TV

Creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick Working on “Thirtysomething” Sequel

Several cast members set to return for the new show

"thirtysomething" cast
The "thirtysomething" cast at the 1988 Emmy Awards.
Alan Light/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / January 14, 2020 6:45 am

Creating followups to beloved television shows is a tricky business. For every Twin Peaks: The Return, which sparks an array of acclaim and discussion, there’s been a Mad About You revival, where the reaction has been significantly more meh. This week brings with it the news that thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick are working on a sequel to that acclaimed television series, which aired from 1987 to 1991.

Town & Country reports that the new series will focus on the children of the original series’s characters, with a number of cast members slated to reprise their roles in the new series, including  Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig and Timothy Busfield. No premiere date has been announced as of yet. Town & Country expects it to debut during the 2020-21 season. 

In a 2009 review of the series’s first season, Emily VanDerWerff concisely summarized thirtysomething’s appeal — and how the years since it aired have left it something of an underrated and influential work.

These days, watching thirtysomething means seeing a program that somehow pioneered a huge number of things we accept as vital to our current sense of good TV drama. But it’s also a program that’s mostly been forgotten, perhaps because it never got the universal critical praise the similarly influential Hill Street Blues did, simply because the conflicts are so small.

Zwick and Herskovitz also worked on several other acclaimed ensemble television shows including, most notably, My So-Called Life. But both men have also worked extensively in film — and the contrast between their film work and their television work bears noting. 

Zwick’s credits as a director include ambitious period pieces like Legends of the Fall, Glory and The Last Samurai. That said, his directorial debut hewed more closely to thirtysomething’s themes and settings: in 1986, he adapted David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago as About Last Night

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes in 2009, Zwick discussed the seeming gulf between his film work and his television work. 

That TV stuff has given me an opportunity to give voice to a much more nuanced appreciation of human behavior and a kind of more comedic view, and these movies are 70 ft. across and 30 ft. high, and somehow the stories feel better when they can fill the screen.

Like his frequent collaborator, Herskovitz has also made work for screens both small and large. Both men worked on the screenplay for the 2017 thriller American Assassin, and they both have story credits on The Great Wall. Does this mean the thirtysomething revival will feature car chases or a large-scale battle scene? Probably not, but weirder things have happened when tv shows make a comeback.

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