Weekend Roundtable: Which Kids’ TV Series Should Become the Next Blockbuster Movie?

Counting the original trilogy from the 1990s, we’re now up to the fifth live-action ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movie. A fifth ‘Transformers’ entry is also currently in production. Clearly, any kids’ TV property from the past is fair game to become a summer blockbuster these days. Which favorite show from your youth do you suggest should be next?

Mike Attebery

Most of my childhood favorites have already been remade, or have movie and TV revivals in the works even as I type this. Case in point: I used to love ‘MacGyver’. That show is coming back very soon (and judging from the previews, it’s going to be terrible). That got me thinking, what if they made a ‘MacGyver’-like action show, only with an older gentleman as the crime-fighting lead? That led me to this great idea:

Instead of an educational kids’ show about science and technology, let’s revive ‘Mister Wizard’s World‘ as an action-adventure film starring J.K. Simmons. He doesn’t believe in guns. He hates violence. He’s clever. He’s funny. He basically MacGyver, but he’s old. I’m telling you, this idea is a winner.

Brian Hoss

As much as something like ‘M.A.S.K.’ or ‘SilverHawks’ might seem like an automatic pick for the next kids’ show to become a big screen blockbuster, I would be much more interested in seeing something like ‘C.O.P.S.‘ or ‘The Pirates of Dark Water‘. To me, ‘C.O.P.S.’ is almost like a blank canvas and could be made into a future-cop film to great effect. For ‘The Pirates of Dark Water’, the fictional world was pretty fun, and it could use the kick start of a big movie to be brought back to life.

Shannon Nutt

It’s been done before, but someone really needs to take another run at ‘Land of the Lost. Because he was a huge fan and because he was one of the most popular comedians at the box office, Universal made the huge mistake of letting Will Ferrell make a spoof of the series rather than a serious movie. The results were disastrous. The movie cost $100 million and bombed at the box office.

How would a movie that was more loyal to the source material fare? It’s still a gamble, but I think quite well. A well-written ‘Land of the Lost’ movie – especially one that focused on The Lost City and the Sleestak, which were treated as just another joke in the 2009 feature – could be quite entertaining.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Anyone who knows me is probably expecting me to chant ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’!, but I’m going in a completely different direction here. Month after month, I’ve been painstakingly charting advancements made in digital modeling and rendering techniques. I believe technology has finally caught up with my long-held dream to see a kid’s hands turn into tires and his smile transform into a Trans-Am grill. That’s right, the time has come for ‘Turbo Teen‘!

Josh Zyber

Brian dismissed the idea above, but a ‘M.A.S.K.‘ movie seems inevitable to me. The concept, in which a team of heroes drive ordinary-looking cars and trucks that transform into battle-ready combat vehicles, is an easily exploitable knockoff of ‘Transformers’ that should be no problem to realize with modern visual effects.

In fact, look at that, I’m too late. Hasbro’s already on top of it. I told you it was inevitable.

Failing that, I’d like to dredge up a forgotten cartoon series from the ’80s. In ‘Bionic Six‘, a government agent, his wife, and their entire multi-cultural rainbow collection of adopted kids become the test subjects for ‘Six Million Dollar Man’-style cybernetic enhancements after their plane crashes during a ski vacation. Each member of the family gets a specific bionic super power befitting their personalities and stereotypes. (The Asian kid can do super-karate! The athletic whitebread kid can swing steel beams and telephone poles like baseball bats!) Although the team’s brightly-colored spandex costumes were goofy as hell, dress them up in black leather and just imagine what Michael Bay will do with this!

If you were a studio executive, what kids’ TV show would you give the greenlight to adapt into a movie?

32 comments

    • Pedram

      I was also wondering how Thundercats was not mentioned on the list. It’s the first one that came to my mind.
      It might be a bit tricky to do it well with the cat makeup, but the characters and story are pretty cool.

      • William Henley

        I am sure this day and age, the actors would probably wear body suits with refrence points, then get CGed to death, but I would still see that

      • NJScorpio

        I think that with the right cast, a very fine “layer” of CGI could be applied to change the skin tone and add areas of fur (and modify the mouth/ears a bit perhaps), so the actors still look like themselves…not like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (though that was very well done).

  1. photogdave

    Good call on Bionic Six. Clint Eastwood could do a came o as “Filthy Larry”!
    I think a Galaxy Rangers live action movie would kick ass! Think of all the great casting possibilities.

  2. EM

    There’s a telegram for you, Disney, and the message’s clear: it says Schoolhouse Rock!: The Movie had best soon appear!

    Elementary, my dear: That chip off the block of your favorite schoolhouse (Schoolhouse Rock!) is a great American melting pot of songs, superheroes, space, and merchandise bait! Box Office Junction, what’s your function? It’s not just a bill, no, it’s not only a bill—it’s billions! (Look at all the zeroes—my heroes!) Disney, Disney, Disney, get your revenue here! Think interplanet profit! You’ll show excitaement or emotion! Schoolhouse Rock!: that’s what’s happening!!

