This week, three new genre shows debut that are just old stories with a face lift. MacGyver, The Exorcist and Westworld join an ever-increasing panoply of television series that are simply retreads of tales we’ve heard before, and while I am a sucker for such things and watch – I am not kidding – ALL OF THEM, it is worth noting that there are more than forty original genre television series currently in production that are not really original at all.
Here, a list of each network’s transformative offerings:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (sadly, no more Agent Carter – sigh). Plus, Once Upon a Time is basically the adaptation of EVERYTHING.
Non-Genre Adaptations: Secrets & Lies, Notorious, Fresh Off the Boat
Much like Once Upon a Time (indeed, A LOT like Once Upon a Time) Grimm – which starts its sixth and final season in January – is pretty much firmly anchored in the adaptation camp as well.
Zoo, based on the James Patterson novel, as well as the ill-advised MacGyver reboot. ILL-ADVISED, people!
Non-Genre Adaptations: NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans as well as Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders are all based on other shows. There is also Hawaii Five-0, Elementary, Scorpion, Bull and the upcoming Training Day, based on the film.
Fox is well and truly on the adapt-or-die bandwagon, with Sleepy Hollow, Gotham, Wayward Pines, Lucifer and The Exorcist all on the schedule.
Non-Genre Adaptations: Lethal Weapon gets a youngified reboot this year, plus there’s 24: Legacy and the return of Prison Break, scheduled for 2017.
All except one of the CW’s original scripted dramas are actually adaptations, with Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl all being DC Comics, iZombie (returning for a third season at some point, we are assured) being DC Vertigo, The Vampire Diaries coming from the books by L. J. Smith – and The Originals coming from The Vampire Diaries – as well as The 100, based on the novel by Kass Morgan. And upcoming we have Frequency, based on the film, and Riverdale, based on Archie Comics. (Supernatural is the lone unadapted series. Although…)
Non-Genre Adaptations: Jane the Virgin and yes, even Reign, given that it is based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
More comicness here, with IDW’s Wynonna Earp and the launch this week of Van Helsing, based on the Zenescope comic. And you know TV adaptation is running amok when the sentence “based on the Zenescope comic” is a thing people are writing now. There is also The Expanse, based on the space opera novels of James S. A. Corey, and 12 Monkeys, based on the Terry Gilliam film.
Game of Thrones, obviously, and The Leftovers, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, who co-created the show.
Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones and the upcoming Marvel’s Luke Cage will be joined in fairly short order by Marvel’s Iron Fist and the crossover miniseries Marvel’s The Defenders in 2017, with Marvel’s The Punisher coming later. Netflix also offers up a bunch of retooled kids’ stuff, including Voltron: Legendary Defender and shows based on breakout characters like King Julien from the Madagascar movies and Puss in Boots from Shrek. And Star Wars: The Clone Wars got a new life here.
Non-Genre Adaptations: House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Marco Polo, Wet, Hot American Summer
FX has The Strain, from the vampire novel trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Non-Genre Adaptations: Fargo, of course.
The Walking Dead, based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Fear The Walking Dead, its spinoff, Preacher, based on the DC Vertigo title and Humans, based on the acclaimed Swedish series Real Humans.
Non-Genre Adaptations: TURN: Washington’s Spies, Better Call Saul and Into the Badlands, which is “loosely based” on the ancient Chinese morality play Into the West.
Teen Wolf, the upcoming sixth season of which will be its last, and Scream, based on the film. Also there is The Shannara Chronicles, based on the novels by Terry Brooks.
The Librarians, based on the series of films, and the apocalyptic The Last Ship, based on the novel by William Brinkley.
Non-Genre Adaptations: The upcoming Animal Kingdom, based on the Australian film of the same name, and Major Crimes is a spin-off of The Closer.
Star Wars Rebels! Plus there’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the upcoming Big Hero 6 animated series. Life really is full of synergy now that Disney owns Marvel.
From Dusk Till Dawn, y’all.
Oh, and how’s this for a fun fact? Over 75% of current genre television offerings are based on one form of source material or another. Wait, did I say fun? I mean disturbing.
Because I have to watch them all.