The 10 best and 10 worst TV reboots, revivals, and spin-offs of 2019, ranked by critics

insider@insider.com (Linda Ge)
hbo watchmen

HBO

  • 2019 saw numerous remakes and reboots of popular shows make it to the small screen.
  • From comic book adaptations like HBO's "Watchmen" to remakes of beloved sitcoms like Spectrum's "Mad About You," there were plenty of remakes available to watch. 
  • But not all of these remakes were hits with critics. 
  • However, a few, like HBO's "Watchmen" and "A Discovery of Witches" from Sundance, turned out to be hits.
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Nearly a full year of television has been released in 2019 and of course, many are based on existing books, movies, or past shows..

Reboots, revivals, remakes, sequels and spin-offs were everywhere, and some fared better with critics than others.

Sundance's "A Discovery of Witches" was universally beloved, as was HBO's "Watchmen," but Spectrum had a one-two fail punch with "Mad About You" and "LA's Finest."

See below for the 10 best and 10 worst TV shows of the year based on existing books, films, and TV shows, as ranked by critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

"A Discovery of Witches" wasn't widely seen by a large audience, but it charmed every critic who reviewed it.

a discovery of witches

Sky Vision

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

Based on the "All Souls" book trilogy by Deborah Harkness and named after the first novel in the series, the witch-vampire supernatural romance charmed critics, garnering positive reactions from all 27 critics who wrote reviews.

"Given its many charms, it just may be the next show to cast its spell over viewers," said Andrea Reiher in Collider.

"Watchmen" has become a bona fide pop cultural phenomenon that fans and critics are equally impressed with.

watchmen

Mark Hill/HBO

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

Damon Lindelof's gripping new take on the iconic comic book series is universally beloved by fans and critics alike, with only two rotten reviews out of a total 88 who reviewed HBO's newest hit.

Willa Paskin of Slate calls it "an energetic, unruly show with a very concise and ambitious objective."

"Young Justice: Outsiders" was revived by DC Universe after being axed by Cartoon Network six years ago and critics are pleased with the decision.

young justice

Young Justice DC/Facebook

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Cult hit "Young Justice" fans rejoiced when DC Universe brought back the canceled Cartoon Network series and critics agreed: Out of 21 critics who reviewed the revival, only one had a negative reaction.

"'Young Justice' season three brought most of the series' subplots to a satisfying resolution, while simultaneously setting the stage for season four," said Phillip Martinez in Newsweek.

Critics loved "Doom Patrol" for fully embracing the weirdness of its comic book roots.

doom patrol

DC

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Forty-three critics weighed in on DC Universe's adaptation of Grant Morrison's comic book series and only two found fault with it.

Alex McLevy of The AV Club called the show "absurdly watchable. Bananas, yes, but enjoyably bananas."

Critics love the "What We Do in the Shadows" TV show just as much as they loved the original movie.

what we do in the shadows fx

FX

Rotten Tomatoes critic score94%

Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who made the original "What We Do in the Shadows" film together, returned for the TV series adaptation, so it's probably no wonder critics are just as smitten with the horror comedy in its new incarnation.

"The four leads are great, the jokes crisp and fast and funny, and the visual effects are employed just as effectively as in the movie, folded seamlessly into the handheld-camera aesthetic so they seem all the more uncanny," said Glen Weldon on NPR.

The second time "Carmen Sandiego" got the animated series treatment, it was a hit with critics.

carmen sandiego

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

Gina Rodriguez voices the titular "Carmen Sandiego" on Netflix's new animated adaptation of the video games originally created to teach children geography, following in the footsteps of Rita Moreno. 

Shamus Kelley of Den of Geek predicts fans of the "Carmen Sandiego" franchise will love this newest iteration, saying: "Many of the major iterations of the franchise are represented in the series. Some are bigger elements of the show while others are loving Easter eggs."

"Harley Quinn" leads her own animated series for the first time and most critics are on board.

harley quinn tv show

DC Universe

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

DC comic book character Harley Quinn has been adapted for the screen dozens of times, but DC Universe gives her her own titular animated series for the first time, much to the delight of critics.

"Add pitch-perfect comedic timing, a solid cast of comedy's hardest hitters, and inimitable chemistry presented in the form of one of the most satisfying female friendships in a long while, and you have one of the best shows of the year, easily," said Shannon Miller in The AV Club.

"Veronica Mars" is still on the case thanks to a Hulu revival, and critics couldn't be happier to have the former teen sleuth back.

veronica mars season four

Hulu

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 89%

Kristen Bell is "Veronica Mars" once again, who returns to the hometown that won her a cult following to solve one more mystery, thanks to Hulu reviving the UPN drama series.

"Veronica's return is a welcome one, a rarity in an environment where revivals are plentiful but not always warranted or desired," said Melanie McFarand for Salon.

An A-list cast led by George Clooney makes Hulu's "Catch 22" a worthy watch, critics said.

catch 22

Philipe Antonello/Hulu

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

Most critics were won over by Hulu's sleek and grand adaptation of Joseph Heller's iconic novel, with Stuart Heritage of The Guardian calling it "beautifully shot, thoughtfully written and incredibly well acted."

Only 14 out of a total of 89 critics who reviewed the miniseries disagreed.

