Perhaps no decade has overstayed its welcome more egregiously than the 1980s. The party’s over, your guests have left, your spouse has gone to bed, and yet the ’80s are still jamming in your living room to Starship’s “We Built This City.” That’s not to say that everything from the ’80s was bad. Just most of it. The rest was mediocre. Yet for some reason, virtually every pop-culture property from the Reagan Era has been resurrected in recent years. Just last week, The Thing and Footloose were back in theaters, and though Footloose apparently proved to be harmless fun the second time around, the reimagining of properties already short on imagination has reached epidemic proportions. In the past two years, we’ve seen remakes, sequels, prequels and spoofs of The A-Team, Teen Wolf, MacGyver, Fright Night, Clash of the Titans, Conan the Barbarian, The Smurfs, and Arthur, just to name a few.
Though it’s difficult to pinpoint when our current infatuation with the 1980s began, I’m willing to blame 1999’s Inspector Gadget, one of the early needless adaptations and a template for the quality of recycled entertainment that followed. The Matthew Broderick-starring film was not good, in any respect, but was it even supposed to be? I mean, you remember the cartoon, right?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. We’re soon to be reintroduced to Red Dawn, Top Gun, 21 Jump Street, Short Circuit, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While other decades have similiarly been resuscitated by nostalgic adults in the studio offices that determine what plays in your local theater, the ’80s seem like a bottomless pit of creative crutches. Recently, though, there have been hints that we’re finally moving on to the ’90s — hello, Total Recall. But I’m not convinced. As long as there’s an Alf or a Goonies there for the re-picking, we can expect more of the same.
In fact I have a theory: the 1980s will not truly be exhausted until they remake Small Wonder. For those of you not familiar, this sit-noncom was about a conventional TV family in which the father (Dick Christie) invented a robot, Voice Input Child Identicant, that he tried to pass off as his daughter, V.I.C.I (Tiffany Brissette). She spoke with a robotic voice, was lightning quick, and had superhuman strength, but conveniently, no one ever figured out her secret.
For four seasons, the show made Mr. Belvedere seem like The Dick Van Dyke Show in comparison. V.I.C.I. would follow an instruction like a robot Amelia Bedelia, hijinks would ensue, the nosy neighbors would suspect she might not be a real girl — but everything would work out in the end. Admittedly, I watched the program occasionally, mostly out of curiosity: Did the people who owned the TV station know that someone was putting this program on the air? Was the station being held hostage while this was going on? Should we call the police?
But now, 22 years after it was scrapped, I urge Hollywood to give Small Wonder another look. Resurrecting the Worst Show of my childhood would indicate to me that there’s finally nothing else left. The cupboard is bare. I grew up in the 1980s once, and it wasn’t that awesome the first time around. It’s time we moved on, so that my own children can grow so fond of their own horrible entertainment that they buy tickets to the big screen remake 20 years later.