The films that deserve a TV spin-off
‘2012’ director and all-round lord of destruction Roland Emmerich has had a change of heart – now he wants to rebuild. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Emmerich announced his intention to produce ‘2013’, a TV spinoff depicting the human race’s attempts to pick up the pieces in the wake of global disaster. This got us thinking: what other classic movies could have found a home on the small screen?
‘Psycho’: The PsitcomStormin’ Norman slices cheerleaders with a quickness.The movie: Insular loner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is perfectly happy running the family motel until Janet Leigh’s sexually voracious bank teller on the lam trundles blithely into his world.The show: It’s the perfect sitcom setup: one location, multiple guest-star ‘residents’ and a cranky anti-hero to tie the whole thing together. Think ‘Rising Damp’ with a body count.Why it’ll work: Hit serial killer series ‘Dexter’ has already paved the way for death-dealing dramatic heroes, while ‘My Name is Earl’ has proven there’s market for bad boys trying to do better. Audiences will keep tuning in to find out if crazy, loveable Norman is finally going to be able to kick that niggling nymphet-knifing addiction. Not this week, sister! Ouch! Cue canned applause…
Close Encounters… The Adventures ContinuesSynth-blasting aliens pop down for a cosmic jam session.
The movie: A jaw-dropping light show wrapped around a prime slice of vintage Spielburbia, the Magic Beard’s finest hour mixes the mythic with the mundane.The show: At the film’s close, Richard Dreyfus had ditched both family and potential new girlfriend in favour of taking up with a diminutive band of interplanetary pranksters. Limitless possibilities, then, for a budget-intolerant ‘Star Trek’ rip-off in which Rich and the gang throw the Prime Directive in the waste disposal and get busy messing with some brave new worlds.Why it’ll work: If ‘Farscape’ – and the excellent ‘Stargate Universe’ currently showing on Sky – have taught us anything, it’s that people lose their minds for cavernous spaceships, displaced humans and shonky SFX.
The King of Comedy: Late Nite!Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro dissect the fame game
The movie: Deluded, no-talent comic Rupert Pupkin decides that schlepping around open-mic nights and earning his comedy spurs the hard way is beneath him and instead kidnaps and ransoms Jerry Lewis’s talk show host in order to fast-track his fifteen minutes of fame.The show: When we left Rupert he was just coming out of jail for the kidnapping and had authored a best-selling book. Whatever statement Marty intended to make on the decay of American values, the fact remains that Rupert was well on his way to a chat show of his own. Everything is set up perfectly for a scabrous ‘Larry Sanders’ style satire that lifts the skirts of Hollywood and yanks hard.Why it’ll work: A shiny-floor show picking over Tinseltown scandals? It doesn’t get any more ‘now’!
They Live 2010John Carpenter’s paranoid sci-fi satire on Reaganomics has lost none of its relevance
The movie: Humanity has been brainwashed by capitalist aliens whose presence can only be detected by those with special signal-blocking sunglasses. Wrestling legend ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper has come to chew bubblegum and kick ass, but finds himself increasingly deficient in the bubblegum department.
The show: Twenty years on, the aliens have shipped ‘Rowdy’ Roddy to the nuthatch and regained control of the planet. But you can’t keep a good species down, and it’s not long before the new rebels (almost certainly led by Michael Ironside) are ready to spring Roddy, spit out the bubblegum and strap on their ass-kicking boots once more. Oh, and Keith David had better be resurrected.
Why it’ll work: Is there anything the public loves more right now than spaceships, political satire and ageing wrestlers? And the chance for cultural comment is simply endless: is our current economic crisis a sign the aliens are losing their grip? Are they creating global warming to create a more comfortable alien environment? And was Michael Jackson killed because he discovered the truth, or because he was one of them all along?
Breaking the Waves: Diary of a Hebridean Call-GirlEmily Watson gets on her knees for a variety of diverse reasons.The movie: Innocent Hebridean lassie Bess (Emily Watson) turns tricks for sailors in an attempt to debase herself before God following hubby Stellan Skarsgard’s oil-rig accident.The show: Bess’s ongoing holy mission forms the backbone of the show, with weekly guest-star ‘johns’ to include the likes of Graham Norton as a gay TV host ‘trying it straight’, and Robert Carlyle taking the dual roles of cuddly cop Hamish Macbeth and beloved Scots rumbler Begbie, as the two iconic characters duke it out for poor Bess’s affections! Water-cooler TV at its finest.
Why it’ll work: From ‘Emmerdale’ to ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, tales of village life have become staple viewing for the chattering classes. Then there’s that ‘Heartbeat’-style period angle, allowing for all kinds of wistful ’70s nostalgia and great music. Throw in some exploitative sex and you’ve got a surefire ratings winner.
The Wild Geese: Botswana or BustA platoon of soused squaddies reform (again) to liberate the people of Africa
The movie: On their first reunion tour they successfully toppled Stuart Granger’s jumped-up copper magnate, then went on to spring Rudolph Hess from Spandau Prison.
The show: Think ‘The A-Team’, but older, drunker and more likely to have to stop mid-way through a gun battle for tea, biscuits and a pipe full of Virginia Shag. Each week, a the team are torn away from their loving mistresses and (love) children to educate the populations of Europe, Asia and Africa in their defiantly British brand of shoot-first gunboat diplomacy.
Why it’ll work: ‘Work’ is perhaps a little hopeful, but there’s no doubt that its aggressive, Best of British viewpoint will appeal to aged servicemen, dyed-in-the-wool Tories and the Ross Kemp set.
Five movies that already became TV shows:
‘Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore’
Martin Scorsese’s modest small-town romance produced one of the ’70s biggest sitcoms.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’
Short-lived slasher soap ‘Freddy’s Nightmares’ was an object lesson in how not to adapt for telly.
An odd choice: Percy Adlon’s gorgeously minimalist comedy of manners became a mercifully short-lived studio sitcom.
‘The American President’
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took what he’d learned on this dewy-eyed Rob Reiner romcom and created liberal ratings juggernaut ‘The West Wing’.
One of the astronauts became a hologram, another morphed into a cat. But otherwise, the formula remained largely unchanged…
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