Hollywood is going to continue adapting old TV shows into new movies. That much is a given, and there’s no sense in fighting against the trend. For this week’s Roundtable, we toss out some suggestions for source material yet to be mined for its feature film potential.
Until ‘The Simpsons’ surpassed it several years back, ‘Gunsmoke‘ was the longest-running primetime television series in U.S. history. It’s still the longest-running drama, tied now with NBC’s ‘Law & Order’, both having a 20-year run. From 1957 to 1961, it was the top-rated TV show in America. Back in 2009, there was some chatter about ‘Gunsmoke’ finally being rebooted on the big screen, but five long years later, nothing has materialized. Even though Westerns no longer draw what they used to at the box office, I can’t imagine a better franchise to revive the genre than a film based on this popular series. But, please… I beg of you, Hollywood… don’t cast Johnny Depp as Marshal Dillon.
Any time the topic of a ‘Magnum, P.I.‘ movie comes up in an interview with Tom Selleck, he makes a point of saying that if Hollywood made one and tried to turn the series into a joke (like the awful ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ or ‘Starsky & Hutch’ movies), he most definitely wouldn’t want any involvement, cameo or otherwise. I think he’s right. Why spit in the faces of fans who made the series a hit? And why buy a property just to make fun of it?
Why not take what’s still a good premise, and have Selleck play it straight? An older, wiser, perhaps less carefree Magnum, played by Selleck himself, might be a lot of fun to watch. Of course, given the weight gain or Earthly departures of some of the original cast, many of the other characters would have to be switched around or recast. Still, I’d be willing to check it out.
It’s taken me days to find the name of an old TV series that I loved as a kid, but I finally found it: ‘Hard Time on Planet Earth‘. The show followed a humanoid alien who won countless battle for his planet, but was found guilty for participating in a rebellion. Because of his heroic feats and service, his punishment was reduced from death to having to live on a lesser planet: Earth. To keep their eyes on him, the extraterrestrial leaders sent a floating robot to keep tabs on his Earthly actions. Continuing his heroism once on Earth, he found people that needed saving.
As I watch clips of the old episodes now, I realize that it was a horrible 13-episode series that borrowed the plot of ‘Thor’. Even so, I’d give anything for a blockbuster remake of an unknown series rather than the standard sequelmania that summers have turned into
I am not a fan of adapting TV shows into movies. Plenty of books and plays have been successfully adapted into movies, but something about the multi-week story arcs of TV shows don’t translate well. Or it might be the psychological blocks in my head that expect the story to happen in 23 minutes, not two hours – and that I shouldn’t have to pay to watch it.
If I had to choose, I could see ‘The Rifleman‘ being a good movie. There’s a lot you could do in developing the backstory about the character’s time in the Civil War, how he developed his shooting skills, and more about his relationship with his wife and her untimely death. You could also choose a great Western plot and throw in a few celebrity cameos. This has a lot of potential.
Casting the Chuck Conner replacement would be the biggest challenge. I can’t seem to think of a good rugged upstanding Western type in the younger generation of male actors. Mark Walhberg or Viggo Mortensen (too old)? Chris Hemsworth? Any other ideas?
I watched a lot of crap on TV when I was a kid. I make no apologies for my nostalgic attachment to shows like ‘Knight Rider’ or ‘Airwolf’ that are almost certainly in the pipeline to eventually be adapted by Hollywood. If they turn out as bad as the ‘A-Team’ movie, I think I’d rather just leave them in the past.
However, I still contend that the alien invasion miniseries ‘V‘ is fertile ground for a big-screen remake. The ABC network attempted to reboot the series for television a few years back to mostly poor results (which didn’t stop me from watching it, of course). That show’s failure probably put the kibosh on any other potential adaptations, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s too bad, because if taken seriously and given a respectable (though not outlandish) budget, ‘V’ could be the basis for a genuinely intelligent treatment of the alien invasion genre.
Sadly, I’m not holding my breath for that. If it ever happened, a ‘V’ movie would most likely turn into a stupid ‘Independence Day’ knockoff.
What TV shows would you like to see adapted into movies? Tell us in the Comments.