CBS to reboot Beverly Hills Cop — Is television running out of ideas?

Brandon T Jackson is set to be a Beverly Hills Cop

Reboots and re-workings of old TV shows seem to be the new normal. Now CBS is rebooting an old movie franchise for TV! In this week’s Clacking in Color, the fun column about minorities in Hollywood, writer Jaylen Christie wonders if things are getting a bit stale.

 

It’s been decades since television was first created which naturally means that there’s been a colorful plethora of TV programs — some inspired and some not so much. Lately I’ve been wondering whether or not screenwriters have been running out of ideas. It looks like reboots and re-workings of old TV shows have been the norm, and while there have been a share of tragic flops — Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, V, Charlie’s Angels – there have also been successes — TNT’s Dallas, and, well, I can’t really think of any others, but that’s beside the point. Now it seems that CBS is set to reboot one of the most successful film franchises of the ’80s — Beverly Hills Cop.

It was a profitable franchise, and CBS is hoping that they can turn it into an entertaining series. I’m intrigued.

Okay, now I’m pretty sure this news is going to have one of two dissimilar effects. Either people are going to become deeply intrigued by this pristine development … or they may sigh and curse the network executives at CBS for even entertaining the idea. I think I’m in the middle. Beverly Hills Cop is arguably one of the films that helped make Golden Globe winning comedian Eddie Murphy a star. While the first film was actually pretty decent, the sequels left a lot to be desired. Still, it was a profitable franchise, and CBS is hoping that they can turn it into an entertaining series. I’m intrigued.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, rising comedian and actor Brandon T. Jackson of Tropic Thunder fame — although he’s done equally hilarious work in Roll Bounce and Lottery Ticket — has been tapped to play Eddie Murphy’s son in the new series. Jackson will be the star; he’ll be playing a cop who is trying to follow in daddy’s footsteps. Murphy will appear in the pilot, and if the show is picked up, he’ll appear in a handful of episodes. Hmmm … now that’s actually pretty interesting. I’m happy for Jackson too. It’s always good to see a BMW — a Black Man Working, and I’m sure that Jackson has the comedic and dramatic chops to pull this off.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves now. Let us take into consideration the fact that when reboots flop, they flop terribly. Ah, how I remember being intrigued by NBC’s reboot of another popular ’80s property — Knight Rider. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that series get canceled before seeing a second season? And just last year, ABC tried (in vain) to reboot Charlie’s Angels (with a foxy brown-skinned sistah’ no less) and that fell off too. Here’s hoping that CBS will have better luck. I’m sure they will, but what I’m really concerned about doesn’t have anything to do with the new series, well, at least not entirely.

No, my question is whether or not TV has run out of ideas. I mean, seriously? How many reboots are we going to have to have? Lucy Liu’s making quite a positive stir in CBS’s Elementary, a re-working of the Sherlock Holmes fable, but even that’s a reboot in a sense! Can we get some original scripted programming please? I imagine coming up with ideas can be taxing in Hollywood. I predict it can be pretty challenging, but if there’s one thing that I can appreciate as an avid television watcher, it’s a show that’s fresh and completely original.

Lately all we’ve been treated to is fare that’s stale … but I’ll quit my complaining. Let’s get back to the issue at hand. Since reboots seem to be the new normal, I applaud CBS for going for one with an African-American lead. Last week, I wrote a column about all of the wonderful ethnic diversity on TV these days. It looks like that’s set to continue. I certainly won’t mind seeing Murphy and Jackson on my flat screen every week. They’re talented enough.

Let’s just hope the pilot gets picked up though. Then we’ll talk.

Do you enjoy reading Clacking in Color? Jaylen sure as hell hopes so! Feel free to follow him on Twitter @thesuperflynerd to keep up with all things diverse on television!

