How to Refresh a Reboot – Without Alienating the Audience

Tom FarrellTom Farrell, CEO of The WorkShop and Co-Executive Producer of TLC’s Trading Spaces revival, was also the showrunner for the original series. How do you refresh a classic without alienating the original core audience? A mix of something old, something new, Farrell tells Cynopsis.

Cynopsis: What’s the right recipe for non-scripted series reboot?

trading spacesTom Farrell: Of course, there is no one single secret sauce that applies when reboots are concerned. But I do believe that esthetically, non-scripted reboots have to embrace a modern look and feel to help attract new viewers. Structurally the series needs to remain true to its core tenets as to not alienate the viewing audience that made the show successful in the first place.

Graphically, much has evolved during the last 15 years. When we launched the original Trading Spaces there was no such thing as 4K; however, today I believe that viewers watching premium content only expect the quality 4K delivers. So in order to make the rebooted show fresh for TLC a new graphics package (i.e., opening title sequence, transitional graphics and the like) had to be included in the new version. 

Cynopsis: Are there differences between the strategies used for scripted versus unscripted reboots?

Farrell: I don’t actually see many differences between the two. It’s all about gathering up the original cast and looking to have as many of the original production team involved with the reboot as is possible. Look at Roseanne:  They were able to bring almost the entire original cast, many of the writers and look what that reboot accomplished.  With Trading Spaces, we strived for and came back with Paige Davis, Ty Pennington, Vern Yip and many of the core team responsible for the initial version. 

Cynopsis: What series that you did not work on would you like to reboot?

Farrell: You know, I would really love to reboot the old ABC Saturday afternoon series Wide World of Sports. Jim McKay, Chris Schenkel, Bill Flemming… I used to watch every episode. Who doesn’t like the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?


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