Many Happy Returns: New Episodes of Old Shows Worth Watching

CSI VegasHere’s the worst-kept secret in media today: there is a lot of stuff gushing out of your various screens every damn day. But only a small percentage of that stuff is worth your time… and an even smaller percentage of that is stuff that’s coming back for a second or third of fifteenth season — new episodes of old shows that are still worth watching. Here are three examples.

Abbot Elementary on ABC and Hulu. Some shows have a great first season, with everything just popping right along, and then for whatever reason kind of lose the magic in a second or third year. I am happy to say that ABC’s Abbot Elementary, back for a second season, hasn’t lost a thing. If anything, it’s even sharper and sweeter than it was in the first season. The mockumentary format, that could have gotten old real quick, as it so often does, actually takes a step forward this season, and the will-she/won’t-she relationship that Janine and Gregory is getting past that, into something a little more interesting, and Quinta Brunson, the star and creator, is giving other members of the ensemble cast a change to move forward and grow a bit So all in all – really good to see it back and so strong.

Night Court on NBC. Other shows start out, eh, mezzo-mezzo in the beginning and take a while to really start hitting on all cylinders – hey, there’s an outdated metaphor, right, kids? In the old days good shows from strong producers were give a chance to find their feet. If you are old enough to remember the first season or so of Seinfeld – and yes a few of us still survive from those legendary days – it was not good, really not working at all… but they figure it out, and by seasons two or two-and-a-half it, was in fact, the damn good show that we remember even today, mimuglemubml years later.

The same on a much smaller and more modest scale can be said of Night Court on NBC. It showed up last year with a fair amount of ballyhoo, especially because of the return of John Laroquette as the insufferable defense attorney Dan Fielding – sadly one of the few actors from the original show, back during its nine seasons – jeez! – from 1985 to ‘93 – who is still alive. That and Melissa Rauch, a great character actress who was woefully underused on The Big Bang Theory, as almost everyone was, who hit the ground running as Harry’s daughter who has taken her deceased father’s bench. All good actors, with many of the show’s original writers and producers on board… but you know, it just didn’t click, at least not at first.

And here’s the good news: for whatever reason and I have no idea what that might be … it’s clicking much better in season 2. Faster and funnier, popping right along, everybody working together even better and not trying so hard. Maybe finally getting out from under the shadow of the legendary original show. And some recent cameos by folks from Big Bang and Night Court have been fun, too. So if you drifted away last year because it just wasn’t doing it for you… give it another look. See if you like it more the second – uh, third – time around, And finally:

CSI Vegas on CBS and Paramount+. A lot of these ‘revived’ shows from decades past just haven’t worked for me whether it was Magnum PI or Hawaii Five O or whatever. So I was filled with dread at the announcement that CSI was coming back in any form, But last year, with a melding of old cast and new, came back pretty strong. Just as unrealistic and unbelievable in its portrayal of forensic science and CSI departments as House was in its portrayal of differential diagnosis or hospital life, but hey – who cares? It was fun and weirdly informative and you could even pretend you learned something some of the time.

Well, the new season of CSI Vegas is back on CBS, and still clicking right along. It picks up and resolves – mostly – the cliffhanger from the end of last season, sets a few more land mines along the way, and makes me look forward to another few weeks of mad science and miraculous timing. And yes, it’s especially nice to see Marg Helgenberg back. I’ve loved her work since China Beach and The Tommyknockers, and if that isn’t a deep cut, then nothing is.

So there you go: three shows, two solid hours a week, of things to seek out and watch. Let me know if any or all work for the TV addicts among us. I can really only think of a couple of other shows I’ actually looking forward to returning – The Rookie on ABC, Animal Control on FOX, both next month and Evil on CBS or Paramount Plus in May. And that’s about it for the normal, previous linear channels. Which is a pretty sad state of affairs.


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