Many shows have attempted a reinvention, but few have succeeded. Sometimes reinvention is a futile attempt to keep a show alive in its final season. Other times, it is simply a way to keep the show fresh so viewers won't get bored. Once in awhile, reinvention may be forced by a major change in the cast. Here are five shows that either survived a forced reinvention or survived because they reinvented themselves. Each of these shows continues to be listed as either "likely to be renewed" or "certain to be renewed" by TV By the Numbers.
When William Peterson left the series in Season 9, it seemed like a nice change of pace for a show that had been on the air for so long. When Laurence Fishburne arrived to take his place as the boss in the crime lab, Langston, the show didn't actually seem so different at first.
William Peterson and Laurence Fishburne are surprisingly similar in the tone of the characters they portrayed on the show. Perhaps to give the show a new life, Langston was written with a secret life that was just too implausible. The character was ruined, and the show seemed about to be ruined with him.
Then in Season 12, the cast was shaken up once again. Ted Danson arrived to take the Fishburne's place as the boss of the crime lab character, and that new breath of life came to fruition. Danson sets a whole new tone for the series as D.B. Russell, and the series continues to remain successful, once again.
"Supernatural" seems to change every season. What started out as a monster-of-the-week show in Season 1 became an epic battle between good and evil. Someone is always dying, returning from the dead, going to hell or purgatory, or having to deal with demon powers. The series was not expected to last beyond Season 5 but is now well into Season 8. If the show can continue to find new ways to portray the epic battle without losing the strong, beloved lead characters, it could go on indefinitely.
"Nikita," like "Supernatural," has continuously reinvented itself in order to keep the show fresh. In the first season, Alex worked from within division to help Nikita tear it apart. By the end of the first season, she had begun working outside division. Then Michael left Division to work with Nikita from the outside, as well. Then Alex hated Nikita for awhile, but then they made up. At the end of Season 2, Nikita killed Percy. That must be it then, right? Division was all about Percy. Well, not quite. Now there's a new guy in charge of the shop in Season 3. Expect to see many more reinventions as long as the show survives.
"Two and a Half Men" was forced to reinvent itself at the start of Season 9 when Charlie Sheen was fired. The entire premise has now changed, and the show continues to draw viewers. It is perhaps not going as strong as it once was, but it's still doing well enough to continue on into Season 10 and possibly beyond.
"Being Human" (U.K. version)
When one of the most-loved characters was killed off at the end of the third series ("seasons" are called "series" on BBC America), the show would never be the same. After Mitchell was gone, the program then took another surprising turn. Every single member of the original cast was replaced, completely reinventing the show. Somehow, it worked.
Each original character was removed and replaced slowly throughout Season 4, in ways that fit the storyline appropriately. Each new character was as well acted as the characters who came before them. The new stories were fresh. It was an amazing transition that resulted in the show being renewed for a Season 5. This is the only show in the list not displayed on the TV By the Numbers renew/cancel index.
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- Laurence Fishburne