Reboots can be tempting, but certainly never easy, especially when they’re a remake of a much-loved classic.
When Wooden Horse producers Richard Finlayson, formerly ABC’s director of television, and producer Jude Troy brought their latest project to ABC comedy head Todd Abbott, it wasn’t going to be an easy match.
“When we first brought it to Todd, we said, ‘We’ve got something to pitch you’ after he came in,” recalls Finlayson.
“He graciously accepted the meeting. Tried to hire him a couple of times when I was at ABC. So maybe he thought he owed me something or something. So I said, ‘We have this thing to tell you about and it’s a re-imagining of a classic Australian comedy.’ And he put his head in his hands and said, ‘Don’t say it is Mother son.’
“I think as the new Head of Comedy, having to deal with a big Australian brand like that wasn’t something he necessarily thought about in his first couple of months.
“But as soon as he saw the idea and the way we’re thinking about it, he couldn’t say no. They loved the scripts every minute of the way, so that was cool.
The eighth episode Mother son 2023 reimagined by Matt Okine and starring Denise Scott will screen on ABC in August with original creator Geoffrey Atherden as a consultant.
Troy says of the series: “The fun is palpable. Denise and Matt bouncing off the screen and then adding Robbie (Angela Nica Sullen) into the mix, you totally believe this family. There have been moments, honestly, where he really packs a punch. You’re laughing, and then there’s some burning issues that we touch on as the series evolves, and it’s equally heartbreaking. But then you laugh again. So it’s never melancholy or brooding or overly sentimental, but there are moments where you think ‘Crikey, this is really real.’
Finlayson adds, “At the end of the day, Maggie is in the early stages of dementia… Not that we delve into the subject of dementia, but we surface the issue more than the original series. Those things were important to us.”
Mother and Son, will premiere Wednesday, August 23 at 8:30 pm on ABC.