The Single Guy, Suddenly Susan, The Naked Truth, Boston Common: How about a little love for the “buffer” shows of NBC’s Thursday Night “Must See TV” line-up? These were the forgettable sitcoms scheduled between the beloved likes of Seinfeld, Friends, and ER, the vapid, formulaic series that coasted — often for multiple seasons — on cushy time slots, back before DVRs and Hulu, when a show could actually bank its success on people being too lazy to change a channel. There’s gotta be some leftover goodwill towards these duds, particularly if they can get back some of those before-they-were-famous co-stars (including Amy Ryan, Zach Galifianakis, Kathy Griffin, Sherri Shepherd, and, um, Dan Cortese). The numbers they were putting up would top the Nielsens now; Suddenly Susan got an average of 6.6 million viewers a week in its last, lowest-rated season, which would make it #2 this week. NBC has completely given up the “Must See TV” sitcom lineup; let’s revive it, but with the shows you could actually bring back!
Dave’s World: Fun fact: during the third season of this TV series based on the life and writings of popular humor columnist Dave Barry, the real writer and his real wife (who shared the name of his TV wife) divorced. The show didn’t acknowledge this little ripple — which sounds like a golden opportunity for a gritty, warts-and-all reboot if I’ve ever heard one.
Arli$$: To be clear, this seven-season shitshow wouldn’t get revived on HBO, which certainly isn’t as desperate for original programming as it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But if NBC is really gonna get into the business of rebooting other networks’ bad sports-centered Dad-fan sitcoms, they might as well go all in, eh?
Parker Lewis Can’t Lose: This, friends, is a nostalgia two-for-one. Parker Lewis, which ran from 1990 to 1993, was a clear rip-off of the 1986 hit movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (itself adapted into an official, far less successful series that same fall), so by bringing back Parker Lewis, Fox would not only get your ‘90s nostalgia audience, but an ‘80s one too. All of this is assuming, of course, that star Corin “Corkey” Nemec isn’t too busy — ah, well, looks like his most recent credit is the forthcoming SyFy original movie Lake Placid vs. Anaconda , so yeah, I think we’re good.
Baby Talk: Another buy-one-get-one-free, ‘90s nostalgia-wise: the troubled, two-season TGIF adaptation of the Look Who’s Talking franchise, again exploring the endless possibilities for wackiness when we hear the thoughts of a tiny baby! (This was what passed for high concept in the ‘90s, you guys.) Said thoughts were spoken by Tony Danza, who never goes out of style, and maybe even supporting player George Clooney can be coaxed back, assuming he’s had enough time to get over getting fired (along with, no kidding, the rest of the cast) at the end of the first season.
Cop Rock: You probably didn’t watch this notorious fiasco, which reimagined the weekly police procedural with Broadway-style songs and dances. But you’ve also probably at least heard of it, and frankly, that’s good enough in today’s desperate network TV climate!
Matlock: Running 195 episodes over nine seasons on two networks, this Andy Griffith-fronted courtroom drama is something of a go-to punchline for “things old people love” (see Simpson, Abe). But don’t snicker at that aging demo: they’re among the very few people who still watch television live, and thus bring shows high marks on the outdated Nielsen ratings system, which is why those charts are dominated by the olds-friendly likes of CSI and NCIS and their many, many spin-offs. That’s why fusing them is such a no-brainer — just cast an aging sitcom fave as Ben Matlock (what’s Kelsey Grammer up to these days?), put him in one of those fancy crime labs, have him peer at their computer screens and high-powered microscopes and occasionally ask what that deal there means, and you’re golden.
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer: I mean, as long as we’re reviving ‘90s sitcoms, we might as well revive the worst one.
You’re welcome, television execs; please send my finder’s fees to Flavorwire, 594 Broadway #1212, NY, NY 10012. Happy rebooting!