Retro is a huge word these days, especially in the geek community. Though I am not sure the exact moment that retro became such a popular thing, I know that my generation, those who grew up in the seventies, eighties, and even the nineties, are a large proponent of revisiting the time of our childhood, when some of our best memories were formed. I. for one, am very happy to be a part of that movement. I have stated it before, and I will continue to state it until the day I die, I loved growing up in the eighties, especially as a geek. There are a lot of things from the eighties that I still love and cherish to this day. I am always happy when I see something I loved from the eighties brought back, at least at first. However, the eighties were a vastly different time from now, and sometimes, things do not hold up as well I am sorry to say.
Whether it is because I am older, and my tastes have matured, or because there was a more acceptable degree of, dare I say, cheesiness back in those days, some of my favorite entertainment from my childhood does not hold up very well to scrutiny. Despite that fact, I still love the eighties, even if it is from a nostalgia perspective, I have rewatched some television shows and movies, and found myself cringing at times despite my love for them. For example, I am a huge Tranformers fan, and have been since the moment I first discovered them back in 1984, yet I have to admit that watching the cartoon now, I see the cheesy storylines and bad jokes that did not seem to faze me at all as a child. It is quite evident now, in my adulthood, what is meant when cartoons like this are referred to as half-hour long toy commercials. Another example would be shows like Knight Rider, or The At-Team in which I can now see the thinly veiled story formulas that both shows followed each week.
Yet, despite these factors that I have mentioned, I still to this day love all of these toy commercials and formula shows as the fun and light-hearted entertainment they were meant to be. Sure, Transformers, He-Man, and G. I. Joe may have been light on story, but the characters of those cartoons had a charm and likeability that simply cannot be denied, or replicated it would seem. The same can be said of Knight Rider, A-Team, and so many other shows I loved in the eighties. The shows were fun, exciting, and the characters really appealed to me. These are just some of the reasons why my favorite things from the eighties have stuck with me long into my adulthood, and why I get excited when I hear about one of them coming back in some way.
That excitement and joy has been a double-edged sword, however, when it comes to a frightening little word called “remake”, also known as a “reboot”. Remakes/reboots scare me because too often they are, plainly stated, not good. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing a property I loved as a child badly remade for modern times. Not all remakes/reboots are bad, however, and when a good one does come out, it makes me very happy indeed.
What makes the difference between a bad remake/reboot, and a good one you may ask? I would say that one of the main things that makes a differentiates a notable remake and an atrocious one would be the level of appreciation that the creator(s) has for the original material. For example, it is evident that Michael Bay has no true love for the Transformers, and that is why the movies have resulted in nothing more than destruction orgies that have missed the point entirely of what made the Robots In Disguise so appealing in the first place. Any Transformers fan will tell you that the true heart of the franchise lies in the characters that we all fell in love with as children. There is a reason why the death of Optimus Prime in the Transformers animated movie in the eighties had such a lasting effect on the children of my generation. We truly cared about the Transformers as characters, and not just as giant robots that could make big explosions.
On the opposite side of the coin, take a movie like The A-Team as an example of a good reboot. Admittedly, I originally expected The A-Team movie to be another attempt to cash in on a built-in audience without putting much effort into the film. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, however, that the filmakers actually attempted to capture the true spirit of the original A-Team TV series, and did so successfully I would say. It is evident that the people behind the A-Team movie actually cared about the original show, and I believe that came across as I watched the movie.
Another interesting aspect of the retro return would be a show like Ash vs. Evil Dead, a show that I highly recommend watching. AvE is not a remake or a reboot of the Evil Dead series, although they did do a reboot which I have not actually watched as of yet, but is rather a direct sequel to the original Evil Dead series. AvE keeps in the spirit of the original movie series perfectly, and brings back the elements of the Evil Dead series that fans fell in love with. AvE takes place thirty years after the movies, and fully embraces this fact, which is another thing that makes the show work beautifully. Ash vs. Evil dead is a perfect way to bring back a cherished series from the past, and other people who have inklings to revisit old series should definitely take note.
Speaking of revisiting old shows, I recently read that The Greatest American Hero will be revived soon, and I am both excited and hesitant about this. GAH was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, I can still remember every word of the themes song, and I am hoping beyond hope that it will be done right, and kept in the spirit of the original, and there won’t be a lot of unnecessary “updates” made that will change the show into something else completely.
Ultimately, retro can be both a good thing, and a bad thing, depending on what is revisited, and who is in charge of said revisit. The strangest thing about bringing things back from the past is that you never know for sure which way it will go. You can certainly make speculations based on the factors surrounding the revisited material, but you could easily find your speculations proving completely wrong. I try to reserve my judgement until I actually see the final product, but sometimes, it is difficult to not make a prejudgment given the circumstances of any retro revival.