Same Show, Same Network, Different Decade

Tonight at 10:00PM ET, ABC will premiere a new drama called Cupid starring Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson. Cannavale’s character, Trevor Pierce, is actually Cupid, the one and only god of love. Paulson plays Dr. Claire McCrae, his psychiatrist. Trevor/Cupid has to help 100 troubled couples find love before he can go back to Mt. Olympus and hang with the other gods. It’s an interesting premise, to be sure, but it isn’t an entirely new one.

On September 26th, 1998 ABC premiered a new drama called Cupid, starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall as Trevor Hale and Dr. Claire Allen, respectively. The 1998 version of Cupid was created by Rob Thomas (the man responsible for Veronica Mars) and he is behind the 2009 version as well. CBS aired a reality show called Cupid during the summer of 2003 but that show wasn’t related to the other two.

Given the effort involved in getting a television show on the air — dozens of pilots are filmed each year that don’t make it on the air and hundreds of concepts that never make it to the pilot stage — it’s almost unheard of for a creator/scriptwriter to be given a second chance. It’s so rare, in fact, that off the top of my head I can only think of one other example: David Frankel’s Grapevine. It aired for six episodes on CBS in the summer of 1992 and returned in February of 2000 for another six episodes, also on CBS. Like Cupid, the concept was the same and the characters had similar/identical names.

There have been many shows that were later remade — The Bionic Woman, Family Affair, The Fugitive, The Odd Couple — and some that had follow-ups attempted — WKRP in Cincinnati/The New WKRP, Kung Fu/Kung Fu: The Legend Continues — but the list of programs that were actually given a second chance is very slim indeed. But Cupid isn’t the only current example: NBC is working on a new version of Parenthood. In 1990, the network aired a dozen episodes of Parenthood starring Ed Begley, Jr. Both are based on Ron Howard’s 1989 movie of the same name.

There were also two versions of Meet Corliss Archer in the early 1950s. The first, broadcast on CBS from 1951 to 1952, starred Lugene Sanders as the titular character. The second, syndicated from 1954 to 1955, starred Ann Baker. True, the second version wasn’t shown on CBS so the same network wasn’t involved, but otherwise it probably counts. There are, undoubtedly, other instances where a television show was given a second shot at making it big on the small screen, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

1 Comment

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    …and this version of “CUPID” vanished just as fast as the original one did. That didn’t mean the show was “bad”; ABC is in the same kind of ratings and scheduling turmoil they went through ten years ago…only this time, it’s WORSE. They (and most other broadcast networks) just don’t have the time to nurture most new series these days- “slap it on, see if it sticks to the wall, oops, well, I guess it didn’t work, throw it out and start again”. Finally, the ONLY reason ABC revived “CUPID” is because they co-own the series; if it succeded, they could have reaped a fortune from cable repeats and DVD box sets….that won’t ever likely happen.

    As for “MEET CORLISS ARCHER”, CBS produced the first “live” version starring Lugene Sanders in 1951-’52 {they also controlled the long-running concurrent radio series starring Janet Waldo, which finally ended in 1956}. Ziv Television, the fabled syndicated production company who brought you “THE CISCO KID”, “BOSTON BLACKIE”, “I LED 3 LIVES”, “HIGHWAY PATROL”, “SEA HUNT” and other highly successful “local” series during the 1950’s, “leased” the rights to “CORLISS” and produced 39 filmed episodes in the 1954-’55 season. It wasn’t successful enough, however, to warrant a second season {well, neither was their “EDDIE CANTOR COMEDY THEATER” that season}.

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