There’s an interesting trend taking over the world of television. One that is thankfully giving the medium some long lost credibility......and less reality shows.
Billed as the perfect entertainment marriage, many films are finding new life on the small screen. It makes sense from a studio perspective. Television is a hard nut to crack. The need to fill 24 hours of air time isn’t an easy task. Many networks have resorted to “play it safe” singing and dancing shows that have saturated the market. Many of these shows, such as The Bachelor and Survivor, are tired concepts being dragged through umpteenth seasons of redundancy. It’s the television equivalent of Weekend At Bernie’s. Meanwhile, originality is knocking on the door, ready to make a comeback.
Creating a series based on a film just makes sense. Adapting a series will attract an already existing fan base, and take little advertising to generate a buzz. Most importantly, It's a proven concept. A network doesn't have to play the “throw it at the screen and see what sticks” game with its viewers. While many fans are quick to point out the shortcomings of a sequel that fails to live up to it’s original film, with television, a bad episode can quickly be amended a week later. With modern television production quickly catching up to the big screen, multiple seasons allow for deeper character development and story lines.
Think of the layers and transformations of characters like Walter White and Dexter. It's something that just can't be done in a two hour film. Also, some characters are so good, creating an expanded storyline for fans is just a no brainer. Shows like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Dead Zone both helped to continue the original films with exciting new plots and adventures. Perhaps the best example is M*A*S*H. The highly rated television adaptation of the 1970 film ran for an impressive 11 seasons, and it’s series finale became an event, scoring 125 million viewers in 1983 - serious numbers for the pre-DVR era!
Check out these shows that originated on the big screen...
Minority Report - Fox- (In production) Set 10 years after the events of the Spielberg film, this series will focus on a precog (phychic crime predictor) who comes out of retirement and uses his gifts to help law enforcement solve difficult crimes. Fans of the film should be cautious, Fox is known for prematurely pulling the plug on many of it’s previous sci-fi offerings. Shows like Firefly, Almost Human, and Terra Nova were all victims of “one and done” seasons.
Hannibal - NBC - This series prequel to the Academy Award winning Silence of the Lambs is so good, it’s makes the terrible big screen prequels (Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising) look all the more horrific. With an amazing cast, captivating storyline, and gore that trumps all 5 Hannibal Lecter films, NBC has risen the network television bar. Hannibal season 3 premieres June 4th.
From Dusk til Dawn - Netflix Original. - This supernatural crimes series follows the film's Gecko Brothers as they struggle to make their way to the Mexican border. The story is an expanded version of the film, with appearances by the FBI, Texas Rangers, and Vampires.
Fargo - F/X - Loosely based on the Academy Award winning Coen Brothers film, season one scored an impressive 18 Emmy nominations, and a Best Actor win for Billy Bob Thornton. Season two (currently in production) will take place 20 years earlier and will star Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, and Kristen Dunst. Much like season one, it will be a stand alone story in the franchise. Fargo season two is expected to premier later this year.
Uncle Buck - ABC - (in production) Uncle Buck was first adapted for television in 1990. The series only lasted 1 season gaining little fanfare. ABC is hoping to strike a hit the second time around with an African American cast. Comedian Mike Epps has been cast in the role of Buck.
Scream - MTV - (In production) When a disturbing Youtube video goes viral, a group of teenagers find themselves playing the infamous "game" with a mysterious serial killer. There has been no word if the series will be directly related to the horror franchise. The 10 episode series is set to premier in October, just in time for Halloween.
Rush Hour - CBS - (in production) The east meets west buddy cop trilogy is getting the small screen treatment. This action comedy series will star martial artist/ actor/ stuntman Jon Foo as Detective Lee, memorably played by Jackie Chan on the big screen
Bates Motel - A&E- What sounded like a sacrilegious disaster actually turned out to be an entertaining adaptation of Hitchcock’s iconic film Psycho. The series, set in modern time, focuses on a teenage Norman Bates as he helps his mother renovate a motel after the death of his father.
12 Monkeys - Syfy - Following the plot of the 1995 film, a team of time travelers are sent to the present in hopes of preventing the release of a virus that wipes out 93.6% of the world's population.
The Odd Couple (2015) - CBS - This is third television series based off the successful 1968 Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon film. The comedy follows the misadventures of 2 roommates who are complete opposites. Hilarity ensues.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp - Netflix - The entire cast (yes, entire!) returns for an 8 episode prequel to the 2001 cult film. The David Wain directed film helped launch the careers of many of Camp Firewood’s finest. Pulling the large cast together 14 years later was no easy feat, but many actors went above an beyond to reprise their roles. The series is set to premier on July 17th.
The Expendables - Fox- (pre-production) Using the same formula as the popular film franchise, this Sylvester Stallone produced series will unite many iconic television action stars. While no cast announcements have been made, fans are buzzing about the possibilities of seeing David Hasselhoff and Chuck Norris joining forces to rid the world of evil doers. With Chuck's lightning fast roundhouse kick, and Hasselhoff’s perfect smile, television will never be the same.