From the Big Screen to the Small Screen: TV Series Inspired By Movies

Given that NBC’s new series, “Parenthood,” was inspired by the 1989 Ron Howard film of the same name, it was hard to resist the opportunity to take a look back at some other programs which originated on the silver screen. Obviously, Hollywood has never been afraid to recycle its properties – because, y’know, it’s just so much easier – but when you’ve got a good (and familiar) premise and you’ve got writers who know how to build on it, then why not take advantage of it? Not every film deserves to be turned into a television series, a fact which is borne out by this list of 15 such shows that never got past the pilot stage (and sometimes it worked just as badly in reverse, as you can see here), but looking back on the television landscape and seeing what classic series have emerged as a result, it’s hard to complain.

First up, a list of our 20 favorite series inspired by movies. You’ll likely disagree with some of our choices, but…well, frankly, you always disagree with some of our choices, and we’ve learned to live with that.

1. The Odd Couple (ABC, 1970 – 1975): Yeah, we know it’s technically a TV series inspired by a play, but it never would’ve been made if the movie version hadn’t been a success first. Believe it or not, Tony Randall actually wanted Mickey Rooney to play the Oscar Madison to his Felix Unger, due to the success they’d had together when they played the roles together on Broadway, but the series’ executive producer, Garry Marshall, fought for Jack Klugman and won.

Nice one, Garry: the chemistry between Randall as the fastidious Felix and Klugman as the slovenly Oscar proved so strong that it’s now hard to imagine anyone else playing either role. They also each won Emmy awards for their performances: Klugman won twice – in ’71 and ’73 – and Randall won in ’75, observing in his speech how he wished he had a job. (The show had since been canceled!)

Looking back at “The Odd Couple,” you may notice that the first season of the series looks notably different from the four seasons that followed. That’s because the decision was made to switch from single-camera to multi-camera, thereby giving the cast the opportunity to perform the show in front of a studio audience…not unlike a play, appropriately enough. No matter what season you happen upon, however, it’s still a TV classic. Sometimes it’s because of the guest stars (Oscar’s career as a sportswriter led to many an athlete being worked into the proceedings), sometimes it’s because of the situations the guys find themselves in (I’m thinking in particular of when Oscar invited Felix to be his partner on an episode of “Password”), but no matter what the scenario, it’s Randall and Klugman who bring home the laughs…so much so that, when you mention “The Odd Couple,” you immediately think of those two guys over Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Now that’s what I call a successful movie-to-TV adaptation!

2. M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972 – 1983): In the grand scheme of TV shows made from feature films, surely there’s none more commercially and artistically successful than “M*A*S*H.” Based on the 1970 Robert Altman film of the same name (which in turn was based on the book by Richard Hooker), it was an unlikely candidate for a hit series, and yet that’s exactly what it ended up being. Both movie and TV show showcased the frustrations of the Vietnam War through the lens of a group of Army medics operating during the Korean War (or conflict, depending on to whom you talk). Even though the series’ highpoint was the first three seasons, which displayed a far more madcap, almost anarchic vibe, the TV-viewing public couldn’t get enough. The show, enduring numerous cast changes along the way, ran for a whopping 11 seasons, effectively lasting four times as long as the Korean War itself. The series finale in February of ‘83 was, until recently, the most watched TV event in U.S. history, but Super Bowl XLIV came along and smashed that record. – Ross Ruediger

3. Alice (CBS, 1976 – 1985): If ever there was an oddball movie on which to base a TV show, 1974’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” directed by Martin Scorsese, was that movie. The relatively straightforward dramatic piece about a widowed mother of one struggling to make her way in the world was reimagined as a half-hour sitcom. By all counts, this series shouldn’t have made it past one season, and yet it lasted a mind-boggling nine years. Well, it’s really only mind-boggling to someone who hasn’t seen the show, because anyone who has, likely understands this sitcom’s place in TV history. Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin), who in the series is divorced rather than widowed, travels across country with her son Tommy, seeking fame and fortune on L.A. as a singer, when her car breaks down in Phoenix. She’s forced to take a job at a local greasy spoon called Mel’s Diner owned by Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback, reprising his role from the film). There she finds friendship and zany antics amongst Mel’s employees and clientele. “Alice” was an ideal blue-collar premise for ‘70s TV viewers, particularly women, many of whom understood Alice all too well. The show also brought the catchphrase “Kiss my grits!” (thank you, Polly Holiday) to the table and its possible TV hasn’t recovered since. – Ross Ruediger

4. Logan’s Run (CBS, 1977 – 1978): It’s probably a little easier to buy into the idea of a “Logan’s Run” TV series when you realize that the author of the novel that inspired the film – William F. Nolan – actually wrote two sequel novels (“Logan’s World” and “Logan’s Search”) as well as a novelette (“Logan’s Return”), but as it happens, the series stands completely apart from Nolan’s written word. Starring Gregory Harrison as Logan, Heather Menzies as Jessica, and Donald Moffat as an android named REM, “Logan’s Run” sent its characters across post-apocalyptic America by hovercraft on a voyage to find Sanctuary. Given the era, the show was a relatively solid bit of sci-fi, thanks in no small part to having former “Star Trek” writer D.C. Fontana serving as the show’s story editor, but in a rather obnoxious move, Warner Brothers has released the complete series of “Logan’s Run” as iTunes downloads without making it available for purchase in a hard-copy form. Fingers crossed that the folks at Warner Archive will read this and take heed. Better to get a glorified DVD-R version that’s authorized and somewhat cleaned up than a crappy bootleg version.

