Resurrecting Old Shows
Resurrections have been around for thousands of years, depending upon what you may have read. TV is now blessed (or plagued) with reboots of popular content or rehashes of old ideas made somehow new. This year, Roseanne returned with a painkiller addiction, biracial and gender-questioning grandkids and a Make America Great Again hat. Lost in Space went from bright, zany and comic to dark and twisted. The fall will bring back Magnum P.I., Charmed and Murphy Brown. But, in the meantime, some truly inventive, left-field pop culture resurrections have taken place. And some of them will help you see the light.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (Amazon)
Big trouble returns for Moose and Squirrel in this amped-up, frantic but still funny version of the 1959 ABC cartoon. Once again, Bullwinkle is an oblivious, brainless moose from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, and Rocky is his high-flying, squeaky-voiced and slightly smarter best friend. Through sheer dumb luck, Rocky and Bullwinkle manage to attract the attention of communist spies from Pottsylvania named Boris and Natasha, who consistently fail to destroy them or ever do anything right.
In Amazon's new series, the dumb moose shtick still plays well, though today's children apparently also require fast, screaming, crazy action alongside their wit. It occasionally feels less like Bullwinkle and more like The Powerpuff Girls. Someone is always farting, screaming, zooming or exploding, and it feels like overkill. Still, much of the spirit and humor remain intact, and the serialized nature of the series works to its benefit, particularly for binge watching. While it is not quite the gold standard that is the new, great DuckTales show, Bullwinkle is an old friend worth a visit.
COBRA KAI (YouTube Red)
The Karate Kid movies followed a familiar formula. Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) arrived onscreen in 1984 as a weakling underdog tortured by arrogant bullies like beautiful blond god Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the best fighter from the villainous Cobra Kai dojo. Taken under the wing of Mr. Miyagi, a handyman and secret sensei, Daniel learned the ways of karate, bonsai trees and Eastern philosophy and beat the heck out of all the rich pricks. It was Rocky with crane kicks and lots of fun for kids of the 1980s. YouTube's original series Cobra Kai, filmed here in Atlanta, kicks the original premise right in the face. And it is a blast of nostalgia and strong comedy.
Our hero this time is Johnny, now a fortysomething drunken deadbeat dad still haunted in many ways by his humbling losses to Daniel in 1984. Johnny still lives in Reseda, where he sees Daniel's growth into confidence and success as a kitschy, karate-chopping car dealer as a perpetual reminder of his own loss. Johnny, propelled by circumstance and unintentionally egged on by Daniel, resurrects Cobra Kai as the bullying, strike-first dojo from its glory days. Johnny drinks hard, hates rules and doesn't have time to mentor sweet, scrawny kids. He teaches them to be badass. And suddenly all the previous protagonists are antagonists, and all that high-minded Eastern philosophy feels like the stuff of chumps.
Cobra Kai is very entertaining, particularly if you like the original movies. Zabka is hilarious as a Bad News Bears-type hellion, and Macchio is also winning and sort of annoying as an underdog turned goody two shoes.
This expensive, ambitious and internationally filmed sci-fi show from the Wachowskis, the makers of The Matrix, has its gaggle of loyal fans whose devotion to it was so strong that Netflix has resurrected the canceled show for one last two-hour episode, set for June 8. So now we will finally find out how the eight people from all over the world - connected psychically and able to communicate - will resolve the perpetual danger they face.
The show is fascinating, a deeply contemplative look at identity, gender, sexuality, attraction, empathy and world culture. Fans demanded a finale, and it should be satisfying - though the Wachowskis originally wanted five seasons to say all they wanted. But getting closure is better than a cliffhanger.