Taking great (and even not-so-great) movies and reworking them into TV shows isn’t a new trend, but it’s one which seems to be coming back into popularity, after a dodgy history.
On the plus side we’ve had small screen classics such as M*A*S*H, The Odd Couple and, one of my all-time favourite shows, Friday Night Lights. Texas forever.
On the other end of the spectrum we had Highlander: The Series, Highlander: The Raven and Highlander: The Animated Series.
When you start to dive into it, it’s hard to believe just how many television adaptations there have been of movies. Who could forget such classics as the TV versions of Casblanca, Starman, Timecop and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels?
Not to mention my personal favourite: Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, a 1980s animated Rambo series for kids, only with less Viet Cong killing and PTSD than its source material.
Even with its spotty past, adapting movies for TV is back with a vengeance, and, I dare say, it’s mostly a good thing.
Fargo, the Coen Brothers 1996 film, is now a TV series of the same name and so far, so good. It has the same dark, quirky tone which made the movie so captivating but is also doing a good job of making its own way. Martin Freeman makes for a decent William H. Macy (which let’s face it, he is) and Billy Bob Thornton hasn’t been this captivating in years.
I’ve recently been catching up with Bates Motel, which, confusingly, is a modern-day-set prequel to the events of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 slasher classic Psycho. It’s a little hokey at times (it’s on A&E after all) but I’m enjoying it as good, cheap fun. Vera Farmiga is excellent as always, and I get a little thrill every time I see Horseshoe Bay as a location (“They’re eating in Troll’s!”).
People also be loving Hannibal, of course based on the famous cannibal from the Thomas Harris novels, but also the films based on them, particularly Red Dragon and Manhunter.
I’ve only had time to watch the pilot of From Dusk to Dawn and I wasn’t too impressed. It seemed gritty and crazy, much like the film, but the idea of following a rapist as a main character isn’t overly appealing to me.
In general, TV has become quite cinematic by nature and more actors are spending their careers jumping back and forth between the two, so it’s no surprise more stories are being shared and being shared generally well. And I dare say these TV shows often take more care capturing the spirit of their source material than most of the sequels, prequels and reboots we see on the big screen these days.
I for one welcome the trend.