Starting in the 1980s, the perpetually idea-starved hacks of Hollywood decided that there was easy money to be made in taking classic TV shows and giving them big-screen follow-ups. While some of these were awesome (The Brady Bunch, for example), others really stunk. With Entourage earning less-than-stellar reviews, here are 10 TV-to-movie adaptations that should have stuck to the small screen.
10. Fat Albert
Bill Cosby has done enough to tarnish his once-great legacy all by himself, but this deeply bizarre 2004 adaptation of his classic cartoon certainly didn’t help. SNL’s Kenan Thompson is the big guy in a bizarre metafictional tale where the animated characters jump out of the TV, become flesh and blood, and then meet their creator.
9. Mr. Magoo
There’s a special place in hell for movies that take beloved cartoons and wrench them into the awful world of live-action. Leslie Nielsen’s turn as nearsighted codger Mr. Magoo in the 1997 adaptation was grating and corny, and the flick was pulled from theaters after just two painful weeks.
8. The Avengers
No, not the Joss Whedon superhero juggernaut – this was a lamentable 1998 action flick based on a trend-setting British spy show. Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman star as John Steed and Emma Peel, who have to battle a plot to control the weather. Universal didn’t allow press screenings and the film was cut from 115 minutes to 87, creating an incoherent mess.
7. The Mod Squad
Multiracial teen crime show The Mod Squad was considered pretty progressive when it debuted in 1968, but by 1999 it was nothing more than a footnote. So of course MGM snatched up the rights for a reboot, and the result was a flick that was both boring and regressive. With a 4% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the world seems to agree with us.
6. McHale’s Navy
1997 was the nadir of the TV-to-movie phenomenon, with even relatively obscure properties like McHale’s Navy getting the treatment. The big-screen version starred Tom Arnold in the lead role, which should be a giant flashing warning sign right there. An awful script and a waste of Ernest Borgnine made this one a huge flop.
5. The Gong Show Movie
Probably the only game show that got a big-screen spinoff, The Gong Show Movie follows host Chuck Barris through a week of his life, contending with the talentless lunatics that made his ’70s variety show a success. The flick is an incoherent, unwatchable mess notable only for Jaye P. Morgan’s bare breast and a guy blowing out a candle with his farts.
4. Dudley Do-Right
Brendan Fraser starred as the titular Mountie in this awful adaptation of the Jay Ward cartoon classic, with Sarah Jessica Parker at a career low point as romantic interest Nell. The relentless slapstick and clumsy performances made this film pretty much unwatchable, and it only made back a fraction of its $70 million budget.
3. Wild Wild West
The 1965 Wild Wild West TV show was a fun melding of the dying Western genre with the new hotness of espionage thrillers, but the 1999 movie version starring Will Smith was a moribund, plodding, unfunny affair. A little bit of trivia: the giant robot spider was originally supposed to be the antagonist for producer Jon Peters’ failed Superman film.
2. Car 54, Where Are You?
Originally intended to be a musical comedy but released to theaters with all the songs cut out, this disastrous take on the ’60s sitcom sat on the studio shelf for four years after being filmed. Co-star Rosie O’Donnell has publicly asked people to never watch the movie.
1. The Last Airbender
M. Night Shyamalan pissed off legion of devotees with his live-action adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Whether it was casting white people for Asian roles or pushing eye-straining 3D effects, the movie is considered to be one of the worst of all time. Needless to say, we won’t be getting a sequel.