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Top 10 Worst Shows That Need a Remake

A list of 10 small screen genre gems that should get a second chance.

By Rich Kuras     May 22, 2008

Cast of the 80's cult classic AIR WOLF.
© Universal TV

With remade versions of Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider enjoying great popularity and a big screen A-Team movie in the hopper, it appears there’s still a public demand for cheesy TV entertainment. With that in mind, we present our list of classic genre-related TV programs from the 80s that are screaming to writers, producers and Hollywood hotshots for a second chance at life.

1.         Airwolf


Plot: When he wasn’t kicking his pregnant girlfriend, Jan Michael Vincent played Stringfellow Hawke, the brooding loner working for a secretive government office and piloting Airwolf, a supersonic, bullet proof helicopter. It was Airwolf’s mission to fight crime around the globe.


Stars: After a career that peaked in the late 70s, Airwolf was about the last thing Jan Michael Vincent ever did. Santini was played by Ernest Borgnine, of Dirty Dozen and Wild Bunch fame, who is (at press time) still alive and working in TV, film and retirement homes.


Why it should be remade: With Riptide, Blue Thunder and Airwolf, America in the 80s dared to ask the question, how much helicopter related entertainment are we willing to accept? America again demands it but skyrocketing gas prices stand in the way.

2.         Tales of the Gold Monkey


Plot: Inspired from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jake Cutter is an island hopping pilot adventurer constantly trying to thwart Nazis before the start of WWII. One of Cutter’s friends is his one eyed dog. Cutter lost the dog’s eye in a poker game and one of his main goals is to get the pooch's eye back. Cutter’s other buddy was Corky, a pilot and loveable alcoholic. Really, is there any other kind of alcoholic?


Stars: This show launched the career of Stephen Collins, who has been seen in other shows like…Uh, er, um. Oh yeah, 7th Heaven…Not as if anyone would watch that show…


Why it should be remade: He battled Nazis and everyone loves to hate Nazis. America needs to know if the guy’s dog will ever get his eye back. With Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and National Treasure, this country loves the explorer-adventure series and an island hopping Jones wannabe is surely more interesting than Amazing Race.

3.         Remington Steele


Plot: Laura Holt is a smart private investigator. Since she is a woman, no one believes that previous statement and her business suffers. Undeterred by being another pretty dame in a man’s world, Holt invents the name Remington Steele. A thief trying to get out of a pinch assumes the identity of Remington Steele and then joins Holt and helps her solve crimes. And the rest is sexual tension history.


Stars: Pierce Brosnan went on to become a legitimate star with roles in the Matador, The Thomas Crowne Affair and as the second best James Bond in the 007 movies.


Why it should be remade: Every show on the air is some kind of crime scene drama. Why not bring yet another one back? Plus, British people are awfully charming.

4.         Blue Thunder


Plot: Taken from the movie of the same name, Blue Thunder is yet another ‘super helicopter’ piloted by LAPD bad boy Lt. Chaney and rookie sidekick Wonderlove, played by Dana Carvey. Butkowksi and Kelsey, played by Football Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and James “Bubba” Smith, drive a van around to provide some muscle.


Stars: Dana Carvey went on to become Church Lady on SNL, Dick Butkus went on to look like every guy who lives in Chicago and James Bubba Smith went on to star in the Police Academy Trilogy.


Why it should be remade: Helicopters nowadays spend too much time using their spotlights on crime scenes and not enough time blasting criminals with Gatling guns. As a result, our country is not nearly as safe or entertaining as it used to be.

5.         Misfits of Science


Plot: The Misfits is the story of a young group of science students who have superhero-like powers on the side. They work for a government think tank and use their powers and minds to fight crime.


Stars: Courtney Cox used this to become dear to America with Friends. Kevin Peter Hall (The 7 ft. black guy who could shrink to 3 inches) went on to play the Predator in the Predator films and Harry in Harry in the Hendersons.


Why it should be remade: The Superhero genre is as strong in pop culture as, well, a superhero. With Smallville and Heroes the only superhero shows, Misfits is a diamond waiting to be dug up.

6.         Automan


Plot: Walter Nebicher was a computer geek (before there was really such a thing) working for the police. Walter invents an artificially intelligent computer program named Automan (Who looks suspiciously like the guy from Tron). With a small flying robot, Cursor, Walter and Automan take out crime in the city.


Stars: Desi Arnaz, Jr. went on to do some episodes of Matlock.


Why it should be remade: With films like Terminator and The Matrix, computers are always getting the knock that they just want to take over the world. This is a good way to put computers back into a positive light.

7.         Manimal


Plot: Jonathan Chase is a college professor who can turn himself into any kind of animal he wants. Naturally, he uses his shape shifting powers to fight crime. The beauty of this show was when Chase would turn into a panther, it took almost half the show to do it.


Stars: Manimal star Simon MacCorkindale went on to star in the critically acclaimed Jaws 3D.


Why it should be remade: Since the demise of Wishbone, there is a huge chasm in television programming with animals trying to fight crime. How great life could be if you had a panther chasing down bad guys and/or giving out jaywalking tickets.

8.         The Master


Plot: An old ninja drives around America in a van with his upstart student Max looking to help people in need along their journey. Pretty much like Kung Fu, except they have a van and are ninjas.


Stars: In the 80s, Timothy Van Patten and the Van Patten family were the juggernauts of Primetime. Timothy (now Tim) is a director, most notably directing episodes of The Sopranos. Demi Moore made an early television appearance on the show. Ninja master Lee Van Cleef died in 1989.