Most critics were won over by "The Boys"' irreverent, subversive take on superheroes in pop culture.

the boys

Amazon

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83%

In a world overrun by superheroes who save the day, Amazon brought something different to the table with "The Boys," which turns its masked heroes into villains. Of the 88 critics who reviewed the series - which has already been renewed for a second season - 73 loved it and only 15 did not.

Matthew Dessem of Slate said the show was "an expert deconstruction of superhero stories, with an appropriately wintery view of institutional power, be it corporate, governmental, religious, or caped."

The palace intrigue in "The Name of the Rose" wasn't enough to sway critics.

the name of the rose tv series

Sundance

Rotten Tomatoes critic score62%

Critics were mixed on Sundance TV's adaptation of Italian novel "The Name of the Rose," a murder mystery set in a 14th Century monastery.

Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said the show is "all over the map qualitatively. Soon, like riddles and metaphors colliding somewhere in a labyrinth, it implodes upon itself."

Critics found the CW's "Roswell, New Mexico" too similar to the original teen alien drama series to be a worthwhile revisit.

roswell new mexico the cw reboot

Ursula Coyote/The CW

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 55%

Liz Parker becomes Liz Ortecho (reverting to her name in the original novels) in the CW reboot, which puts a immigration twist on the teen alien romance, but a modern sensibility wasn't enough to win critics over.

"'Roswell, New Mexico' has a few surprising twists on the formula, yet never completely finds a worthwhile voice of its own," said Dan Fienberg in The Hollywood Reporter. "It's not bad. It's flimsy and resistant to its own strengths."

Korean singing competition phenomenon "The Masked Singer" made its way Stateside to middling results.

the masked singer

Michael Becker / FOX

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 52%

The Korean version of "The Masked Singer" is such a big deal in its country of origin that Ryan Reynolds made a guest appearance, but US critics weren't quite as wowed by the American remake.

"While the central conceit is unique and the performances are fun, each episode is weighed down with endless padding," said Stuart Heritage in The Guardian.

The CW's "Nancy Drew" has an engaging cast, but not enough of an engaging mystery, according to critics.

Nancy Drew

The CW

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 52%

The critics were meh on The CW's attempt to revive the iconic teen detective "Nancy Drew," mostly finding issue with the case work itself.

"What makes Nancy Drew's appeal span generations... aren't her relationships. It's the mysteries themselves," said Melanie McFarland in Salon. "The first two episodes do not yet prove that this new drama has captured that very crucial aspect of the Nancy Drew legacy quite yet."

USA's "Treadstone" has the action of the Jason "Bourne" franchise but critics found the humanity lacking.

treadstone

USA Network

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 47%

The Matt Damon-led "Bourne" franchise was often lauded for being intelligent on top of action-packed, and the TV spin-off "Treadstone" seems to be lacking a bit on the latter end for critics to fully embrace it.

"A show whose ambition to try to capture a world's worth of adventure seems, too often, like taking the easy way out from digging too deeply into story or character," said Daniel D'Addario in Variety.

"The Hills: New Beginnings" follows the formerly young and carefree cast as they grow up, which is just not as fun to watch, according to critics.

the hills new beginnings mtv

MTV

 Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 45%

"The Hills" followed the fabulous lives of young, beautiful, hard-partying Angelenos, but with the majority of the cast returning now in their 30s, critics found "New Beginnings" just isn't that fun anymore.

"Nine years after it first ended, the revamped reality show should probably be called 'The Hills: Actual Adulthood,' but that sounds about as dull as the series itself," said Willa Paskin in Slate.

British dating show hit "Love Island" failed to make much of a splash with critics in the US.

Love Island

ITV Studios

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 45%

Producers hoping for a "Bachelor"-sized hit didn't get their wish by importing British dating show "Love Island" to CBS. 

"Some of the other elements that make the British Love Island work so well don't quite translate on this side of the Atlantic," said Eric Thurm in AV Club.

Hulu's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" couldn't live up to the beloved movie it's based on in most critics' eyes.

four weddings and a funeral hulu

Hulu

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 44%

With an engaging ensemble cast and Mindy Kaling leading the writers, Hulu's "Four Weddings and Funeral" seemed like a no-brainer, but most critics thought the new take on the Hugh Grant rom-com classic fell flat.

"It plays like a cynical grab for attention, based on the not-entirely-faulty assumption that any form of name recognition is an advantage when it comes to making noise in a crowded streaming universe," said Brian Lowry in CNN.

The "Mad About You" revival had critics wondering what the point was.

mad about you spectrum

Spectrum

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 39%

"Mad About You" is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, but there didn't seem much interest in a revival. When one came anyway, critics were vindicated in their original shrug-off.

"This may go down as one of the most forgettable "returns" of the year," said Robert Rorke in the New York Post.

"Bad Boys" spin-off "LA's Finest" doesn't have anything new to offer the already crowded TV landscape, according to critics.

la's finest

Spectrum

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 7%

Spectrum has the bad luck of premiering the two worst-reviewed reboots/revivals of 2019, with this "Bad Boys" spin-off suffering the worst.

"Everyone can find another show exactly like this one on Fox or other broadcast networks, USA or other cable outlets, and even streaming services," said Ben Travers in Indiewire.

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