    Indubitably.

    Darn! That’s the end.

  3. Mike Dietrich

    A little older than the ones mentioned, but Thundar The Barbarian would be great. Swords, mutants, magic and Ookla who always reminded me of Chewbacca. Or if done with the right comedic tone, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt would be nice.

  4. Jonny Quest. The ’60’s version, not any of those remakes. I get cold chills still when I think of that spider robot with the one red eye, or those hovering buckets carrying people across the jungle. Start the money printing machines up!

  5. Deaditelord

    It’ll never happen, but I’d be interested in a live-action Robotech movie. Another He-man movie might be fun too if handled correctly.

  6. Elizabeth

    Inhumanoids.

    She-Ra: Princess of Power

    Voltron I (Vehicle Force) or Voltron II (Robot Force) (Voltron III (Lion Force) is played out)

    A real G. I. Joe movie. Or a good Transformers movie.

    • William Henley

      I would back She-Ra. I was the weird kid, as I prefered She-Ra over her brother Adam (double meaning intended). I could never understand the fascination with He-Man, but She-Ra was hot!

  7. I was quite fond of ‘Mighty Max’ (in fact, I just bought the SNES game and two mint-on-card toys last month) and ‘James Bond Jr.’.

  8. William Henley

    Now that we have had a live-action Jungle Book, Talespin seems like a logical jump.

    On a more serioius note, how about Fantastic Max? Its like a clean version of Stewie from Family Guy and a mix of American dad – genius baby builds robot and has an alien for a friend, has his own rocket ship and goes on adventures.

    Along those notes, another show that aired around the same time was SuperTed. We already had two movies with a talking teddy bear, so tone it down to family friendly and make him a super-hero.

    Its WAY past time for an ALF movie.

    Let me second The Pirates of Dark Water and Thundercats.

    This is a stretch, but during the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, on Fridays there was a Legend of Zelda cartoon series. It is WAY past time for a Legend of Zelda live action movie (although, seeing how well Super Mario Bros went, and the HORRIBLE CD-I Zelda games, I can see Nintendo being reluctant to license their properties again

    BTW, speaking of Pirates of Dark Water, whatever happened to that show? It seems like it just ended mid-story.

    Also, it has been done, but the previous movie was such a disaster, it deserves to be tackled again. The Last Airbender would rock if it had decent screenwriters and director, and if it played out over a couple of movies.

    Going to throw in a couple of animies that would do awesome as live-action movies. Based on current events, a Ranma 1/2 movie would be pretty timely. If it was well done, Sailor Moon would make a good series of movies. Cardcapture Sakura sounds interesting. A Full Metal Alchemist movie (once again, if done by competent people) would be good. If well cast, Oh My Goddess would be nice. If you get a good budget, Tenchi could make a good series of movies.

    Now there are a great deal of other animies that I would love to see as live-action movies, but this is not the place to discuss my weird tastes. And I didn’t really watch those when I was younger anyways, so they are really off topic.

    • Pedram

      Nintendo needs to oversee the license of their characters more closely, or found their own studio like Ubisoft. It looks like the AC movie is shaping up well, but I guess we’ll see after it’s released.

      Zelda looks much more fitted to a movie than Mario Bros. Honestly, how do you make a movie from a game that has plumbers who jump on turtles and eat flowers and mushrooms, while having it be faithful to the source material and still good? The concept just doesn’t translate very well.

      I once saw a fan made short that was pretty cool. It was the brothers defending the princess from an attack, and Toad was a ninja or something like that. It was the closest I’ve seen to something live action that was decent, and still somewhat connected to the game.

      • William Henley

        And that’s the weird thing – the cartoons are actually pretty decent – Super Mario Bros, Captain N, and especially Pokemon all did well (I am honestly surprised that Pokemon has run continuously for as long as it has, and that quality is still as good as it is).

        Hey, that’s a thought – live action movie of Pokemon. Oh, wait, maybe not – a bunch of ten year olds striking out in the world on their own, capturing monsters and teaching them to fight might not go over too well as a live action movie.

        • Pedram

          Well, a cartoon is one thing, but live action is definitely another. Perhaps a CG animated Mario would make more sense. Could you envision a live action version of Wreck It Ralph? I couldn’t but the CG animated version worked quite well.

  9. Beerstalker

    Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors could be cool. Kind of a MASK, Transformers, Maximum Overdrive mashup.

    I always preferred Tigersharks to Thundercats or Silverhawks.

    I’m really surprised with the success of the Transformers movies (which I personally enjoy all of them) that nobody has made a Gobots live action film. I just now looked it up though and it seems like it would be a rights nightmare. I guess HASBRO now owns the rights to the characters and the backstories (they bought out TONKA), but they don’t own the rights to the toys and their likenesses (still owned by Bandai). So Bandai can’t go out and make the movie on their own since they don’t own the backstories, and HASBRO is unlikely to make a movie that is kind of a ripoff of one of their other franchises, especially if they are going to have to license stuff from Bandai to do so.

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