Why it should be remade: When asked the question, ”what do you want to be when you grow up,” let’s be honest, lame kids want to be astronauts or firemen. The rest of us want to be ninjas.

9.         The Greatest American Hero


Plot: Lovable loser Ralph Hinkley is given a super suit by aliens. The catch? They forgot to leave an instruction manual on how to work the crazy thing. As a result, Ralph tries his best to fight crime while trying to figure out his powers.


Stars: William Katt played Hinkley who went on to star in House (the horror movie not the TV show) and Problem Child IV. Robert Culp, who played his FBI agent Bill Maxwell, can be heard anytime you play the game Half Life.


Why it should be remade: Before Heroes, this was the greatest TV hero show America had. The theme song alone is reason to resurrect this show but also watching a guy lose his powers and fly into the side of a building is television GOLD.

10.   V


Plot: Aliens who are looking to steal earth’s precious natural resources go toe to toe with mankind. Originally a mini-series, the series showcased a week-to-week chronicle of man’s struggle against the aliens.


Stars: Robert England, who played friendly alien Willie, went on to be Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason vs. Freddy films. Michael Ironside played Ham Taylor. You may remember him getting his arms ripped off by Arnold Schwarznegger in Total Recall or blowing up heads in Scanners.


Why it should be remade: Nobody ever grows tired of watching the human population do battle with life threatening aliens, and there are not really that many alien invasion shows on Prime Time right now. This could be easily remedied.


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Wolfbane 5/22/2008 12:50:25 AM
What a nastolgic trip. I have watched all those shows growing up. Except for The Master, which I never knew or don't remeber ever existed. Misfits was fun. Automan was dumb although the car was neat, I think I only watched the pilot episode of that one. Anyway, wouldn't it be neat to see a remake of V?
darkheart00 5/22/2008 1:03:14 AM
Remington Steele, Airwolf, Greatest American Hero, Automan, "V" and Manimal were fun 80's cheese but not even close to "awful". "Awful" will be the horrendous remakes or reimaginings that current no talent studio hacks will butcher these shows into. Battlestar Galactica is an anomaly. It is one of the best genre shows on television and I am now convinced Ronald Moore made a pact with Lucifer so that would happen. Seriously, how many crap remakes have we sat through over the years and then....bang, out of nowhere BSG nails it so right on the money perfect. He has the devil in him I tell ya....the devil.
ultrazilla2000 5/22/2008 1:05:27 AM
Fun article and great list of shows needing to be revived! V and V The Final Battle will always be my favorite made for television events hands down. It's just too bad the weekly series was crapped out so quickly and with such a low budget...they really killed it! I'd rather see some sort of well done continuation over a remake though...the original V miniseries is absolutely perfect in every way. I would really like to see a new Manimal, Misfits of Science, and Greatest American Hero though. And until recently I would have wanted to add a new Bionic Woman or Six Million Dollar Man to the list...but happened, and it SUCKED! Thank God the new Galactica turned out so well.
Redshirt1 5/22/2008 3:45:24 AM
I too loved most of these shows. Tales of the Gold Monkey was great. And it also starred Roddy McDowall of Planet of the Apes fame. Irony, I think not.
jfdavis 5/22/2008 4:35:11 AM
Funny. I was just saying to my roommate yesterday that they should do remakes of Manimal, as I really enjoyed the show, and Automan, because I really didn't... The demise of a good show like the Bionic Woman remake shows me that people aren't satisfied with cheese like we watched back then. These shows above were terribly cheesy but huge hits back then. We loved cheese back then and I still enjoy it now. Who needs realism in their TV shows?
avihandler 5/22/2008 5:11:02 AM
Manimal star Simon MacCorkindale went on to star in the critically acclaimed Jaws 3D. - Isn't "critically acclaimed" for Jaws 3d...a bit strong of a phrase when describing that movie?
ponyboy76 5/22/2008 6:02:13 AM
Dude, I think that was sarcasm. At least I hope it was. I think I`m too young for Automan or that Gold Monkey thing, but I remember the rest of them. V brings back fond memories of my Friday nights as a kid. Every Friday was Chinese takeout and V on NBC. It was the only night that my whole family got together to sit and watch TV. Good times, Good Times! I`d love to see V remade, along with Manimal, Remington Steele, and Greatest American Hero. While you`re at it, they need to remake BJ and the Bear. I loved that show. And the more and more I think about it, Dark Heart is probably right. Moore sold his soul, because BSG is frakkin Awesome!
Myrdinn 5/22/2008 6:26:11 AM
Misfits of Science Now, there's a memory. "But, the battery's NEW!" Anyway, a dark comedy spin would be fun, if done correctly. What most of those shows needs would be a direction, a four or five year story arc, to push the show, and push it into solid territory. Now, that being said, I'd like to see something with a really good villain (a la Dexter) play against any protagonist... ...oh, and I'd like to be the third to agree to DarkHeart's contention. Especially in looking at how the new Apollo is and has changed during the show and especially the last season. There's an angle being played there.
macgawd 5/22/2008 7:55:14 AM
I can remember watching every single one of these shows. Cheesy? Hell yes! Awful? Hell no! Looking back, I think that the '80's was an amazing time for experimental TV shows, and while most of these shows are based on silly concepts, they at least had heart. At that time, it seems that Hollywood was at least willing to throw just about anything against the wall to see what would stick--nowadays, all we get are cookie-cutter crime dramas and "reality" TV. Lame. Give me Lee Van Cleef as a Ninja any day.
Whiskeymovie 5/22/2008 7:59:52 AM
Misfits of Science was awesome...I used to love that show as a kid....wasn't Courtney Cox in that? That's the only one I would really care about a remake of.
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