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Photo Credit: BET Networks

16 Comments on “CBS to reboot Beverly Hills Cop — Is television running out of ideas?

  1. Yer play’n a mug’s game when you decry reboots and re-workings. Most everything on TV has a history with what has come before.
    For example, George Bernard Shaw wrote “Pygmalion” that became “My Fair Lady”. It could be argued that Eliza Doolittle was the template for Ann Marie/”That Girl”, Carrie Bradshaw/”Sex and the City” or Jess/”New Girl”.
    The reason the shows you mentioned failed is because what they may have had that was unique about them the first time was there the 2ndthe time. A talking car? Those are on display at yer local car dealership and “Charlie’s Angels” had Farra.
    So to my being a fan of you… would that make me a “Christiean”? lol :-0

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    • Ha! A Christiean? I suppose that works. In regards to the column, maybe you’re right. Perhaps there really isn’t anything new any more. Shame.

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  2. Edit on my smartphone didn’t work.
    “Farra” should have read “Farrah” and “first time was” should have read “wasn’t” and “the 2ndthe” should have read “the 2nd time”.

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  3. There are only a few basic stories and everything else is just a variation of one (or more) of them. The re-make phenomenon has to, at this point, stop being called a phenomenon. It’s such established practice through the years (sometimes as far back as last year) that you can actually trace the variations and outright titled re-makes as reader Otto66 points out. So, saying we are getting tired ideas when we see fare such as the ‘new’ Beverly Hills Cop or the just announced (confirmed?) Girl Meets World, we are saying we are tired of being tired.

    Re-makes are all about skipping the setup. Presumably, the viewing audience already knows the basic situations and interactions we will be viewing in the next (few) year(s). It’s a wrong assumption of course. There is, in most situations, a generation who the creators NEED to appeal to that haven’t necessarily been old enough to see, understand and commit to memory all of the tropes and memes of the so-called original. But it’s expensive to spend TV time on explanations and the creative force in TV land doesn’t want to spend the money OR the time doing that.

    So, we get Beverly Hills Cop, the TV series. Not “Loose Cannon, Junior,” the show about the cop who tries to live down the legacy of his father, a noted loose cannon on the police force in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills or where ever. Starring will be Brandon T. Jackson, a rising presence in several well-regarded comedic movies this century. Guest starring in the pilot episode will be Eddie Murphy, the fading movie star who once played a loose cannon in the Beverly Hills Cop series of movies a generation ago.

    Same story, different title. Establishing Jackson’s character takes less time with the Beverly Hills Cop monicker because, once you have decided whether his character is the second coming or the antithesis of good ‘ol Axel Foley, you’re finished setting up and can move on to new episodes. Episodes, not stories. The success or failure of the series will depend on whether the creators can invoke the feeling of the original, while telling old stories well. There are NEW fans out there willing to jump on the bandwagon with the ones already there through sheer nostalgia.

    If, however, the story-telling isn’t compelling, everybody will be breaking ankles jumping off quicker than you can say “A young, virile Charley does not make for an Angelic experience.” And on to the next re-make, re-boot, re-imagining, re-whatever. It still comes down to good stories told well. Familiarity be damned.

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    • Sadly, Hollywood executives think like you do.

      Audiences hunger for something with a little originality and executives have convinced themselves (like you seem to have) that remakes are just good enough for them that it makes no difference to the final product to have such an obvious dislike for anything not a direct lift of something else.

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  4. I think the problem of the remake mania we have currently going on (in movies just as tv) is that networks chop new series so fast that people are more interested in proven series to be remade. And I think this is a pretty big problem, you can’t advance television without new ideas. I wish networks would just give up standard commercials and start just putting items into their series (kinda like Bones’ cars) so no matter if you watch it live, DVR-ed or downloaded for free that viewer still counts towards generating money. People watching for free or not live isn’t a thing that’s going anywhere.

    Can’t really fault people for remaking beverly hills cop when Unforgettable gets axed with 9-10m live viewers, 666 and Last Resort get axe w/o even trying other timeslots and you can have a series getting the axe with only 2 episodes aired.

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    • 9-10 million viewers is fairly mediocre ratings.

      Sorry, but that’s just what it actually is.

      The 9th Season of NCIS is getting close to 20 million viewers. CBS averaged last year over 10 million viewers.

      Unforgettable also kept dipping into the ratings (but don’t worry it IS coming back for a second low-rated season).

      As for the idea that networks are cancelling shows too fast, nothing could be further from the truth. The networks, when they were well-managed and successful, canceled shows extremely quickly.

      Today, shows like Fringe or ‘Til Death on FOX got four and five seasons respectively with 2 million viewers.

