Completely original material? TV programs that have absolutely no connection to already well-known shows or franchises? A title that no one has ever heard, featuring characters we’ve never seen before?
Hey, why bother. It’s much easier to tap into pre-existing properties, to come up with a reboot, or a revival, or a prequel, or a sequel — something that will have a built-in, pre-existing audience and some kind of “-verse” to enter. It’s simpler to devise, say, a prequel about Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” than it is to start from scratch — thus Netflix’s “Ratched.” It’s easier to revive “Sex and the City” so we can see what the characters are up to now, or bring back “Gossip Girl” and “True Blood” with new casts, or revisit the firm McKenzie Brackman in a continuation of “L.A. Law.”
I’ve written many times about cultural reflux of this sort, and I generally find it unexciting and derivative, to put it nicely. But it looks like I’m adapting, and I’ve started coming up with ideas for these “re,” “pre,” and “se” shows, and I may be a convert. It’s an addictive game, futzing with the legacy of great old shows and randomly borrowing characters from them in order to give them out-of-the-blue backstories. Here are some concepts to think about, Hollywood. They definitely are not insipid.
“Women” Since nobody got tired of Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath after five seasons, it’s way past time to bring her back to TV in a revival of “Girls.” Sure, Hannah has a son now, but don’t worry: She’ll move back to New York, continue to make plenty of big mistakes, still get naked a lot, and remain thoroughly entitled and self-involved. She will reunite with friends Jessa, Marnie, and, like, Shoshanna, for new betrayals and more post-”Sex and the City” sex and The City.
“Oz: The Trump Wave” The world of HBO’s “Oz” was a microcosm of racism, transactional bonds, and back-stabbing — literally and otherwise. So it’s time to return to the prison that’s nicknamed after L. Frank Baum’s classic, but, like the reboots of “Melrose Place” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” with a new set of convicts. In the “Emerald City” wing of Oz, we’ll catch up with criminally charged Trump-related characters, including Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon, who’ll take over the white supremacist prison faction from Verne Schillinger. There will be insurrection.
“Sally!” As “Mad Men” charted the 1960s through the lives of the Drapers, it was pretty melodramatic. But let’s get happy! It’s time for some Boomer glee with a fresh network sitcom that follows Sally Draper as a single woman in 1980s New York with a group of friends who become like family and are always there for her. Special guests from the “Mad Men”-verse will include Glen, a pal from the old days who happened to know Sally’s late mother quite well, and brother Bobby Draper, who is recently out of rehab.
“Sixteen Feet Under” This one picks up exactly where “Six Feet Under” left off — in 2085, at Claire’s death bed. What we didn’t learn in the original finale was that Claire’s consciousness had already loaded onto the Internet before she passed, and she continues to thrive digitally, in the same way her father continued to show up for chats after dying in the early oughts. Turns out Claire’s brother Nate’s daughter Maya’s granddaughter is looking into her ancestry, so Claire, a photographer with thousands of pictures at her disposal online, takes the young lady on a tour of her Fisher history. See how naturally and organically this sequel series comes together?
“House” Few would deny that the original “House” was one of the best network medical dramas, with its drug-addicted, crabby, brilliant doctor Sherlock-Holmes-ing the most difficult and mysterious hospital cases that came his way. OK, so Hugh Laurie was nominated for six Emmys for the role, which fit him to perfection and made him into a huge star; it’s time for a new actor to fill those shoes, like the time they brought back “Ironside” with Blair Underwood or the other time when they brought back “Bionic Woman” with Michelle Ryan. Side pitch: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” but without Larry David.
“Freak and Geek” It became popular primarily after its one-season run, so “Freaks and Geeks” deserves another go at TV. Everyone wants to know what happened to those kids after high school, just like everyone wanted to know about the folks from “Mad About You” and “Murphy Brown” in 2018-19. Well, it turns out Kim Kelly wound up marrying Bill Haverchuck and they are a sort of odd couple. (Note to self: Another “Odd Couple” reboot, now that “Two and a Half Men” is off the air.) By the way, the original creative team, including Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, is saying no to the whole idea. I can’t imagine why; it’s can’t-miss, don’t you think?