I happened to snag a preview screener of the first couple episodes of the new season of The City, the Hills spinoff, which debuts its second season tonight. I had seen one episode of the Whitney Port show last spring and was unimpressed. (I vaguely recall an interchangeable cast of models and Adrien Grenier-lookalikes.) But I was flabbergasted to discover that The City is now a completely different show. Gone are the expressionless droidettes and the boyfriend drama. Completely off the radar (or off of my radar, anyway), The City has morphed into a surprisingly compelling workplace drama about trying to succeed in the fashion industry. It’s basically How to Make it in America without all the denim and the art galleries, and it’s gotten me thinking: What other TV series revamps have actually worked?
The City isn’t the first TV show to completely reboot its concept. David E. Kelly famously fired practically the entire cast of The Practice and brought in James Spader for that show’s last season, which turned into a trial run for the Boston Legal, the frothier Shatner-tastic spinoff. Most successful high school shows have to go through some kind of reboot when the characters graduate: One Tree Hill skipped forward in time, Gossip Girl and Beverly Hills, 90210 went to college, and The O.C. parted ways with Mischa Barton. And then there’s Scrubs, which changed its cast and its setting for the current (and not-much-loved) season. 24 basically rebooted itself every season, if not in the middle of a season (I’ll never forget the season 6 episode when the plot switched from “get the terrorists!” to “fight the Chinese government!)
So PopWatchers, are there any TV revamps that you’ve enjoyed? Generally speaking, it’s a sign of a flailing production, but sometimes a revamp can serve as a healthy throat-clearing exercise. And do you have any revamp cures for current shows? Maybe The Tudors can transform into a show about the French monarchy?