The first entry in my ongoing series, “Nobody Asked for This,” for this week comes from ABC, who have suddenly seen a bit of an uptick in respectability with black-ish, one of the best sitcoms on TV currently. As much good will as the Anthony Anderson-led show may have given the channel, however, they have dulled that very same good will with a series of not-great programming/production ideas, the worst of which being today’s announcement that they are moving forward with a newfangled Fantasy Island reboot. Mind you, this would be the second time that ABC has walked down this path, as a Malcolm McDowell-fronted reboot lasted for all of one season on ABC in 1998. The original series, which starred Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize, ran for an inexplicable seven seasons between 1977 and 1984.
The new take on the series, the pilot of which was written by Up in the Air scribe Sheldon Turner, would focus on a female lead, turning McDowell and Montalban’s Mr. Roarke into a presumable Ms. Roarke. Beyond that, as Deadline reports, the latest reboot will not be set on an island, but would rather use Fantasy Island as the name of a high-tech company that creates digital fantasy settings for clients. This is a pretty lazy and brazen attempt to make the series timely, mirroring a world where people can use the Oculus Rift to fulfill their wildest fantasies. On the other hand, if the series took an insightful and detailed view of a powerful female exec working in the tech corridor, an arena not particularly famous for having women in seats of power, ABC might have something here. In all likelihood, however, the series will follow the template of most sci-fi drama-thrillers, with a season-long arc that suffocates the day-to-day drama of the series. We’ll have to wait and see, but the fact that this would qualify as strike two on this particular property does not bode well.