Sprinkled within the long history of crappy movies based on TV shows(e.g., The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched) are a few gems that not only are popular with fans of the shows, but manage to attract a wider audience. I have always been puzzled by why Hollywood has such a difficult time turning highly popular television programs into decent movies. Whatever the reason, here are my three choices of TV-to-movie transitions that actually were worth the time to make:
3) Star Trek: The Motion Picture(1979): For a relatively short-lived TV series that never did very well in the ratings, Star Trek has certainly managed to score big at the box office. While there are many Star Trek movies to choose from, I have chosen the first due to the amazing excitement it garnered among fans of the show.
Ten years after the show was canceled and shortly after a new Star Trek TV series was scrapped before it ever got going(source), Star Trek: The Motion Picture made its appearance at theaters. The movie featured the original cast and represented a welcome trip down memory lane for fans of the series.
Even for those who were not alive at the time of the original program, many had come to love the show through reruns. The movie’s story was ingenious and heady but avoided being so technical that the non-scientific would have problems understanding it. The actors seemed to slip effortlessly back into their roles, and the movie was a great success.
2) The Untouchables(1987): Based on the 1959 TV series, this movie chronicled the battle between T-Man Eliot Ness and gangster Al Capone. Boasting an all-star cast that included Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Costner, this film was a high-octane romp(at least for the time) that attracted a large audience, many who had never seen the TV show.
Part of the beauty of this movie was the style. The cars, clothing, and sets took viewers back to the time of the prohibition with tremendous flare. As far as the plot goes, the movie managed to be very exciting for a story about a guy who gets caught for tax evasion!
The acting was very good, especially from De Niro and Connery, and the score(which included the famous Vesti la giubba aria of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci) added to the tension and artistry of the movie.
1) The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!(1988): Quite possibly the worst cancellation in television history, Police Squad! was an original and hilarious series that lasted only six episodes in 1982(source). Filled with dry humor and parody, the show was as funny as anything on TV at the time.
The movie(and its two sequels) was a bit more of an adult imagining of the show, but one that worked very well. The same serious-in-the-face-of-the-absurd humor is there, the same parodying, and even a few mature gags. Without giving away too much of the plot, I can honestly say that this is the funniest movie that you will ever watch that contains a mangled version of the national anthem.
This movie not only showcased the talent of the actors and the cleverness of the scriptwriters, it showed how absolutely incompetent TV executives could be! It still baffles me to this day why the TV series was canceled.
If you have not checked these movies out, what’s wrong with you?!? Seriously, they are all good flicks that show that you can make a good movie out of a TV series.