5 Terrible TV Shows (That Began As Great Movies)
If you want to create a TV show, there are tons of ways to find inspiration. You can go the modern route and look to the printed page to find the next Game Of Thrones. You can even make a sequel to an old show and pretend people will still care. If you want to be a dick about it, you can sit around writing an original script that's based on an original idea and make an original show. But, that's stupid.
Or, you can attempt to pull off what might be one of the most difficult challenges in all of Hollywood: turning a movie into a good TV show. It's often attempted, rarely successful. As you read this, there are dozens of movies being turned into TV shows. But, judging from the track record, the best most of those shows can hope for is ending up as a two-sentence-long subsection on the original movie's Wikipedia page. Most are so embarrassingly bad they're instantly forgotten. However, you can't run from the Internet. It knows all the embarrassing shit you would rather forget, including Hollywood's numerous failed attempts at pulling off the movie-to-TV adaptation.
I can only hope all upcoming TV adaptations aren't as forgettably bad as ...
Clerks: The Sitcom
In the middle of filming Mallrats back in 1995, Kevin Smith found out that casting was underway on the TV version of his classic indie comedy Clerks. Up until that moment, he had no idea anyone had been adapting the movie he wrote, produced, directed, and edited -- into a TV series.
He's Silent Bob, not Deaf-Mute Bob.
A pilot episode was eventually shot. It didn't include a single member of original film's cast, and the characters are all cleaner and more TV-friendly, making them the harder-to-relate-to versions of their film counterparts. Smith's patented vulgar, snappy dialogue that feels like it would be more at home in a stage play performed in a middle-school-aged boy's bathroom is gone, replaced with generic sitcom setups and punchlines so weak the only way to tell someone had told a joke is by waiting for the inevitable cue of canned laughter.
Everything that felt fresh and original, and even revolutionary, about Smith's movie was burned to the ground and replaced with a strip mall. It's a perfect example of what happens when you take a small, crude, underground voice and point of view and try to sanitize it for mainstream audiences. After hearing about the show, Smith tried to take part by writing a script for an episode ... which was rejected by the producers. Though, even if they did like it, it's not like his script would ever been shot. The show never made it past its pilot episode. Watch it, and you'll see why:
Casablanca (1955) and Casablanca (1983)
Whenever film buffs try to quantify the "best film of all time" debate, Casablanca ends up somewhere near the top of the list, along with Citizen Kane and City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly's Gold. It's widely considered one of the finest examples of filmmaking and screenwriting ever produced, so, of course, TV producers thought they could replicate Casablanca's lightning-in-a-bottle level of quality for the length of an entire TV season. Twice.
The first attempt at a TV adaptation was in 1955, 13 years after the movie's release. A lot of the actors who had played minor characters in the movie were brought back to play larger roles in the show. In the film, Marcel Dalio played a small part as the operator of a roulette table. In the show, he got bumped up to the role of Captain Renault, one of the most important characters in the story. The show was a prequel to the movie, and it only lasted 10 episodes before people realized they didn't want to watch Casablanca for 10 hours.
The proof that humans are constantly teetering on the edge of insanity by doing the same dumb things over and over and expecting different results comes in the form of the second Casablanca show, this one from 1983. If the '80s show had bet the '50s show that it could get canceled in five less episodes, it would have won. By this point, the movie had been canonized as one of the greatest ever. Generations had grown up with it in their lives. The 1984 attempt at a show didn't stand a chance. It didn't help that, like the '50s Casablanca show, this one was also a prequel, taking place about a year before the events of the movie.
Prequels are the coward's sequel.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures
After the two Bill & Ted movies, and after the short-lived Bill & Ted animated TV series, but before the currently running Bill & Ted comic book, and long before the long-lived rumor of a third Bill & Ted movie, and sometime after the expiration dates of the Bill & Ted breakfast cereal, there was a live-action Bill & Ted TV series. Even as a big fan of the movies, I still wonder why the franchise extended so far beyond the silver screen and into our TV screens and stomachs and, eventually, our toilets. Bill and Ted did not need to be eaten and turned into the shit-logs of children across North America.
As close mankind has ever gotten to eating Keanu Reeves.
