and it was a really strong relationship at the center of that show, but you always wanted to see what those two guys would do.You know if they did a remake of that show now, if Vince Vaughn did the reboot of the 'Odd Couple,' [their relationship] would be the premise right there."

On the portrayal of African Americans:
"Those shows-well, except for 'What's Happening!!'-those shows all came from the Normal Lear Production Company. He was the guy who also brought 'All in the Family' from Britain over here and he was really intent on creating African American characters in all levels of life, so you have the Jeffersons who, you know, have some money and recently acquired it and have to mix in with more polite society, and then you go down all the way to, you know, 'Good Times,' where the characters are really struggling to get by and they told those stories with real depth and really great emotional warmth."

On how the shows live on:
"So many of [the shows] are on DVD, too. Like 'Soap', you can buy the entire run on DVD, which just sort of blows my mind. But, you know, a show like 'M*A*S*H' has been running ever since it went off the air. A lot of these shows have had really long, long syndication lives and that's not always the case with old shows."

WEIGH IN:

What makes one reboot better than another? For that matter, when a reboot is good, what makes it good to begin with? What shows are you dying to return to?

Guests:

Todd VanDerWerff, TV Editor, The A.V. Club


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