Hugely popular NCIS star Wilmer Valderrama has blasted the lack of creativity in Hollywood as reboot culture takes an increasing hold on broadcast TV – but admits to some joy at the idea of one day revisiting the property that made him globally famous, That 70s Show.
In Australia on a promotional tour, Wilmer told Gavin Scott on WHO’s popular TV podcast, Binge List, that the growing trend towards rejigging old shows was robbing Hollywood of its creativity – and a new generation of classic shows.
‘There are two sides to this,’ he admitted in the frank and wide-ranging chat that even touched on where his character, Fez, ended up in the 90s.
‘It’s beautiful to see these actors come together again and relive things, and wake up the nostalgia in fans - especially as those shows were pioneering TV series at the time and most importantly were pop culture phenomena.
‘It’s beautiful to teach the new school what a great TV show was. Because right now what they create today is disposable content, it doesn’t go past three seasons, it doesn’t go past four seasons.
‘Those [revived] shows went past 6,7,8, 10 years each back then. That’s 70s Show went on eight years. Most comedy shows don’t do that.’
While Wilmer admits to enjoying having his ‘nostalgia thirst’ quenched by the return of some of his own personal favourites, he sees the current trends in television as being destructive to the art form, as networks desperately grasp at the past to get shows noticed in what he calls ‘a sea of content’.
‘On the other side of the coin, I feel like it’s lazy,’ he says. 'It’s lazy for networks to not create new content, it’s lazy for studios to continue to acquire titles and reboot them with a new direction, a new tone, a new face, a new cast, or whatever it is.
‘To me, there’s very little originality, and there’s very few original ideas that are given a shot. All these reboots are the safe bet for most of these big networks, because they don’t want to invest in something that hasn’t really been done.
‘I think cable and I think streaming are gambling on more original ideas, and I love that because that’s where most real performers and actors and producers and directors are actually ending up at.’
Wilmer says that he’s less appreciative of reboots that don’t include the original cast members – although he singles out Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver, and Magnum PI as exceptions, saying he does enjoy watching them.
Amid reboot mania, That 70s Show is approaching its twentieth anniversary, leading to fevered speculation of a reunion.
‘We’ve been asked that a lot,’ he tells Binge List. ‘But I think the show is so present, due to Netflix and syndication, and still so vivid that it almost feels too soon to do a reunion.
‘I think most of the shows doing reunions are a little hard to find in syndication. The nostalgia creates a certain demand for their creation.
‘And all of us are still so everywhere, I think that everyone is a little too busy. But we love our show and we love our characters, so it would be beautiful to play them again.’
So what would Fez be doing in any update – which would have to be set in the 90s?
‘I don’t know… I bet he’d be a hairdresser somewhere. He’d definitely be a Paul Mitchell. He would have his own shampoo, that’s for sure.’