These 10 forgotten TV reboots of the 1980s prove Hollywood has always been into recycling

The Bradys and Bret Maverick both returned for brief runs in the Reagan Era.

Images: The Everett Collection

Magnum, P.I., MacGyver, Murphy Brown, Cagney and Lacey — are we talking about television in the 1980s or the upcoming fall schedule for CBS? It's impossible to tell anymore!

It seems as if we have reached the Peak Reboot era in pop culture. There are dozens more to name as evidence, from Top Gun to The Addams Family. But this overlooks one key fact — Hollywood has always done this. What do Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, M*A*S*H, Batman and Wagon Train all have in common? They're all technically reboots, or at least TV adaptations of hits from other media. 

Classics can come from old ideas. That being said, nothing on this list likely qualifies as a classic. In the 1980s, networks repeatedly attempted to turn blockbuster movies and old shows into fresh television series. One reason for this was the debilitating Writers Guild of America strike in 1988. A lack of new content forced networks into reusing not just old concepts, but old scripts.

Some of the following shows became somewhat successful. Others washed away quickly. Did you watch any them?

1. The Brady Brides

1981

The Bradys never truly went away. After the iconic sitcom ended, the cast transitioned to The Brady Bunch Hour variety show in the 1970s. The late 1980s would bring A Very Brady Christmas, which would lead into The Bradys, a reboot with the original cast in 1990s. Not long after, The Brady Bunch Movie came along and… well, you get the idea. Overlooked in all that is The Brady Brides, a sitcom spun out of the 1981 made-for-TV movie The Brady Girls Get Married. Most of the clan was missing, as the show centered around Marcia (Maureen McCormick) and Jan (Eve Plumb), and their new hubbies. Carol and Alice often popped in, but without the full family, this story of two lovely ladies only lasted a couple months.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. Bret Maverick

1981

James Garner slipped on his black suit once again to play the loveable Western rogue. This Maverick reboot in some ways was more of a Rockford Files reunion, as it featured that show's Stuart Margolin and Jack Garner (the star's brother) in recurring roles. Jack Kelly, who headlined half of the original Maverick episodes as Bart Maverick, briefly appeared at the end of the first season, as the producers intended to give him a larger role moving forward. But a second season never came.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. Stir Crazy

1985

The brilliant talents Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor made Stir Crazy one of the biggest blockbusters of 1980, as the comedy had earned ten times its budget. So why not turn it a TV show? Well, for starters, Larry Riley (pictured, top) and Joseph Guzaldo were not exactly Pryor and Wilder. Which is why this lasted a mere nine episodes.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. The Twilight Zone

1985

The biggest success story on this list, the Twilight Zone revival came to be even after Steven Spielberg's Twilight Zone: The Movie disappointed at the box office in 1983. Despite Rod Serling's death a decade earlier, the TV reboot featured an impressive pedigree. George R.R. Martin and Harlan Ellison wrote scripts, based on stories by giants like Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke. Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Joe Dante (Gremlins) and William Friedkin (The Exorcist) directed episodes. Guest stars included everyone from Bruce Willis to Martin Landau. And yet… Mr. Belvedere beat it in the ratings. "You have not known humiliation until you have been beaten by Mr. Belvedere," one contributor noted. Still, it lasted three seasons.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Gung Ho

1986

Scott Bakula took on Michael Keaton's role in the TV adaptation of Ron Howard's blue-collar comedy. Gedde Watanabe, perhaps best known for his role in Sixteen Candles, did reprise his big-screen role. Clint Howard was also onboard, but without Ron at the helm and Keaton in the star's trailer, only nine episodes came off the production line.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. Starman

1981

Robert Hays of Airplane! took over Jeff Bridges' alien role in this sci-fi dramedy for ABC. Fun fact: Michael Douglas (yes, that Michael Douglas) served as executive producer on this one-season wonder.

Image: The Everett Collection

7. Dirty Dancing

1988

Viewers did not have the time of their lives with this quick cash-in that came a year after the smash Swayze flick. The only major thing of note is perhaps that the TV version starred Melora Hardin, who modern audiences know best as Jan on The Office. Oh, and Patrick Cassidy, who had the massive task of taking over for Patrick Swayze, is the son of The Partridge Family's Shirley Jones and brother of Shaun Cassidy.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. Mission: Impossible

1988

Before Tom Cruise turned the 1960s spy caper into a blockbuster franchise, CBS launched a moderately successful revival in 1988, in the midst of the writers' strike. Peter Graves returned as Jim Phelps, leading a young IMF squad. The show did spawn a solid Nintendo adaptation with the Mission: Impossible cartridge for the NES, one of the better Hollywood game adaptations of the era.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. Police Story

1981

The strike also led to this revival, which was pure recycling. ABC simply took four old Police Story scripts from the 1970s and refilmed them as fodder for the ABC Mystery Movie. That being said, those were solid scripts, and the casting was impressive, featuring unlikely duos such as Robert Conrad and Benjamin Bratt, seen here in "Gladiator School."

Image: The Everett Collection

10. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

1981

The Writers Guild strike affected comedy, too. Dick and Tom Smothers returned to the airwaves two decades after their original groundbreaking variety show. The guest list likewise blended the 1960s with the 1980s, featuring faces like Shelley Long, Victoria Jackson and Harry Anderson alongside the likes of Little Richard and Jack Lemmon.

Image: The Everett Collection

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