Television series as films
Can television series make good films even after they've had their run on television? Are the two mediums compatible? Is television actually running ahead of the cinema and producing higher quality content that doesn't need a film adaptation?
These are the questions that started spinning around my head when I was thinking about The Green Hornet TV series finally coming to the big screen. I started to list films that have come from television series and surprised myself about how many good ones there have been, but is it all good? Well, quite frankly, no.
So what series have already made it to film and have worked? Well a few leapt out at me instantly. Mission Impossible, Serenity, Star Trek and X-Files are ones that I think have worked, but why did they?
Looking closely it seems that there are different reasons for each, obviously for the successful ones the story and filmmaking were huge factors, but what about the series helped it along?
Mission Impossible was a total reworking and modernisation of the series, relying on big budget, names and effects.
Serenity had two things going for it, it had a cult following, it was killed in its prime as a series and left the audience wanting more, and used the original cast.
Star Trek was something similar on the Serenity model of success. That series had a cult following and was slashed. It had a much, much smaller cult following, but as it grew over the years the desire for a big screen outing grew, and with the original crew on board for quite a few films, the success built.
X-Files is an interesting one because it's a series that did run and run, and yet the film did quite well. I think I'm right in saying that a lot of this was down to the cult following and the fact that the series had moved on from the original cast who then returned to the film. Also, in my mind anyway, the film looked back to the central core of the series and drew fans interest back to the focus that drew them there originally, the promise of an explanation.
So those are ones that have worked, but equally there are ones that have failed.
The Avengers anyone? Why didn't that work? Was that purely down to story and filmmaking? Could it actually have worked and made something strong? I'm not sure because it was so heavily rooted in the sixties.
What about the recent film outing for The Simpsons? Some say that this has been a disaster and some would say otherwise. Either way the word I'm hearing from friends is that stretching a half hour show this far just isn't working.
What other series are there out there that have worked or failed and why? Is there something we can gleam from these as to which can actually produce strong films?
Once we have the idea then you can look to some of the new films coming from series, some of those rumoured and not yet here. There's the Green Hornet of course, but further away are 24 and Lost films, both of which I think are destined to fail.
Throughout this I think it's clear that the most successful turns have been through series that have not met their potential on the small screen, just like Star Trek and Serenity, series that have started well but not covered all their ground.
To apply a couple of examples to that of series that aren't liable to be made, James Cameron's Dark Angel or the recent BBC series Jekyll would make great series, but J.J. Abrams Alias would not, purely because one has fully explored the storylines and universe and the other two have not. Despite all three having great storylines to explore, Jekyll was a very short series that was left very open, and Dark Angel followed that cult model that was cut short in its prime.
Looking at films for Lost and 24, I just can't see them bringing something new to an audience who has seen their whole story played out in their living room series after series.
So what series can you think that have worked as films, or have failed? Is it perhaps that newer TV series are producing far higher quality and storylines than the film counterparts? Do they have more freedom than the few hours in the cinema, or is it the higher budgets, or is it just that there's much more talent in television these days?
What series do you think have been criminally overlooked for a film version and what deserves to have the Hollywood treatment?