James Bond? Dallas? 'Reboots' My Foot!

This publicity image released by TNT shows Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, left, and Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing in a scene from
This publicity image released by TNT shows Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, left, and Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing in a scene from "Dallas," on TNT. TNT begins the second season of its “Dallas” revival next month. The network said Tuesday, Dec. 11, that it will hold a funeral for Larry Hagman's memorable character at some point in the 15-episode season but that it hasn't been filmed or scheduled yet. Hagman died at age 81 over the Thanksgiving weekend. (AP Photo/TNT, Zade Rosenthal)

As 2012 drew to a close, people were talking (as usual) about the trends of the year's films and TV shows. The word "reboot" was oft mentioned -- wrongly, most of the time.

For the record, a reboot doesn't provide a sequel, but starts a series from scratch. Star Trek did it with some success in 2009, and a sequel to the Trek reboot will be released in May. Other reboots this year will range from Jack Ryan (with Chris Pine stepping into the shoes of Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) to Jack the Giant Slayer (which reboots a somewhat older hero for a modern audience, like Snow White and the Huntsman did).

We'll also have the Superman reboot, with a new cast and (presumably) a new version of the origin story. This is fitting, because superheroes tend to be rebooted. In 2011, DC Comics did a reboot of all their superhero comics, by having someone go back in time and change history. It meant that everyone started from square one. Superman and Lois Lane, who had been married for years, now met for the first time, as a pair of singles (and Superman started a relationship with Wonder Woman instead, which actually made sense). People who had previously died were alive once again, which tends to happen in comic books anyway. Not for the first time, everything was rebooted.

Now, we are supposed to believe, the same thing happened with all the big movie series in Hollywood, from Spider-Man to James Bond. A great observation, except it's not true. Sure, The Amazing Spider-Man was a reboot (he was a superhero, after all), taking him back to square one so we can see him bitten once again by that spider and turned into a wall-crawling superhero. James Bond, however, has only had one reboot in the past 50 years, and whatever you might have heard, it wasn't Skyfall, his latest movie. The Bond films have changed their tone over the years, but they usually haven't started from scratch.

Even though he was in action for decades, played by numerous actors, it was always clear that he was continuing his adventures rather than re-starting them. You didn't usually think of him as a widower, but his good friend, Agent Felix Leiter, mentioned it briefly in License to Kill, even though he'd been played by four actors since his wife's death.

Even when he returned in GoldenEye, with yet another new face, it was clear that he was still a former Cold War soldier, or as M described him so memorably, "a sexist, misogynist dinosaur". (Cruel, but probably justified.)

It wasn't until Casino Royale that he was rebooted. Not only did he have yet another a new face, not only did he begin his career in the twenty-first century rather than the Cold War, but he met Felix for the first time, and was betrayed by a woman, turning him into a misogynist for (presumably) the first time. Here was a new world in which Bond started afresh, he didn't need to be around 90 years old, and best of all, the entire Roger Moore era never happened. That's a reboot.

The British TV series Sherlock is also a major reboot because it starts from scratch, with Sherlock Holmes starting his career in the present day rather than modern times. The current Doctor Who is NOT a reboot because (even though history has changed a few times) it continued from the classic episodes of the past. The new series Elementary is a reboot, because it's another modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes, set in New York instead of London, with Watson played by Lucy Liu instead of Martin Freeman (which is a rather noticeable difference). Dallas is not a reboot, but a sequel series, with new cast playing the new generation.

Of course, it would be great if I could reboot my own life, so that I can start anew, make sure that only the good stuff happened in my past, and I don't have to live through the fashions of 1987. As I'm not sure how to arrange that, I will instead suggest ways in which classic movie and TV series could be rebooted for 2014 and beyond.

Gilligan's Island: In what must surely rank as one of Hollywood's most inevitable ideas, a movie will soon be made of this much-loved sitcom. Of course, Gilligan couldn't be deemed stupid, as they would be unfair to the intellectually disabled. It would have to be clear that he was actually dyslexic. Ginger, the movie star, would need to be regarded as more than just a sex object (which would be pure misogyny), so they'd make her an Oscar-winning, professionally respected, Cate Blanchett type. The Skipper, of course, should be African-American. As for Mary Ann: no, don't even think of changing her. Some things are perfect already.

Back to the Future: With the thirtieth anniversary of this popular movie trilogy just two years away, we should soon expect to see hoverboards, eighties nostalgia cafés and bookstore assistants who tell you about dust jackets for no good reason. But it's also time for a new movie about a teenager from 2015 who goes back in time to 1985 and has to bring his parents together. Get it? He goes back to the time the original film was made? Awesome! The scene where he invents grunge music at the school prom should be hilarious.

Laverne and Shirley: We could easily set this one in the present day. Make Laverne sassier, and have her talk about sex more often because we can get away with that nowadays. To give it some relevance, make Shirley a former rich kid whose father was thrown in jail. Rather than have them working in a brewery (because we don't want to encourage drinking among the youth audience), make them waitresses instead. Oh, and rename it 2 Broke Girls. Strangely enough, people might actually watch that.

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