ASH was one of the best comedies every to air on TV. It was well written, had a stellar cast, and the finale set records that still have not been met. The funny thing is that MASH was aÂ hit movie. Of course, MASH was a Robert Altman film (that I hated, but I digress) and it successfully made the transition to TV series. This can happen once in awhile. Private Benjamin is another example. Alice was a successful adaptation And what do you think of when I say Buffy? However, the sad fact is that the majority of attempts to adapt hit movies into TV shows fail pitifully.
Normally I only discuss shows which had a short lifespan here, but I am going to go against that so I can discuss a few shows which did manage to last for a bit. Here are a few examples of sitcoms based on movies.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I already did a whole article on this, so rather than repeat myself I will share the link if you’re curious what I thought about this awful series.
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
I hated this show, and that’s all I have to say about it. Oh, ok. It starred Bill Bixby as a single father and basically the premise was that the kid keeps trying to set his father up with women. Kind of like Sleepless in Seattle I guess. I just could not get into this show, but I respect Bill Bixby and the series did have a healthy run. The movie starred Glen Ford and Ron Howard.
The Bad News Bears
This may be one of the first. The Bad News Bears was a quirky baseball movie starring Walter Mathau. It’s ok, I think I saw it once. The series is pretty much the same premise, coach of a bumbling group of junior high schoolers. It had potential and did manage two seasons but multiple time slot changed caused people to lose interest fast.
Yes, this happened. Working Girl was a little comedy movie in 1988 which I actually liked. Sure, it’s cliche today but I can’t hold that against the film. What I can hold against it is the pitiful excuse for TV series that was developed from it. Starring a young Sandra Bullock and Nana Visitor, it was a bland office comedy that looked like every other office comedy out there. At least they were smart enough to use “Let The River Run” as the theme song, since that is the only way this would even remotely feel like the movie. Sorry but Sandra Bullock is no Melanie Griffith
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
I direct you to the TV Trash episode all about the awful show. Long story short, Bill & Ted’s was a silly and yet enjoyable movie. The TV series, wasn’t. This came after the animated series which was decent. Let’s just say this show was hated by all, even the people who starred in it! This is actually a good example of what is wrong with many of these examples, not understanding the original actors and/or source material!
I don’t believe it either. At least most of these sort of make sense, who thought this would work? Hey Fame was a hit, right? Well yeah but Fame had a premise that easily lent itself to a series. Dirty Dancing?? I don’t remember this one at all, of course I didn’t care about the movie in those days (I have seen it and liked it since). Not much else to say, the show didn’t last very long at all. Why would it? It was the movie stretched over several episodes.
Look Who’s Talking (Baby Talk)
Sometimes it seems like everything is trying to keep a show from being created. And then it does finally air…and sucks. Look Who’s Talking was a surprise hit movie, with John Travolta and Bruce Willis as the voice of the baby. So why not do a series? First Connie Selleca quit. Then George Clooney quit (smart man). Then the show aired with Julia Duffy. And was awful, critics HATED it! A retooling brought in a whole new premise and Mary Page Keller and Scott Baio. It was better but by then everyone had lost interest. Oh, and the voice of the baby was provided by Tony Danza in the series which wasn’t so bad. Thank goodness for TGIG because this show kind of fit in there, and yet it still only managed one full season.
9 to 5
I freaking adore this movie! It is absolutely one of my favorite comedies of all time! Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda were brilliant and you don’t have to be a woman to appreciate a premise of hating your boss and wishing you could punish him. So why not make it a series! Yeah, it didn’t work. The big problem with this show was the casting, they just couldn’t find the right actors to play these characters and it fell apart. Also they watered down the boos so rather than be a callous jerk he was just a bumbling buffoon. This show did pull itself together and managed to have a decent syndicated run.
You may think I am referring to the hit NBC drama, but actually I am talking about the 1990 series which was short lived. Yeah, this was adapted twice. The 1990 version starred Ed Begley Jr and wasn’t all bad. Truth is I am not sure why it didn’t catch on, I watched it and liked. It did follow the basic premise of the film and the characters were all there. I am glad the new series worked though I have stopped watching it. NBC did a horrible marketing tactic that year, premiering shows before the official premiere. They showed the pilot episodes a few weeks early, and then again when they were supposed to air. This basically gave people a chance to watch the competitions show since they had already had a “sneak preview” of the first episode. They did it with five shows, all were cancelled fast. I think NBC learned a big lesson that season.
This silly little John Candy movie was a moderate hit, and introduced the world to Macaulay Culkin. The premise was simple, singe slob brother in law has to babysit. Then the series came along, and right from the start it sucked. Why? Because the premise was changed to uncle has to raise the kids because parents were killed off. Even worst? Kevin Meaney was in the lead, and he is no John Candy. It also had crude comedy, well crude for the time anyway. The final nail in the coffin was the tine slot, Friday nights opposite ABC’s TGIF lineup. I never did see the series from what I’ve heard I didn’t miss much. I watched the opening on YouTube and it looked more like a SNL parody sketched than a real TV show.
I hated this movie. Turns out the TV series wasn’t very good either. The series starred Kate Jackson and was about a working single mother trying to raise a little girl by herself. Yeah, sounds boring. It was, and it was gone after a few weeks. Why do people think that just setting a show in an office means gold? The reason shows like Mary Tyler Moore and The Office work is because the characters were very fleshed out, and funny. Shows like this and Working Girl apparently never got that.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
This movie was a surprise hit and I enjoyed it. The TV series was just so,Â generic. There was nothing special about it, and they watered down the characters. This could have had potential seeing how many actors from the original film reprised their roles. The show was called My Big Fat Greek Life and was a short lived mid season replacement. It should be a study for what makes sitcoms different from movies.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
Could Disney have milked this franchise any more? I mean, I liked the first movie. It was fun. But more Movies, a theme park attraction, and yes a TV series. Wow. What’s really amazing is that this show actually lasted for a few seasons. What was the premise? Well basically the family have a all sorts of wacky experiments aside from the shrinking machine. Basically anything that serves the plot, from a time machine to a device that swaps minds. Um, if this guy can build all these then how is he not a Nobel price winner?Â To be fair, this was aimed at kids and with that in mind I can almost forgive it. Not the worst on this list.
Harry and the Hendersons
This lasted three seasons? The movie starred John Lithgow and was about a family who runs into Bigfoot…with their car. They then bring him home, and hijinks ensue!Â It was totally ridiculous premise and yet somehow it worked. It was charming and funny, and I still remember it. The series was well liked. I guess it was sort of an Alf knock off, and somehow it worked although I never watched it. Thank goodness for syndication.
Yes I left off Weird Science. I really don’t know much about either movie or series. Finally, before someone asks I did not mention The Odd Couple because that is really based on a Neil Simon play. I did see the Walter Mathau/Jack Lemmon movie and liked it. of course I am familiar with the TV series which made Jack Klugman and Tony Randall household names. It’s a can’t miss premise no matter what formate it’s in.
These adaptations usually suck. The only thing worst is going the other way, trying to adapt a sitcom into a major motion picture. But that is another article my friendsÂ