CLINE: Familiarity can bring a fortune

We live in a nostalgic world. We may think things will be good in the future, but we know they were great in the past. So we celebrate that by going to reunion concerts, watching TV shows in syndication and wearing throwback uniforms that remind us of the good old days.

The past is good business. You can buy a new CD and hope you like all the songs, or you can purchase a greatest hits collection and know you will. Same goes for concerts. With the money it costs to see a show these days, it's nice to know you can waste away in "Margaritaville" and know the songs by heart at a Jimmy Buffett concert vs. hearing the one or two "hits" offered by an up-and-coming band.

It's no surprise that TV works the same way. While the networks struggle with programming — How did the "Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. work out, NBC? — the shows in syndication have a built-in fan base that offers a familiarity that makes them the equivalent of comfort food.

I was reminded of how great the old shows are on Sunday night when TV Land aired its annual awards show. Yes, TV Land has its own awards show. And it celebrates the classics. Hard not to have a smile on your face when watching old clips from "The Love Boat" and "Bosom Buddies."

There's a reason for the smiles. Shows like those remind you of a simpler time, when there was no satellite TV, prime time meant something and Tom Hanks dressed like a woman to get cheaper rent.

Hanks went on to be a movie star, joining an industry that really knows how to cash in on nostalgia. If you liked "The A-Team" — and really, who doesn't like a show featuring Mr. T? — you'll probably be interested in the movie by the same name that comes out this summer.

Makes you wonder if Hollywood would exist if there weren't television shows to remake. Everything from "Bewitched" to "The Brady Bunch" finds its way to the silver screen. And word is agent Jack Bauer and the "24" will follow suit.

And you know what? If "24" is made into a movie, it will make a lot of money because the people who loved the Bauer character on the small screen don't have to worry about liking him on the big one. No matter if the reviews are good, bad or indifferent, people will put down their money to go see it, knowing at the very least they'll get something familiar.

Familiarity breeds contempt, the old saying goes. But as people in the entertainment business will tell you, these days the reality is it builds a fortune.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.