The top 10 shows from the ’80s that should be made into a movie


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The arrival of “21 Jump Street” in theaters this week amid heaps of positive buzz has a lot of cinephiles (us included) rethinking their perspective on movies that are based on television series. Not only does the new film pay homage to its source material, but it also reinvents the original premise as a viable, modern-day concept — a balancing act that few of its predecessors were able to perform.

If the early praise for “21 Jump Street” does indeed translate to box-office success, it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see a lot more projects like this moving forward, for better or worse.

So, with that in mind, here are ten TV series from the ’80s that are just begging for the big-screen treatment. In a few cases, we’ve even provided some thoughts on what form the movie should take when the premise makes the jump from living room to movie theater.


This late-’80s series about a guy and his super-powered helicopter was a prime example of Cold War-era entertainment, and while it might horrify purists to even consider this, a parody of the show has lots of potential for nostalgia-fueled comedy. Just imagine an “Airwolf” movie that parodies all those ’80s-era TV series and movies that featured one guy and his helicopter/jet/tank taking on the Communist threat and you’ll start to see the hook.


He’s a wise-cracking, furry alien who lives with a suburban family and is constantly trying to eat their cat. I don’t think there needs to be any more discussion regarding this show’s potential as a big-screen comedy. People love ALF. Give them more ALF.

ALF Opening Credits by AllisonSNLKid

The Fall Guy

Stunt man by day, bounty hunter by night, Colt Seavers is an action hero with a shtick that has big-screen adventure written all over it. Sure, the concept might need to be tweaked a bit (a stunt man who’s framed for a crime and uses his skills to catch the real culprit, perhaps?) but the core idea is great. Of course, any movie based on “The Fall Guy” would have to have a cameo from the original star, Lee Majors.

The Greatest American Hero

An average guy has a close encounter with aliens who give him a costume that grants him all sorts of superhuman powers, but he loses the instruction manual before he learns how to control them. The special effects in this Emmy-nominated series were cheesy even by ’80s standards, but that was part of its charm. Instead of another parody of an old TV series that makes fun of its source material, a “Greatest American Hero” movie already has ready-made comedy gold. Oh, and the original theme song, “Believe It Or Not,” needs to be heard in some form if this project is going to, well… fly.

Hardcastle and McCormick

This series might not be as well-known as some of “21 Jump street” creator Stephen J. Cannell’s other shows (“The A-Team,” “The Greatest American Hero,” etc), but it had a premise that seems like a perfect fit for the big screen. When L.A. Judge Milton C. Hardcastle retires from the courtroom, he takes along the files of 200 people who committed terrible crimes but avoided conviction due to technicalities. He recruits car thief Mark McCormick to help him track down the bad guys, and they each use their respective skills — and a fancy prototype car McCormick tried to steal — to track down the criminals. This show’s just begging for a gritty, fast-paced action film starring a hot, up-and-coming actor as McCormick. You’re welcome, Hollywood.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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