5. The Paper Chase (CBS, 1978 – 1979 / Showtime, 1984 – 1986): James Bridges’ 1973 film version of John J. Osborn’s novel turned producer John Houseman, a film and theater legend but an unknown to the general public, into an Oscar-winning movie star at age 71. Later, Bridges, Osborn, and Houseman brought “The Paper Chase” to television with likable James Stephens starring as earnest law-student James Hart who, week by week, struggled with the enigmatic method and deep mind-games of the unapproachable Prof. Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr. The idea of a show about extremely intelligent young people learning how to think and reason at a high level was a novelty in 1978 — not that it’s commonplace today — and it was canceled after one season. However, such was the affection for the series that the show was successfully rerun on PBS. That led to a TV first: “The Paper Chase” went back into production in 1983 for premium cable’s Showtime with author Osborn’s involvement as well as most, but not all, of the initial cast. Not that anyone seemed to noticed: with Stephens and the charismatic, coldly witty Houseman on board, by the time Hart finally graduated, many viewers had no idea there had ever been a movie. – Bob Westal

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Shawne Merriman Interview

Shawne Merriman recently chatted with our NFL guru Anthony Stalter of The Scores Report.

Here’s a small taste of the interview:

…on his prediction for himself heading into the 2010 season:

Shawne Merriman: We’ll see, because I want to have a fully healthy offseason. You have to remember that before the season started I was only eight or nine months out of reconstructive surgery so everything was a slow process to get back into it and getting back right again. I’m healthy and strong and feeling better than I ever have. So, I’m excited to see what the season will hold and how everything is going to play out.

Read the full interview at The Scores Report.

  

Win a trip to Peru!

Our friends from Liquor.com have a great new contest that we’re promoting to our Bullz-Eye readers. You can enter for a chance to win a spectacular trip to Peru. You and a guest will spend an unforgettable week hiking the epic Inca Trail, ending at the historic site Machu Picchu. Check out the details and try your luck! Also, check out the other contests and giveaways on our Contests page.

  

Mike Barkacs reviews a real Pilsner

Sam Adams finally comes through with its Noble Pils, and that makes Mike very happy.

Although they are now this close to being a full fledged macro brewer (if they aren’t already – it’s just semantics), Sam Adams continues to put out quality beer. They have successfully proven that it is not necessary to dumb down the flavors to win over American beer drinkers. They have also filled a niche by brewing true-to-style beers that aren’t so insecure that they need to go horribly over the top like so many of today’s micros. Their new seasonal, Noble Pils, is a great addition to their lineup, a style that is absurdly nearly ignored on these shores.

As you’ll hear from any Czech, real pilsners are nothing like the ones that call themselves that in the States. It’s not just the water, either. A Budweiser is to a pilsner as the Geiko lizard is to a dragon. Except real pilsners do exist – somewhere. The Sam Adams is a true pilsner. I’ve had fresh-from-the-source pilsners in Prague that were no better. And, even when you can find them here, it’s next to impossible to find a fresh one. Freshness is vital to a good pilsner. They aren’t meant to age on dusty import shelves, like some ales can.

Check out the rest of the review for Mike’s full take.

  

Last-minute shopping for Valentine’s Day

valentine's day heart woman

If you’re in a relationship, you’re probably aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your feelings about this holiday, you can’t ignore it.

We updated our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide last week, and now we’re reminding all the procrastinators out there who always wait till the last minute. Fortunately, you can still benefit from Shelly’s advice in the guide.

Whatever you do, it is going to send a signal. You may not know that you are sending it but your gift will be scrutinized like the post mortem victim of a violent crime; not only by your girl but, believe me, by every one of her friends and co-workers, family and potentially, that ex who may be waiting for a second chance!

And the media/marketing machine doesn’t help, either. It seems as though every year; this pseudo-holiday gets bigger and the expectations are raised to insurmountable heights. Whatever it is that you give her will set the tone for your relationship for the rest of the year. This gift you will give to your little Sherlock Holmes offers the clues she needs to define your feelings for her; whether or not you are serious; see her as wife material; think she is fat; aren’t that into her, and on and on in ways which you could never imagine.

Check it out and you’ll get some good ideas. This isn’t rocket science – you just need to put a little thought into it, and we’re here to help.

Now, for those of you who aren’t in a relationship, you don’t have to worry about all this stuff, but this is also an ideal time to get out there and connect with a woman who’s available. Naturally, most women hate being alone on Valentine’s Day, so you’ll find that many of them will be more open to a guy’s advances during this time of year. So, it’s time to brush up on your game and get out there! Check out our dating tips page for great advice from David DeAngelo, and check out the sites listed on our online dating page for websites you can start using. Happy hunting!

  

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