Studios love remakes. They’re established properties with an existing fan base and there’s already existing brand awareness which increase the chances of an immediate success out of the gate. While remakes can work okay for the cinema screen, we can all agree that television remakes for the small screen almost always suck hard.
My belief is that while films can set trends, television is far more reactionary to the zeitgeist. Television shows generally succeed when they tap into the sensation of the moment. Recreating the magic of an older TV series rarely works as the remake isn’t tapping into what’s hot now, but rather is seeking to tap into the zeitgeist from something on the air 20-30 years ago.
Last year we saw the remake of Hawaii 5-0. It is one of the few remakes that have worked and while it hasn’t been a major ratings success, it has held its own and isn’t in danger of cancellation anytime soon. This year we now have a remake of Charlie’s Angels – and I’d be highly surprised to see this last longer than a season.
Each week on Charlie’s Angels, three foxy law enforcing ladies take on a mission issued to them by the mysterious Charlie which are intended to help someone in need. They’re aided by a man named Bosley and at the end of each episode the mission is tidied up nicely. It’s a simple format, but a very dull format.
Very little has been done to modernise Charlie’s Angels. The production looks a lot more slick and modern, but the fundamentals remain the same. The only real change to the show has been to change Bosley from a middle-aged man to a young and hunky lothario. If anything, the show feels more regressive than it had in the 70’s. Charlie’s Angels when first broadcast in 1976 was reactionary. It was born of a time following an era of womens liberation where women had fought for equality. The women in Charlie’s Angels were strong, proactive, and smart – but sexy as hell. Progressive women with really firm bums.
In 2011, we’ve moved beyond that. At least, a bit. 1976 Angels worked because it was sexualising strong women, whereas television in 2011 is more about strong women who can be sexual. While there is still a lot of cheap sexism that exists on television, the shows that resonate often do treat women in that way. Charlie’s Angels just doesn’t do enough to break down that barrier to make the show speak to modern times sensibilities.
The cast are all okay and the production style is rather nice. But there is nothing new here. If you’ve seen the old version of the show, you know completely what you’re up for here. As awful as the two Charlie’s Angels films from a few years ago were, at least they brought a playful sensibility to the concept and did something slightly different with the property. The 2011 Charlie’s Angels just feels tired, dull, and downright boring.
Charlie’s Angels makes its debut on Channel Nine tonight at 7:30pm.