The show aired on Fox in 1992 and lasted a whole seven episodes before its inevitable cancellation. I say inevitable because the show is an interminable bore from the first minute. On YouTube, each 22-minute episode has been broken down into five-minute chucks. Each of those chunks feels like the length of a feature film that has the pacing of an old man drowning in jam. They must have only had eight pages of script but 22 minutes to fill, because every action, every line, and every cut lingers just a little bit longer than it should to make up the difference.
The actors who played TV Bill and Ted suffer from the same problem as the guys who played Harry and Lloyd in Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd: They're doing as well as can be expected from what is clearly a case of bad fan fic brought to life by a dark wizard. Their chemistry is on par with that of a meth lab explosion.
Every second of the show feels exactly like what it was: a blatant cash grab. There was a clause in the contract between Fox and the production company that stipulated the show would only go into production if Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey grossed an undisclosed amount at the Box Office. It did, and viewers waiting for a new episode of In Living Color every Sunday night had to first sit through seven weeks worth of two guys too stupid to get how they've blown the Earth's timeline into smithereens.
As Gladstone once pointed out, there were technically two Ferris Bueller shows to ever make it to air. The one you would be slightly more aware of is the Ferris Bueller rip-off, Parker Lewis Can't Lose. The other one was an official Ferris Bueller TV show, brilliantly titled Ferris Bueller. Both premiered in August 1990. Parker Lewis Can't Lose lasted three full seasons, whereas Ferris Bueller was a gigantic piece of shit that should have been burned at the stake and spat upon by passersby after the pilot, but, instead, lasted 13 episodes -- all of which you can watch on YouTube. Why you would, I don't know.
This is the whitest picture ever taken.
Everything about it is terrible, with particular emphasis on the guy playing Ferris. In the movie, Ferris Bueller comes off as possessing an almost mythical level of cool. He's is a teenage god. He's everything every high school male ever wanted to be. He's a 1980s suburban Prince Charming.
In the show, he's a smarmy, unlikable little twerp. It goes to show how much of a tight-rope walk that character is, and how well he was played by Matthew Broderick. A quarter-inch too much this way or that, and Ferris nosedives from the heights of charming to the depths of punch-able pompousness. The very first scene of the series is TV-Ferris taking a chainsaw to a cardboard cutout of Matthew Broderick, claiming he's too "whitebread" to play Ferris:
This would be fine if that opening salvo from a no-name actor launched toward the sole iconic interpretation of the character wasn't immediately followed by one of the most truly terrible, truly awkward, and truly whitebread opening title sequences in television history:
The show was able to foresee how terrible and dated its opening titles would look years later, so it went ahead and parodied itself before anyone could get to it.
All of this is made even worse by Ferris' sister. Just like the movie, Jeanie Bueller has a huge stick up her ass, and she can't understand why everyone loves Ferris. But, in the show, she's played by Jennifer Aniston four years before Friends. Any time she shares a scene with Ferris, she radiates the cool "it factor" the show should have, but is entirely devoid of. That's how bad the show is: Ferris' uncool tight-assed, wet-blanket sister is cooler than Ferris.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest
It's hard to comprehend the hows and whys and oh-dear-God-whys of it, but, at one point in human history, there was a person who watched the two Mortal Kombat movies from the 1990s and thought the world needed to be punished with a new one of those every week. Even more difficult to understand: That person told the idea to a second, more powerful person, and that person (probably burning in hell right now, to be fair) thought that was a splendid idea and made it happen and then shoved a child and crushed a pretty flower in his palm. And thus, Mortal Kombat: Conquest was born.
After that, a screenplay needed to be written. So, some Styrofoam rocks and a roundhouse kick co-wrote the script and wrote themselves into every scene. Every episode was directed by the sugar-rush boner of a 13 year old from 1993 as it rubbed on a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet. Actors needed to be hired, so actors were not hired. Roles were filled based primarily on how people's hair flew around when they did flips. All in all, the whole thing feels like a Cinemax softcore porn where they replaced the sex scenes with footage of kaiju wrestling.
If you really want to get a feel of what this show is like, here's an actual five-star review of the DVD from Amazon:
For more from Luis, check out 4 Harsh Truths It's Time To Accept About Modern Pop Culture and 4 Reasons A Termite Infestation Is Absolutely Terrifying.
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