      When you renew or extend flops, you take away the possibility of finding something better.

      TV needs real hits, not low-rated shows kept on life support forever based on ageist PR claims of “good demos”.

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      • I’m going to respectfully disagree with you in regards to 9-10 million viewers being mediocre. It all depends on the channel. The CW would kill for those kind of ratings…and maybe even NBC. As popular as 30 Rock is, I don’t think it’s EVER seen ratings of that size. I believe CBS is a little different though. Their heavy hitters frequently see over 20 million viewers. However, I do agree with you about TV needing real hits. Ain’t that the truth? I wonder if we’ll ever get a network that has a TV season without any cancellations.

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        • Well, that’s the thing, 30Rock has NEVER been “popular”. Its alleged popularity was found only in NBC’s PR releases.

          It’s amazing that I keep reading how popular 30Rock is and how difficult it will be for NBC to do without it when it is getting 3 million viewers.

          You do make a good point about CW, but I think the way to look at it is that CW has been so grossly mismanaged (on the altar of “younger viewers”) that it now barely exists for most people.

          You also bring up a great point about cancelations. The problem the networks have right now is that they do not have enough money to properly program their airtime.

          That’s why they stopped programming Saturdays, and if CBS hadn’t made a determined effort to bring back Fridays from the Dead, most networks would not program Fridays either. All networks programmed re-runs on Premiere Week, which is insane if you remember how network TV used to be.

          The networks used to have a huge cache of replacement shows to try out and would cancel shows that weren’t hits so they could find the hits.

          When NBC keeps renewing 30Rock it deprives itself of the opportunity of finding a real hit.

          Multiply that with the insane number of flops being renewed [cough] Whitney [cough] Fringe… and you have an industry in secular retreat (even as it claims to be doing great).

          I could go into the problem with production budgets which have inflated to ridiculous sums even as ratings shrunk (10 million for Fringe’s pilot – why?!!!!) but that may be going too far off topic.

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  5. It’s not that there’s no new ideas. It’s that network executives HATE new ideas… or perhaps they just loathe them, or maybe highly dislike.

    In other words, if they see something original, it goes into the shredder instantly.

    The way the system works today, executives assume their new shows will tank and want to have a great excuse as to why it’s not their fault, so they hire “hip” producers (even if those producers, like Rob Thomas or Greg Berlanti, never deliver) and do remakes. After all who can blame them if a “proven concept” suddenly doesn’t work.

    Actually anyone with a modicum of sense would blame them as remakes as a group have a horrid track record, but apparently the higher-ups in the big conglomerate that control the networks don’t look any further than glowing articles in the press praising every low-rated show as some sort of super-hit, so here we are.

    Until executives are forced to face reality and realize the a modicum of originality is what makes for real success (and the press is very guilty of aiding and abetting that sad state) we will continue to get bad remakes produced by producers that flop.

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  6. This just in… Forbes is reporting that SYFY channel is looking at “WaterWorld” as a movie or series. T a l k about yer bad ideas.

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    • Thank you so much for illustrating my point!!

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  7. Man, I am with you in being in between the idea of CBS making Beverly Hills Cop a series. I liked the first movie and LOVED the second one. But I had the WTF face on the third. An amusement park? really. Anyway, I think the idea sort of grew on me. When I first heard about it, I thought why won’t Hollywood just make a BHC 4 as the rumors said it was in the making–poster and all–but hey, this may actually go over well, especially with Brandon T. Jackson as the leading man. He has some acting skill like you said and it’s nice that diversity is thrown in the mix. Let’s see what comes of this and hope for the best. Lord knows Eddie needs something worth while.

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  8. I think Television and Movie industries ran out of ideas a long time ago.

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    • It hasn’t. It is managed by people who think putting new ideas in production is going to get them fired.

      And they’re probably right.

      When you see how GE has so profoundly mis-managed NBC from First to Last Place, you understand how the conglomerates that, regretfully for the public, own Hollywood don’t have a clue as to what it takes to run a successful studio or network.

      CBS does a lot better than the rest because it’s its own company and Les Moonves is the only high executive in TV with a little bit of knowledge, but you can see even he is often tempted to give in to the trend and make shows nobody watches but the press loves.

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