TV Critic’s Corner

Don’t expect an ‘ER’ or ‘West Wing’ revival

Producer John Wells says he has no plans to revisit ”ER” (above) or “The West Wing.”
Producer John Wells says he has no plans to revisit ”ER” (above) or “The West Wing.”

This comes out of left field, given the trendiness of reboots and revivals, from the CW’s “Dynasty” to CBS’s upcoming “Murphy Brown.” Variety interviewed producer John Wells, and, refreshingly, he says he has no plans to reboot, revive, or re-anything “ER” or “The West Wing” in the near future, despite rumors.

The entire “ER” catalog, from 1994-2009, became available on Hulu earlier this year, and has been extremely popular. Despite all the renewed interest, Wells insists he won’t succumb.

“I have no interest in doing it again,” he said of the landmark hospital drama. “We did that show and we did it very well. I was very proud of it. We had so many wonderful people come through the show over the years. But now other talented people have picked up the medical show banner and carried it bravely forward. Shonda [Rhimes] came in and has done a fabulous job with ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ ‘House’ with [showrunner] David Shore was a great show.”


With “The West Wing,” Wells is also resisting revival, at least in the near future. He thinks the current political polarization in this country doesn’t lend itself to the show. “ ‘The West Wing’ is the one people pester us about constantly,” he said. “I have continued to say no, we’re not going to do it. I don’t want to do it even though it’s the one that I think there are actually ways to do it. But not given the political climate now.”

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“People forget that while [‘The West Wing’] seemed very liberal at the time, it was actually very evenhanded. We had as many Republican fans of that show as we had Democratic fans. The country is so polarized right now I think announcing that we were going to try to do any version would greatly tarnish what it was. Because I think it would be assumed to be a liberal screed rather than an opportunity to do what it was originally designed to be. We had our moments of standing on a soapbox, but for the most part it was about the sacrifices people made to be in government, and how difficult it was to get things done, how compromise was required. It was about service and the ideal of who we’re supposed to be as a country.

“This is a fraught time to try to enter into that conversation. I think it would be a very bad idea to try to go back in now.”

The only show he’s hankering to revisit is “Southland,” which ran from 2009 to 2013. “We’ve tried a couple of times. It’s going to be hard because everyone’s a star now.”

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.