DID YOU READ

6 Great TV Shows Adapted From Movies (and 6 Really Terrible Ones)

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Adapting a television show from a movie isn’t easy. Just because something works on the big screen doesn’t mean it can hold up to the rigors of episodic storytelling. The task of replacing actors, characters, even tone, on a fraction of the budget, can leave the best intentioned projects looking like cheap fan fiction (minus the creepy sex). And that’s ignoring those shows that were green lit as cash grabs, banking on a title, in place of a good script. There’s no steadfast rule as to what works, and what doesn’t. Here’s a look at some of the best and worse examples of this trend.

GREAT: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

An example of what can happen when a great idea is allowed room to grow, original screenwriter Joss Whendon was put in charge of the TV version of the 1992 Kristy Swanson cult favorite movie, and given a long leash to explore the world of Sunnydale High. What resulted was one of the most revolutionary shows in the medium’s history. Never happy with the film’s execution, Whedon reworked the broad humor into something far more clever, and grounded the emotions, creating an all-time classic in the process.


NOT GREAT: Uncle Buck

And then there is was the TV version of Uncle Buck, which replaced the lovable and hilarious John Candy with the less lovable and hilarious Kevin Meaney. Ironically the crass sitcom wouldn’t be entirely out of place on CBS’ current line-up of multi-camera laugh-a-thons.


GREAT: Fargo

This show had no business succeeding. Operating with the unique tone of the Coen Brothers’ original film, nearly two decades after it came out, the chances of coming off like a Halloween costume brought to life were legitimate. And yet, somehow creator Noah Hawley found a way to honor the original while carving out room for his own characters’ stories. Hiring Coen vet Billy Bob Thornton only helped this show become a worthy successor to its Oscar-winning predecessor.


NOT GREAT: Ferris Bueller

This show was doomed from its opening scene, when lead Charlie Schlatter of 18 Again! fame cut a cardboard cutout of Matthew Brodrick in half with a chainsaw, calling his performance as Ferris “too white bread.” Well, the only reason we’re watching this show is because we liked that performance, thus making us wonder, why are we watching this show? Interestingly enough, another Ferris rip-off, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, debuted at the same time, and became a hit largely because it wasn’t so handcuffed by the original.


GREAT: Alien Nation

Much like Highlander: The Series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, this show is the perfect example of a movie creating a world so rich, it needed more than a two-hour running time to do it justice. The creators of this adaptation knew television was the perfect place to explore the nuanced politics of the original over time, while still throwing in a bunch of weird alien sex and murder.


NOT GREAT: Tremors

And then there are the worlds we don’t need to know anything more about. That isn’t meant to knock the 1990 classic Tremors, but we got most of the information we needed from it at the time. Worms under the sand? Check. Fred Ward is grumpy? Check. The two straight-to-DVD sequels helped fill in the blanks for the real diehards. By the time Sci-Fi green lit this TV series, the only cast member still hanging on was ’80s TV Dad Michael Gross. When your fourth lead is now expected to carry the show, you have a problem.

GREAT: M*A*S*H

A Robert Altman classic about the futility of war, showrunner Larry Gelbart found a way to translate the film to the very specific conventions of the 1970s sitcoms. Pitch black humor and dying soldiers don’t seem to scream for a laugh track, but Gelbart and his crew of talented writers found a formula that would lead to 14 Emmys. Though it ran for twice the length of the Korean War it was set it, the all-star cast helped turn this project into one of the great sitcoms of all time.


NOT GREAT: The Net

Hey, do you remember the movie The Net? I think it starred Sandra Bullock? Came out in the 90s? Was about this new fangled thing called the Internet? Not ringing a bell? And yet someone decided that this bland, forgettable artifact of its time was just the vehicle to launch a TV series off of. Either that, or they lost a bet. Either way, it wouldn’t last a season, and would never be spoken of again. But if you like heroes trying to fight crime using dial-up AOL accounts, then this is the show for you.


GREAT: Friday Night Lights

An example of a great movie translating perfectly to the small screen, Friday Night Lights felt no need to reinvent the wheel. Shepherded by the film’s director, Peter Berg, the show found a way to use what worked about the hit movie, and then dig in even deeper to tell the story of the Dillon Panthers. Here’s a show, based on a movie, based on a book, based on a true story, and yet each iteration has somehow succeeded on its own merits.

Catch Friday Night Lights tonight at 10:15p on IFC.


NOT GREAT: Dirty Dancing

Nobody tried to reinvent the wheel here either, which turned out to be a mistake. For a movie based on the star appeal and romantic chemistry of its leads, this show became an experiment in what would happen without either. It turns out the answer was leaden performances and a series of bland dance numbers. No one had the time of their life watching this flop.


GREAT: Parenthood (2010 – 2015)

Jason Katims of My So-Called Life and Friday Night Lights fame managed to successfully turn the very ’80s Steve Martin comedy into a resonate family drama for our time.


NOT GREAT: Parenthood (1990 – 1991)

Except that it wasn’t the first time NBC tried its hand at a Parenthood show. Back in 1990, Ed Begley Jr., David Arquette, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Thora Birch starred in a sitcom version that skewed closer to the movie. (It even transported Randy Newman’s “I Love to See You Smile” from the movie for the theme song.) As early attempts at the single camera dramedy go, it’s not terrible. (Joss Whedon was on the writing staff.) But as adaptations of Parenthood go, it comes in a distinct second.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

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This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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