Nostalgia can sometimes be bittersweet.
The Sandlot is a classic. From Squints’ horn-rimmed specs, to Ham’s defining “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”, the eponymous gang was a waggish, alternate family unit that tapped the wayward, “I don’t need no grownups” appeal my kid self relished in Stand By Me, The Goonies and (wait for it) Hook. To be honest, I still kind of do.
Now, we’re in something of an 80’s coming-of-age renaissance. On the one hand, you have the grin-inducingly Spielbergy Stranger Things. On the other, there’s the IT remakes, G.L.O.W and several 80’s-centric episodes of Black Mirror. And now, writer-director David Mickey Evans has recently revealed that Smalls, Ham and Benny “The Jet” will be getting their own TV revival series set in the 1980s, original cast members included.
The original Sandlot followed the antics of the boys of the titular ‘Sandlot’ in 1960s Los Angeles. An innocent, embracingly goofy story of friendship viewed through the boys’ enthusiasm for baseball, the comedy celebrated its 25th Anniversary last year, and my does it hold up.
At present, the concept of an adult Sandlot does feel somewhat at odds with the wild, youthful charm of the original. Indeed, not many fans seem to be on board with the idea, though that could be as much to do with the increasing number of bring-back films and series that have released in the past few years.
This is not killin’ me, Smalls. https://t.co/EZynlTtnYO
— 1023JackFM (@1023jackfm) March 5, 2019
Don’t care for ‘The Sandlot’ movie at all – don’t care for this revival that no one asked for. https://t.co/BX26gLyaTH
— Paul Carlson (@EscapeIntoFilm) March 2, 2019
Reunions haven’t historically been received well
With ‘retro revivals’ popping up here there and everywhere right now, it’s unsurprising that the reunion has been met with doubt in some circles. A prime example is Freaks and Geeks, which is considered by many to be one of the best teen series ever made, despite the original being cancelled after just one season. It launched the careers of Seth Rogan, James Franco and Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), with Dave Allen’s role as the quirky-but-cool Mr. Rosso being so admired that he’d become a favourite cameo appearance in many teen movies to come.
When the idea of a reunion series came up last year, though, Martin Starr (who’d made his debut in the show as the lovably gawky Bill Haverchuck) made his feelings clear to The Wrap.
“Definitely not. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” he said. “I’m going to break this to you the only way I know how. Definitely no way in hell.”
Both American Pie and Kubrick’s kaleidoscopic 2001: A Space Odyssey also saw patchy reunion type sequels, while Arrested Development had no glaring issues in itself, except for the creeping feeling that the dysfunctional Bluth antics felt nowhere near as fresh as they did back in 2003.
The trend across the reactions to these revivals seems tied to authenticity. As put by New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik, TV revivals become restricted in their nostalgic mission to recreate the feeling the original piece offered. In a cultural landscape dominated by sequels and reboots, that’s a difficult thing to pull off convincingly.
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) May 28, 2018
But as Poniewozik suggests of Arrested Development Season 4, maybe The Sandlot will end up going a different direction with its TV series; maybe something closer to Netflix’s Love as it charts the boys’ adult lives.
And its status as a revival doesn’t necessarily spell doom. the latest season of Twin Peaks brought back the cult 1990s series with appreciable success, and speaking more generally: the 1980’s as a decade continues to offer The Sandlot an attractive aesthetic upon which to build what could turn out to be a heartening, relatable tale of childhood friends as they navigate that weird hotchpotch of relationships, children and existential crises with which media tend to identify ‘adult life’.