The Awful ‘Ferris Bueller’ TV Show Opened With the New Ferris Chainsawing Matthew Broderick’s Likeness in Half

‘Ferris Bueller’ blew its chances at ever becoming a passable sitcom in its very first cold open
The Awful ‘Ferris Bueller’ TV Show Opened With the New Ferris Chainsawing Matthew Broderick’s Likeness in Half

Life moves pretty fast. It moves a lot slower when you’re watching the painfully terrible intro of the equally terrible Ferris Bueller sitcom.

On paper, you can see why Paramount was eager to turn their 1986 hit teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off into an at least watchable sitcom centered around the title character. After all, Matthew Broderick’s performance as the devilishly charming delinquent who spends a sick day enjoying all the most iconic sights and sounds of Chicago perfectly captured a cultural moment during director John Hughes’ legendary run of classic teen movies set and shot in and around the Windy City. 

However, the turd that Paramount Television squeezed out in 1990 was neither watchable nor iconic — in fact, the ABC show Ferris Bueller was so bad and so unpopular that the network ended up canceling the abomination in the middle of its first season.

Expectations for the TV adaptation of a film contingent on its main character’s cool factor were understandably high, and the makers of Ferris Bueller foolishly believed that the only way they could pull off a successful sitcom reimagining of the source material was to one-up Matthew Broderick. Actor Charlie Schlatter played the new Ferris Bueller, and, in an attempt to cast off comparisons to the previous star, the writers had Schlatter take a chainsaw to a cardboard cutout of Broderick while lobbing lame insults at the superstar who twist-and-shouted the non-franchise to critical and commercial success in the first place.

It took Ferris Bueller exactly 30 seconds to crap all over the beloved movie and movie star who made the show possible in the first place. That chainsaw should have been aimed toward the writers’ room instead.

At the very least, the conceit at the center of the Ferris Bueller TV show is a novel one. Rather than making the series a prequel or a sequel of the original movie with no explanation given for why Ferris has lighter hair and less charisma, the makers of Ferris Bueller framed the show around the idea that this Ferris, Schlatters Ferris, is the “real” Ferris Bueller, and the much more popular film and leading man were themselves adaptations of this real Ferris life and persona.

The rest of the cast of Ferris Bueller were all similarly doing poor, hammed-up impressions of the movie performances, including a young, pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston as Ferris combative sister Jeannie. Aniston later revealed that she and Schlatter engaged in a “brief, torrid romance” during the making of Ferris Bueller, which, frankly, should have been used by the writers to punch up their dismal scripts — an incest storyline would at least have been awful in an exciting way as opposed to their plodding plots.

One of the many, many reasons why Ferris Bueller didnt work as a show is because the original movie is all about a high schooler ditching class and having one amazing, coming-of-age adventure with the people closest to him. However, Ferris cant exactly play hooky every week, so Schlatters Ferris spends most of the series in school. Its like if they turned Dazed and Confused into a show about a bunch of high schoolers who all volunteer for D.A.R.E.

But the worst part of Ferris Bueller, besides its insistence on crapping all over the movie it could never compare to and besides the god-awful theme song that sounds like they composed it entirely from the soundtrack of a forgotten Commodore 64 game, was that they moved the setting to Los Angeles and completely cut out arguably the second most important character from the original film: Chicago.

Hughes called Ferris Bueller's Day Off “my love letter to the city (of Chicago),” and making Ferris Bueller yet another TV show set in boring old Southern California completely killed the sitcoms chances at recapturing even a fraction of the films charm. Those writers might as well have had Schlatter saw Mike Ditka in half while they were at it.


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