NBC Exec Explains Why They Don't Really Like Rebooting TV Shows

will and grace revival
(Image credit: Image courtesy of NBC)

Reboots and revivals are all the rage on the small screen nowadays, and it seems like not a week goes by without news of another prospective reboot going into development. It's no surprise that the reboot trend continues; such shows have been major successes for a number of networks, and many have built-in audiences who were fans of the original project. NBC was home of one of the most successful reboots/revivals in the 2017-2018 TV season with Will and Grace, but NBCUniversal International Studios president Jeff Wachtel revealed that they're not wild about reboots, saying this:

We would rather not do reboots. We prefer an original vision. In this kind of super-saturated media environment, any advantage you can get to break through [makes sense]. But I do think there is a risk of leaning too far that way. On the USA Network, we studiously avoided reboots. We asked, 'What used to work, and how do we do our version of Columbo, Murder She Wrote?' We were lucky to find an incredible script in Monk. There is something more fun, more energizing to creative executives to figure out what really is the new version these days.

NBC simply prefers original visions for its programming, including its satellite networks like USA. In his comments at the Banff World Media Festival (via EW), Jeff Wachtel acknowledged that reboots can give advantages in the current TV market, as is clear with projects like ABC's now-cancelled Roseanne and NBC's own Will and Grace. That said, NBC doesn't want to lean too much on reboots or revivals, and that apparently has been the rule for quite a while.

Jeff Wachtel specifically mentioned using Columbo and Murder She Wrote as inspirations for the USA series Monk, which was a detective series starring Tony Shalhoub as the titular Adrian Monk. Notably, Monk debuted in 2002 and ran for eight seasons before coming to an end in 2009. The 2002 premiere means that Monk kicked off well before the reboot craze of recent years and proves that NBCUniversal has been resistant to recycling old properties for a long time now.

In the case of Monk, a reboot was not needed for a successful series. Monk held the record for the most-watched scripted episode in cable TV history with its series finale for years, and that record was not broken until The Walking Dead in 2012. It was also nominated for no fewer than 18 Emmys, winning eight, including three for Tony Shalhoub as Outstanding Lead Actor. Who needs a Columbo 2.0 when there's the possibility of great original series?

NBC has several new series slated to hit the broadcast TV airwaves in the fall, including Manifest, New Amsterdam, and I Feel Bad. Viewers will also find Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC at some point after the Peacock Network rescued it from Fox's cancellation. It's obviously much too see to predict which of these will or will not be hits, and NBC will have more of the Will and Grace revival in primetime as well.

Many broadcast shows are currently on hiatus for the summer, but you can find your current and upcoming viewing options on our summer TV premiere guide. For some streaming options, swing by our Netflix premiere schedule and 2018 rundown of Amazon Prime dates.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).