After watching the reboot success of “Will and Grace,” “One Day At A Time,” and other sitcoms, Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt and showrunner Peter Tolan have made a deal to bring back “Mad About You,” two decades after it ended its original seven-year run. The new series will focus on the Buchmans as middle-aged empty-nesters with a grown daughter. No word on whether Richard Kind, Leila Kenzle, John Pankow, and Ann Ramsay will reprise their supporting roles.
As a fan of the original series — at least the first few years, before drifting away — I would have liked to sample the new version. Unfortunately, since the principals and Sony TV made an exclusive deal with Charter to put the show on a channel called Spectrum Originals, it looks like I won’t get a chance, since I’m not a subscriber. This will severely limit its potential audience, but options elsewhere must have been very limited (apparently, NBC wouldn’t cough up the bucks to bring back the Buchmans).
Too bad neither Amazon nor Netflix bought it. I feel the same way about “The Handmaid’s Tale” and other shows on Hulu, as well as Jordan Peele’s upcoming reboot of “The Twilight Zone,” which will only be available on CBS All Access, another over-the-top streaming service that I don’t (and won’t) subscribe to.
For all I know, there are similar outlets at other TV providers, full of programming most of us neither know about nor have access to. In every case, viewership expectations have to be lower, which must be fine with both the creators and distributors (at least they have a deal somewhere). But as consumers, there are only so many of these suppliers we’re willing to pay for, and so many hours in the day to consume the overwhelming amount of content floating around, desperate to be watched by someone, anyone, anywhere.
Since we’re U-Verse customers, I just went and looked to see if AT&T has some original series, too, and was shocked to find several that air on its Audience Network. According to its website, AT&T Originals include “Condor,” “Loudermilk,” “You Me Her,” and a Stephen King series, “Mr. Mercedes,” headed for a third season. Not only did I not know about those shows, I didn’t even know about that channel!
In the case of both Charter and AT&T, I wonder what the business plan is in putting these shows on their own networks. Is it to get customers to drop the competition and sign up with them? Are any of these shows strong enough to justify enduring the pain of making the switch, which means dealing with the other company’s arrogant service representatives? Doubtful. For most of us, if we never spoke with another agent for a TV provider again, our lives would be much happier — and neither Mr. Reiser nor Ms. Hunt nor Mr. King is likely to change that.
On the other hand, the Reiser-Hunt reboot would have made more sense if AT&T had bought it and changed the name of the show to “Mad About U-Verse.”