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The big-screen afterlife of TV shows.

The big-screen afterlife of TV shows. (photo)

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It’s not entirely clear why canceled TV shows aren’t content to go away and die somewhere quietly, though in today’s world of corporate synergy that values brands, nothing is really ever prepared to die. If they can, they will return as movies, to general public bafflement. Such was the case with “Serenity,” Joss Whedon’s continuation of the culty “Firefly,” which didn’t make back its budget until hitting DVD in spite of a hardcore fanbase. Likewise, there has been more drama surrounding possible big-screen continuations of “Arrested Development,” HBO’s follow-up to “Rome” and “24” (which begs the question wouldn’t a two-hour movie in real time have to take place on one set pretty much?) than any resulting movie could have and like the upcoming “Sex and the City 2,” in which the ladies visit fabulous, alcohol-soaked Abu Dhabi (?),” I’m not sure we really need them.

This is all marginally less cynical than the now-outdated practice of simply repackaging TV series for theaters — something that once happened and now would be laughed off the screen. Yet it worked for the smartly exploitative producers of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” who realized their James Bond-esque universe (logically enough, since Ian Fleming contributed to the show’s creation) could make even more money in the theaters. And so audiences globally were treated to no less than eight “movies” culled from reedited episodes, all of which have entertaining titles, from the straight-up Bond-ly “How To Steal The World” to the mild-mannered “The Spy in the Green Hat” (that’s all? really?).

The selling points of the Frankensteined films were color (the first two “U.N.C.L.E.” episodes turned into movies were shot in color but only broadcast in black-and-white), added sex and violence, and guest stars. Bypassing the big theaters, the movies went directly to neighborhood theaters and eventually skipped American theaters entirely and went straight for the lucrative foreign market, which has always been less than picky about its American imports. This is only slightly less stupid than, say, James Cameron deciding to re-issue “Avatar” with less of those boring war sequences and more of the “deep stuff” about “Pandora’s ecology.”

Another TV series that got the re-edited cinematic treatment was the original “Battlestar Galactica,” which at least could claim a novel justification: the pilot episode was interrupted for an hour by the signing of the Camp David peace accords. (Why there were two more subsequent movies is a different question.)

So let’s give thanks, at least, that TV producers looking to keep a good thing going won’t just splice 15 minutes of “too hot for TV” footage into something; that’s what DVD is for. That said, it’s worth your time to look at the fairly insane trailer for 1967’s “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” spinoff “The Karate Killers,” which pointedly announces “This may well be one of the most exciting pictures you’ll ever see on any screen.” Indeed. Co-starring Joan Crawford…and Terry-Thomas:

[Photos: “Serenity,” Universal Pictures, 2005; “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” NBC, 1964]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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