HBO Max The Griswolds Series

One of the most-watched movies of any holiday season is undoubtedly National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. People just can’t get enough of seeing a dysfunctional family try to make it through the holidays, probably because it makes it a little easier to deal with their own family problems. And soon enough, they may be able to see The Griswolds more often, at least if they have HBO Max.

WarnerMedia’s new streaming service has announced a new half-hour comedy series called The Griswolds, based on the Vacation franchise that started with National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983. But will it bring back any of the Vacation franchise cast members for the series or not?

The Griswolds series hails from Warner Bros. Television, Christmas Vacation co-star Johnny Galecki, who would executive produce through his Alcide Baba Productions along with Holly Brown, and The Middle writer Tim Hobert, who is also scripting the series.

The brief and vague logline says the series “brings the iconic family home from vacation and explores their daily lives in the suburbs of modern-day Chicago.” If it wasn’t for the family’s history on the big screen, this sounds like any other family sitcom we’ve seen on network television over the years.

Since Warner Bros. is using pretty much every property at their disposal to bring content to HBO Max, it only makes sense that the Vacation franchise is being used to create a possible series. The only problem is that recent installments of the Vacation franchise left something to be desired. Vegas Vacation was mostly a misfire, and the Vacation sequel that followed Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold taking his own family to Walley World had its moments, but didn’t feel quite like a Vacation movie, even though it brought back Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as Clark and Ellen Griswold.

As for The Griswolds series, it’s not clear if anyone from the Vacation franchise is coming back. But if Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo aren’t involved, then what’s the point? How can the series be about “the iconic family” without the stars who originated those roles? I could see the show focusing on Johnny Galecki as Rusty Griswold, the role he played as a child in Christmas Vacation, with his own family. After all, the series made a gag out of always changing the actors who played Rusty and Audrey Griswold, so moving on from Ed Helms would just be par for the course. Then Clark and Ellen could at least appear every now and then as grandparents.

Personally, I think it’s rather hard to do anything tied to Vacation without Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo involved. And I don’t know that the Vacation formula lends itself to a half-hour series without being a cliche sitcom. But Warner Bros. is at least going to try. There’s a chance this doesn’t actually work out, just like the sitcom that Chase and D’Angelo tried to make years ago. But we’ll see what happens.

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