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Our favorite sci-fi TV reboots: 'Quantum Leap,' 'Lost in Space,' 'V,' 'Battlestar Galactica' & more
Some of our most-loved TV hits managed to get even better the second time around.
Nostalgia has a powerful pull — just ask Will Smith. The O.G. star of NBC’s original The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was an early believer in the short Bel-Air fan film that originally appeared as a bootstrapped passion project in honor of his classic 1980s NBC comedy. Fast forward four years to the present day, and now he's not alone: Bel-Air and its rebooted drama series concept has a fan base that's fully dialed in, perched over at Peacock for the start of its second full-length season.
Bel-Air is just the latest successful instance of a time-honored TV series that finds new life as a reboot, continuation, or tone-shifting reimagination. But it’s by no means the only one: As last year’s well-received revival of NBC’s Quantum Leap also proved, viewers have a healthy appetite for shiny new time-jumping versions of older television classics…especially when they live up to the lofty standards laid down by their old-school source material.
RELATED: As 'Bel-Air' returns, revisit Will Smith's top 5 sci-fi roles
Just like the Fresh Prince himself, we’re not immune to the charms of a good small-screen reboot, which is why we’ve readied this handy-dandy list of some of the best out there — complete with a special emphasis on sci-fi and genre series that’ve made the most of their TV comeback tours. Read on to see which second-chance series are worth a binge…and be sure to save the Feb. 24 date for Bel-Air’s Season 2 premiere at Peacock.
Quantum Leap (2022 - present)
Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) had a tall order in jumping headfirst into the sacred-lore territory of a sci-fi classic as beloved as Quantum Leap. But alongside a new cast (and a three-decade warp forward in the timeline), he’s taken the baton from original leaper Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) to show that the heady ideas that made NBC’s earlier series such a fan favorite never really go out of style. New physics-based mysteries abound as Ben hurtles from one historical moment to the next in the newly-revived series with creative guidance from original Quantum Leap creator Donald P. Bellisario, and it’s been an awesome ride so far. The new Quantum Leap airs episodes Monday nights on NBC, and has already been renewed for a second time-skipping season.
Lost in Space (2018-2021)
Put Netflix’s recent Lost in Space reboot in the bigger-in-every-way category: All grown up as an hour-long space drama inspired by the retro 1960s series of the same name, Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) and his stranded sci-fi family enjoyed a three-season small-screen run that cranked up the danger, dialed up the special effects, and (mostly) set aside the campy, low-fi feel of its wayback source material. Despite the big-budget grow-up, the key essentials remain: The new Lost in Space totally preserves the whole “space-family-Robinson,” stick-together vibe that made CBS’ classic show such a fun watch in the first place.
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
You can’t talk successful TV reboots without talking BSG. Ronald D. Moore’s amazing early-2000s space saga ran for four exhilarating seasons at SYFY (then known as The Sci-Fi Channel), scaling up the story from the Lorne Greene-led 1970s original series in just about every conceivable way, complete with a new Galactica crew led by the iconic Edward James Olmos (as Commander William Adama). In the process, the revived Battlestar Galactica became a cornerstone for the wider BSG franchise, so much so that many fans today instantly think of the SYFY version — even before the original ABC series — whenever someone name-drops Baltar, the Twelve Colonies, or Cylons.
Cobra Kai (2018-present)
Reboots are one thing, but picking up old story threads with the original characters who created them is something even better. Cobra Kai at Netflix does exactly that, dojo-dropping in on the now grown-up stars of The Karate Kid movies long after their 1980s coming-of-age tales launched them toward responsible adulthood. That of course means new Valley rivalries (and unexpected alliances) as Karate Kid opposites Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) train up a new generation of crane-kicking martial arts talent... all while grappling with the fateful echoes of their own childhood pasts.
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
Any excuse for a new David Lynch small-screen project would’ve hit our ear just fine, but joining Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) for a 2017 return to the Pacific Northwest turned out to be the ultimate Twin Peaks fan fantasy. Spooling out at Showtime across 18 episodes that blurred the distinction between its billing as a third season of the venerable series and a format-twisting extended movie, the revived Twin Peaks at last took fans beyond the cliffhanger ending of its early-1990s ABC predecessor. That’s not to say Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost laid all their story cards on the table, though: In true Twin Peaks fashion, Cooper and more quirky old-school characters (including the Log Lady!) dove deeper into the surreal mystery surrounding the wayback murder of small-town sweetheart Laura Palmer, while encountering even more strange new twists along the way.
Enormous UFO motherships, green-skinned space lizards, and alien tech that transcended humanity’s worst fears: Back in 1983, science fiction TV hadn’t seen anything quite like the outsized spectacle that the Kenneth Johnson-created V event series stirred when it first landed at ABC. With Johnson back on board once more for a short-lived series revival, the 2009 reboot of V thankfully didn’t mess to much with the key sci-fi ingredients that made its predecessor such an enthralling concept…especially that creepy, Trojan-horse bit about wearing human skin suits to sell people on the aliens’ whole “we come in peace” deception.
The Tick (2016-2019)
The real “Terror” might have been the gone-too-soon memories we’d forever have of The Tick in early-2000s live action — had it not been for Amazon’s 2016 series reboot, a new jaunt through comic creator Ben Edlund’s strange and funny superhero world. Peter Serafinowicz (aka The Tick) brought heart and real heroism to the role originally played by Seinfeld alum Patrick Warburton in Fox’s fun but short-lived 2001 earlier series (though Warburton himself returned for the Amazon show alongside Serafinowicz in an offscreen producer’s role). Smarter, funnier, and blessed with more inventive source material than most comics-based shows of any era, The Tick remains a slept-on sci-fi reboot that newcomers thankfully can still bite on: It’s available to stream anytime for Prime Video subscribers.
Saved by the Bell (2020-2021)
Packed with nostalgia and unafraid to boldly veer in bizarre directions for the occasional life lesson (or laugh), let’s just call Peacock’s 2020 Saved by the Bell a genre-adjacent revival we can get behind (though its worth nothing the OG series was plenty genre-friendly at times). Loaded with most of the core cast who made NBC’s early-1990s sitcom so endearing (including Mario Lopez as Slater and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris…who’s now the governor of California!?), the Peacock version puts young new faces behind the desks at Bayside High School while their 1990s forebears — now all grown up, of course — hang around to dole out the kind of astute advice their teenaged selves probably should’ve taken to heart in the first place.