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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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