BET to revive "The Game"?

Could canceled CW comedy The Game make a return?

According to TV Guide, CBS Television Studios (formerly CBS Paramount Television) and Black Entertainment Television (BET) are negotiating a lower license fee so CBS can produce the series for cable.

If negotiations are successful, The Game would become the first former live-action network sitcom to be revived on basic cable since The Disney Channel produced a sequel to the classic sitcom Leave It To Beaver titled Still The Beaver in 1985 (the show moved to TBS in 1986 and was retitled The New Leave It To Beaver.)

During the mid-1980’s, a few canceled network sitcoms went on to be revived for first-run syndication, including Too Close For Comfort, Charles In Charge, and Mama’s Family. And during the same time period, many original sitcoms popped up on cable, including Check It Out!, Brothers, and Down to Earth. But the quality of those cable shows were sub-par at best.

One thing working in The Game’s favor is today’s cable shows are better produced than they were in the 1980’s and the 1990’s with programs like Sex in the City, Entourage, and Hannah Montana leading the way. However, not working in its advantage is a reduced budget than the program is accustomed to, which could show up on-screen.

This was the result when Airwolf – which ran on CBS from 1984-86- moved to the USA Network in 1987 after two and a half seasons, becoming the first canceled network drama to move to basic cable with new episodes. However, the budget was cut and the cast was replaced. Viewers didn’t like what they saw and fled for the exits.

The idea for The Game to move the cable actually came from the cast, which includes Tia Mowry Hardrict and Wendy Raquel Robinson. 64 episodes currently exist. A new season would make the series more strippable for a possible syndication run. BET currently holds the rights to the existing episodes and airs them on their weekday schedule.

The Game was spun-off from Girlfriends, a sitcom which ran on UPN for six seasons and CW for two. Both shows were created by Mara Brock Akil.

Last month, Comedy Central and Twentieth Television agreed to produce new Futurama episodes beginning in 2010 – seven years after Fox canceled the series, becoming the first animated sitcom ever to be revived for basic cable after its network run ended.

Thought: If The Game returns and the budget is cut, let’s hope the following doesn’t happen:

– Having the cast change clothes behind bushes outside instead of an actual dressing room.

– Boom mikes making “cameo” appearances.

– Sets made of lots and lots of Styrofoam.

– Making the move to shoot the show on crappy videotape.

– Moving production of the series from Los Angeles to Toronto or Vancouver – or worse, Winnipeg.

This was typical of the early “syndie quickie” first-run scripted syndicated series of the early 1970’s (Dr. Simon Locke, The Starlost – shows practically created by PTAR) and early first-run cable sitcoms. With the economy the way it is, are studios this droll to try production techniques like this again?

Well, the syndicated Deal or No Deal is moving to Connecticut…