Network executives love spinning off movies into TV shows. With a popular title comes instant brand recognition. Sometimes this works (‘M*A*S*H’). Often it doesn’t. Two of the most promising shows currently on the air (‘Bates Motel’ and ‘Hannibal’) are spun-off from movies. In this week’s Roundtable, we try to think of some other movie titles that might work in episodic TV form.
You may think that I’m joking, but I’m dead serious with my pick. I walked into ‘The Happening‘ with extremely high hopes. The plot had huge potential: A disease is being passed around that, when contracted, causes the host to immediately commit suicide in the fastest way possible. You can’t deny that this is a pretty genius idea. As proven by Master of Failure M. Night Shyamalan, however, putting that idea into action proved to be a difficult task. I’m convinced that his execution was the very worst possible. I’d like to see a strong set of writers and a proven show-runner take this concept to HBO or Showtime. That way, they can make proper use of the graphic scenario – unlike M. Night, who failed to put his first R rating to use. This concept couldn’t be stretched out for long, but I’d pay to explore the idea for a season or two.
I wasn’t as big of fan of the movie as most others, but I could see an ongoing series based on the concepts presented in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception‘. Pick a couple of strong actors for the leads, and then each week they could be assigned to someone new, jumping into their dreams to implant or remove whatever information was needed. It would/could work very much as a procedural show (which TV networks love), but still have enough “mythology” episodes to keep those who love ongoing storylines and character development interested.
While the franchise was run into the ground years ago, there are enough fresh ideas in the first two ‘Hellraiser‘ movies to justify being explored on a premium cable channel like Showtime. You can mix one-off tales of the people who open Lemarchand’s Box with longer multi-episode arcs that focus on the mythology behind the Cenobites. Most episodes wouldn’t require big budgets, allowing a few episodes per season to go bigger with effects. Given how TV has gotten more and more cinematic lately, a TV series could save the ‘Hellraiser’ franchise from the living hell it’s become.
I want to go with ‘Cabin in the Woods‘ here. The movie has an entire backstory that can be fleshed out like a horror version of ‘Lost’. We find out how it all started, the years and years of success from the sacrifices. Had there been any other “incidents” before the big world-ending one? Maybe even start decades before the movie, with the Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford characters played by younger actors. They’d still need to have that dry humor, of course. Maybe Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass? (I don’t know, just spit-balling here.) The TV spin-off would certainly have to focus on these two characters, how the faceless company works, and the sickly morbid humor that comes with it. Oh, and it’d have to be on HBO or Showtime so it could have the proper amount of swearing, gore and senseless nudity.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
‘UHF‘! It’s a movie about TV shows, so why not go all the way with your Ouroboros circular media maelstrom and have a TV show about a movie about TV shows? I’m a lifelong Weird Al fanatic, and it’s a bit of a drag seeing four or five years pass between AL-bums. What better way to pass the time than a weekly TV series propelled by Al’s manic energy, visual inventiveness and brilliant sense of humor? The TV landscape has changed more than a little bit since 1989 (geez, has it really been that long?), so there’s a whole brave new world there for Al to skewer. I’d watch the heck out of it anyway.
I don’t think they should keep the premise, but I think there’s a great ‘Bridesmaids‘ spin-off comedy series to be made with Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph reprising their characters from that film. With Paul Feig involved, and perhaps Lorne Michaels producing (since he seems to have a piece of every ‘SNL’ star once they leave the show), they could probably pull a series together pretty quickly. Actually, with the Michaels-produced ‘Up All Night’ in some sort of bizarre limbo, they could just dump everyone from that show but Rudolph, bring in Wiig and Feig, and have the spin-off on the air by May.
If you watch the bonus features on the Blu-ray edition of ‘L.A. Confidential‘, you’ll find the pilot episode for a proposed TV spin-off starring Kiefer Sutherland in the Kevin Spacey role. It was terrible – just really awful – and rightfully wasn’t picked up (which is especially fortunate, or we might never have gotten ’24’). Regardless, in the right hands of competent writers and show-runners, I still think that this property has a lot of potential for a TV adaptation. With ‘Mad Men’-quality period details and production values, and the sort of gritty realism that cable cop dramas specialize in, this could be a long-running series on FX or AMC.
Those are some of our ideas. What movies do you think would work as TV spin-offs?