Leave it to Robert Zemeckis to try something new -- and really cool -- with a TV sitcom.
It was announced last August that the filmmaker behind movies like Back to the Future and Contact would be executive-producing a live-action reboot of the classic animated sci-fi series The Jetsons for ABC. The show is now in the development stage, and ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told reporters at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter presentation that even though the show will be filmed in front of a live audience in traditional sitcom style, the idea is to incorporate the kind of visual effects you'd expect from a sci-fi property:
"That is what I’m really looking forward to hearing. The team has already had a number of conversations with Zemeckis and the rest of the group. They have some really good ideas about how they want to pull that off. I have not yet been part of those conversations because I haven’t seen the script yet. They don’t want to tell me how that works until I’ve read the pages."
How the production team plans to introduce futuristic effects in front of a live studio audience remains an intriguing mystery for now, but it seems that the new Jetsons will be a far cry from the original cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera.
The original Jetsons ran for just one season on ABC in prime time, from September 1962 to March 1963, ending after just 24 episodes. But those two dozen segments ran for decades as part of Saturday morning cartoon lineups. More new episodes were produced from 1985 through 1987, followed by two TV movies, the theatrical Jetsons: The Movie in 1990 and a direct-to-video animated movie, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania! just last year (plans for both a live-action theatrical film and a big-screen animated feature fell by the wayside in the meantime).
Meanwhile, Dungey also confirmed reports from 2017 that ABC is developing a reboot of The Greatest American Hero starring an Indian-American woman. While ABC has had mixed success with its Marvel superhero shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Inhumans, Dungey said the network was open to doing more in the genre:
"The question really is more what kind of superhero show, what’s the tone, how are we doing it? I would never say we’re closing the door on superheroes.”
It will be some time before we see if The Jetsons and The Greatest American Hero make it to the air -- at which point the impending Disney/Fox merger could be fully underway and making all this moot again.