Anyone addicted to prime-time TV series lost count long ago of how many remakes of the classics they've seen on Channels 3 and 7, the two highest-rating stations.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that no one these days seems capable of writing a novel of the quality of the old ones, and a great tale is essential for the success of a series.
ASTV Manager’s Super Banteong section recently summed up the situation, noting that the spooky saga (never a book but a legend) of the female ghost Mae Nak Prakanong has been remade for TV more than any other – at least 10 times – since 1979. Every free TV channel has had a go with it and radio has had another 10 versions. It’s graced the theatrical stage four times and the silver screen no less than 25 times, most recently in the blockbuster comedy “Pee Mak” last year and this year’s “Mor 6/5 Pak Ma Tha Mae Nak”.
The runners-up in the remake sweepstakes are “Kom Payabat”, based on the novel by Suk Haruethai, “Nam Phueng Kom” from Krisna Asokesin and “Koo Kham” from Tommayantee. Each of these books has been adapted for TV six times, and the version of “Koo Kham” starring Thongchai “Bird” McIntyre and Kamolchanok Komolthiti remains the highest-rated series in Thai TV history.
Kor Surankanang’s “Ban Sai Thong” has been recycled on TV five times, first in 1958 on the old Channel 4 (yes, in black and white) and most recently in 2000 on Channel 3. Pacing it are Krisna Asokesin’s “Mia Luang” and “Sawan Biang”, See Fah’s “E-sa”, Cha-um Panchapan’s “Taddao Bussaya”, Chuwong Chaijinda’s “Jamloey Rak” and, on the tube again right now, “Susan Konpen”.
“Si Pandin” (“Four Reigns”) by MR Krukrit Pramoj, Vor Vinitchaikul’s “Sang-soon” and “Panyachon Konkrua”, Jullada Pakdeepoomin’s “Kamin Kab Poon” and “Nam Soh Sai” have been digested and re-digested four times.
It gets a little tedious at times, but rest assured that no one’s complaining. All of these remakes were hits in their day, successfully swapping audiences from one generation to the next. So it’s highly unlikely that any TV producer will be shy about having another chew through the classics. In fact, now that the digital channels are unfolding, more remakes are on the way.
Channel 7 will revisit “Ban Sai Thong”, “Mia Luang”, “Ngao” and “Sai Lohit” and Channel 3 plans to rebroadcast its own of “Bang Rajan”. Newcomer Channel 8 from RS is remaking “Wane Thong Lueng”, and keep an eye on its rivals for more such familiar titles, including “Dok Kaew”, “Mongkut Doksom”, “Tawipob”, “Namtan Mai”, “La-ong Dao” and “Thong Nau Kow”.
The discussion online takes note of the fact that viewers don’t weary of the old stuff because the series are remade specifically to appeal to a new audience living in altered circumstances. The period dramas abide by their venerable settings but still reflect modern sensibilities. The other big factor in continuing success, of course, if the star power. The most popular actors of today are called upon to try their hand at beloved characters of old. We’ll be able to keep these stories going in primetime for decades to come.