General Thoughts

Enough of the TV adaptations

The Dukes of Hazzard is just the latest in a long line of lame TV adaptations. Maybe its about time for the major studios to look elesewhere for decent ideas.

The Dukes of Hazzard is just the latest in a long line of lame TV adaptations from the major studios – surely its time for them to look elesewhere for decent ideas.

If you’re a Hollywood exuctive in charge of greenlighting films then the allure of remaking a TV show is fairly simple. There is a built in awareness from the audiences who caught the show first time around (so less marketing costs) and there is the opportunity to build a franchise from the material already laid out in the show’s many episodes. To be fair, some adaptations have been reasonably entertaining. The Fugitive was a solid thriller and Mission: Impossible was pleasingly slick but it is hard to really come up with something truly outstanding that had it’s origins in TV.

Lets take a look at some of the TV adaptations that have stunk out multiplexes in recent years:

Starsky and Hutch (2004): Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson can be funny but this was average beyond belief. It also succumbed to that terrible TV remake disease whereby the original stars of the show are given a ‘hilarious’ cameo. Only it wasn’t hilarious, it was embarrassing.

Thunderbirds (2004): A mediocre and cheesy remake of the TV show notable for the fact that the puppets in the original show had more charisma and charm than the actors of this version.

Charlies Angels: Full Throttle (2003): The first one in 2000 was bad but this expensively assembled train wreck is merely a compilation of action scenes that make no sense (what is it with the motorbike sequence) and scenes where Cameron Diaz Drew Barrymore & Lucy Lui dance around for no reason.

S.W.A.T. (2003): We could file this one in the “does anyone really remember this show?” file. Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell star in a dull cop drama that contains one of the most ridculous climaxes ever seen in action film.

Wild, Wild West (1999): The ‘wicki-wicki-wild-wild’ Will Smith tie-in song. Kenneth Branagh camping it up as the villain. Kevin Kline looking vaguely emabrrassed. And a gigantic mechanical spider. It can only be Warner Brothers tent pole release for 1999.

The Mod Squad (1999): Giovanni Ribisi and Claire Danes in a film so turgid I don’t want to even talk about it.

Lost in Space (1998): Lots of expensive special effects couldn’t hide the bland nature of this dull summer film.

The X-Files (1998): It was a TV adaptation that was exactly (and I mean exactly) like an episode of the TV show, except that it was over an hour long.

Added to the fact that these films aren’t especially good is that they haven’t exactly set world records when it comes to their box office take. Sure, some of them have down well, but apart from the ease of having ready made characters what is the big appeal when such clunkers? To make matters worse TV shows like Six Feet Under and Lost are actually superior to many films both in terms of their writing and production values.

Can you think of any great films that started off in TV?