Cinema #1: The Harsh Reality of Film Adaptations of TV Shows
The cinematic history of old television shows brought to the big screen is a sad one, to say the least. Time after time, great shows have been adapted to film with less than stellar results. Sure, there have been a few good ones, but they’re the exception, not the rule.
So, I’ll spare you the long critiques and give you my one word reviews of TV shows adapted to film:
1. Fat Albert (2004) – Crap
2. Bewitched (2005)– Lame
3. The Honeymooners (2005) – Horrible
4. Get Smart (2008) – Awful
5. The Flintstones (1994)– Garbage
6. Charlie’s Angels (2000) – Lousy
7. The Mod Squad (1999)– Excrement
8. Speed Racer (2008) – Worthless
9. McHale’s Navy (1997) – Dung
10. The Avengers (1998) – Godawful
11. The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) – Mess
12. Dragnet (1987) – Trash
13. George of the Jungle (1997) – Shit
14. My Favorite Martian (1999) – Hellish
15. Lost in Space (1998) – Foul
16. Sgt. Bilko (1996) – Sinful
17. Wild Wild West (1999) - Waste
18. Dukes of Hazzard (2005) - Blows
19. I Spy (2002) - Fail
Starsky & Hutch doesn’t count considering it was much more of a parody than a faithful recreation. The same can be said for The Brady Bunch films.
I can count on one hand the number of TV to film adaptations that I did like: The Addam’s Family, Star Trek movies, The Naked Gun, Twilight Zone, and Scooby-Doo weren’t too bad. I have yet to see Land of the Lost (2009). Judging by why what I’ve read, I’m not in any hurry to see it.
So, what is it? Why is it so damn hard to bring a TV show to the big screen? Perhaps, it’s because the shows were designed for 30-60 minute episodes, and translating it to a feature length film stretches them beyond their intrinsic limitations (i.e. Boss Hogg was funny in small doses, but not for an hour and a half for $8.00). Or maybe it has a lot to do with Hollywood’s laziness – just riding on the name and coasting. For example, relying on the “Mod Squad” title on the marquee to lure in audiences – actually trying to construct a quality script with quality acting does not seem to be of primary concern.
I’m inclined to think it has more to do with laziness. Case in point: both A Night at the Roxbury and The Blues Brothers were both movies based on popular skits from SNL. One became a classic, and the other…. well, the less said about it the better.