The Watchers

The Watchers

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mini-Countdowns: Film-to-TV Adaptations

Back in June, I did a post about films that are based on TV shows. I thought I would do a companion piece to this, by talking about TV shows that are based on films.

Recently, the TV version of Fargo (starring Billy Bob Thornton, Alison Tolman and Martin Freeman) has garenered critical acclaim and two Primetime Emmys. The 1996 Coen Brothers original movie is held in high esteem as a cult movie. 

Researching this piece threw up some interesting- and unusual- little tidbits. For example, did you know that there was a TV version of Blade made in 2006 (with rapper Sticky Fingaz in the lead role- it lasted 12 episodes)? Or that RoboCop has had not one, but two, televisual outings- a 1994 series, which ran for 23 episodes, and the four-part 2000 miniseries Prime Directives? There have also been two different TV shows based on Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita- one that ran from 1997-2001, starring Peta Wilson, and the 2010 version with Maggie Q.

So below are five TV shows based on films.

1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer


Joss Whedon was never very happy with how the 1992 film version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer came out. Luckily for us all, he got the chance to show his vision when the TV show hit the screens in 1997. Lasting seven seasons, we saw Buffy kick some serious undead ass, fall in love, sacrifice herself to save the world... then come back and do it all again. The show's quality does veer from absolutely excellent (The Body, Once More With Feeling) to utterly dire (Bad Eggs, Reptile Boy) but it's always watchable.

2. Stargate


Now this is how you do a television spin-off! The 1994 film with Kurt Russell and James Spader (as Dr. Daniel Jackson) has spawned no less than three full TV shows- Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007), Stargate Atlantis (2004-2009) and SGU: Stargate Universe (2009)- and several one-off stories (The Ark Of Truth, Continuum), as well as an animated version (Stargate: Infinity). Not bad for one- admittedly quite brilliant- film.

3. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

This TV show- which sadly only ran for two seasons from 2008-2009- was set directly after Terminator 2: Judgment Day and showed Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) and her son John (Thomas Dekker) staying under the radar whilst trying to plot the destruction of Skynet. A decent series, Headey is kickass as always... plus it essentially retcons Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. Can't be bad! 

4. Friday Night Lights

Peter Berg directed the 2004 movie version which starred Billy Bob Thornton as the coach of the Permian High Panthers, a high school football team in Odessa, Texas. The TV version was commissioned in 2006 and ran til 2011 with Kyle Chandler in the lead role as coach Eric Taylor and Connie Britton playing his wife - Britton appeared in the film version, also playing the coach's wife.

5. M*A*S*H*

Robert Altman's 1970 war comedy- starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould and Robert Duvall- saw the staff of a Korean war field hospital use humour to keep themselves together whilst facing the horrors of war. In 1972, a television version was commissioned which ran for 11 seasons and over 250 episodes, with the final episode 'Goodbye, Farewell and Amen' becoming the most-watched TV series finale ever with over 105 million viewers. This is a record that still stands today.

And just one little added extra...

6. Carry On Laughing

The Carry On films are a staple of British cinema, from the gentle comedy of Carry On Sergeant in 1958 to the barely single-entendre shenanigans of Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978. In 1975, it was time for the small screen version. Pastiching such varied subjects as Lord Peter Wimsey, the Knights of The Round Table, and Upstairs Downstairs, it ran for thirteen episodes across two series. Some of the big Carry On names- such as Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey- did not appear at all, while others- Sid James and Hattie Jacques- only made very fleeting appearances. It's patchy as all hell, camp as you like, but- like Carry On itself- endearing and surprisingly funny in places.

There are dozens of examples of TV shows based on films, these are just a small selection of them. Are there any particularly good- or bad- examples? Let us know in the comments below.


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