Thursday, June 23, 2005

TV to Movie

Why do they do it - make TV shows into movies? Sometimes it works but usually it doesn't. MSNBC has an article on this but I don't agree with them on some and I haven't seen others.

Of course, the reason they do it is for money. A TV show has a built-in audience and name recognition so it sounds like a good idea. There are enormous problems with the concept, though. The record of successes to total flops is almost as bad as for movies based on SNL sketches.

TV shows often work because of the chemistry of the cast. That is hard to reproduce. Just look at the Avengers. The movie was totally miscast.

There is a tendency to try to make the movie bigger than the TV show in order to justify it being a movie. The Avengers is an example of this. So is the first Star Trek. The studio kept rejecting scripts as "not big enough". In the push to make a BIG movie, the qualities that made the show appealing in the first place are lost.

TV shows have more time. Even though they are packaged in smaller chunks, a sitcom will have around six and a half hours per season of material. An hour drama will have twice that. This gives the writers time to throw in off-beat episodes. Star Trek 4 & 6 gave each of the cast their own little bits but in the series these characters might get an entire episode.

At the same time, the concepts of the TV show often go down better in small doses. The Adam west Batman movie had the same cast and crew as the TV show but it just didn't work. It tried to be too big and it pumped up the plot to last 90 minutes. The show continued successfully in half-hour chunks.

Given that, it is a wonder that any TV shows ever made a good movie.

Star Trek managed with both the original cast and the Next Generation but it is well known that odd-numbered Trek movies suck.

The House of Dark Shadows also worked - one of the few TV-to-movies from the 1960s that did work.

The Addams family worked. They kept enough of the original show to suggest it but reworked it enough to fashion an interesting movie.

Maverick also worked (my wife and I liked it). I know that I watched it when it was new but I cannot remember a single episode so I was not comparing it with the original.

This was not true for Wild Wild West. I loved that show and I hated the movie.

Scooby Doo worked surprisingly well. It also did something that the original cartoons never did - it surprised me when they reviled the villain.

Hitchhiker's Guide was good. It suggested the original while packaging it into a movie.

I'm not sure how to count Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Hulk. They started as comic books, then became TV shows and eventually moved onto the big screen.

Bewitched is coming out this weekend and the Firefly movie Serenity will be out in Sepember (not a good sign). We will see if either of these is any good.

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