Unnecessary Liaisons: 15 TV Couplings That Never Should Have Happened

The “will they or won’t they?” dynamic has been a staple of television since the very beginning of the medium, but just because two people can get together doesn’t mean that they should get together. Bullz-Eye decided to take a look back through our favorite TV series and consider some of the more ill-begotten romances that have taken place over the years. Have we missed any? Or do you disagree with some of our selections? Let us know in the comments!

1. Rachel & Joey, “Friends”

Given that just about everyone has had a crush on a friend at some point in their lives, it made sense that a show called “Friends” would make use of that concept, and in addition to the long-running “will they or won’t they” of the Ross and Rachel relationship, Monica and Chandler proved to be a surprisingly effective combination as well. But Rachel and Joey…? That’s just taking things a step too far.

Actually, the two never took their relationship to the toppermost of the poppermost, if you will, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The storyline began with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) suffering through a major crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), one which she ultimately decided was worth risking their friendship to expand into something more. When they tried to get down and dirty, however, Rachel kept finding herself instinctually slapping Joey’s hands back, and Joey found that he’d lost his gift for unstrapping bras. Attempts to loosen each other up with champagne failed just as miserably, and in the end, the two decided that the problem was that they’d become better friends over the years than Monica and Chandler were when they became a couple.

Some have questioned whether the awkwardness between Aniston and LeBlanc during their romantic scenes was behind the decision to stop the Rachel / Joey relationship dead in its tracks, but let’s chalk that up to acting, as it seems far more likely that the writers just wanted to have a bit of fun with the characters. But thank God the fun ended when it did. – Will Harris

2. Ray & Jenna, “Dallas”

“Dallas” is a series overflowing with mismatched couples and people who are just altogether wrong for each other. As it’s a soap opera, that sort of stuff goes with the territory. So it of course stands to reason that the “Dallas” coupling ending up on this list is actually rather harmonious, all things considered, anyway. Farm hand and rancher Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) hooking up with and marrying little miss screw loose Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley)? Gimme a break.

Jenna had a nearly lifelong attachment to Ray’s brother, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), which mercifully crumbled – mercifully, I say, because this woman was batshit crazy. Given the sheer hell Bobby went through with her – nearly all of which Ray was witness to – it made no sense after his marriage to the rock that was Donna (Susan Howard) ended, that he would fall into the arms of this emotional basket case. Worst of all though is how the couple was eventually written off the series: They moved to Europe. Ray Krebbs leaving Texas to move to Europe is a piece of off-screen character development that has to boggle the mind of even the most forgiving “Dallas” aficionado. Ray Krebbs was Texas.

Man, I hope he at least found a flock of sheep to keep him busy on those cold European winter nights, because one thing’s for certain, that nutty woman had to have had another breakdown, probably near the border of France and Germany. – Ross Ruediger

3. Sayid & Shannon, “Lost”

For a show that prided itself on great characters and the various relationships they forged during their time on the island, “Lost” still had its share of questionable partnerships, especially of the romantic variety. But while we were never big fans of the ongoing love triangle between Jack, Kate and Sawyer, the relationship that rang the most untrue was undoubtedly Sayid and Shannon.

Though it might have made sense on paper – Shannon needed someone to fill the protector role after Boone was killed, and there wasn’t a better candidate (no pun intended) around than Sayid – the whole romance came out of left field, forcing the audience to blindly accept that they had fallen in love within a matter of days. Thankfully, it didn’t last long, as Shannon was the next major castaway to bite the dust when Ana Lucia accidentally shot her. But it wasn’t the last we saw of the couple, as they were reunited in the season finale to spend eternity together in the afterlife.

It was a revelation that threw most viewers for a loop. After all, wasn’t Sayid’s one true love supposed to be Nadia? Then why did he end up with the blonde bimbo? It certainly left a sour taste in our mouths – one that not even a cold Dharma beer could cure. – Jason Zingale

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What’s my name, bitch? Twenty great movie titles

The press release came in early November. In it were four words that came together for the first time like a cinematic Reese’s peanut butter cup of awesomeness. We were powerless to resist, not that we would have tried. The four words:

“Hot Tub Time Machine.”

Bar none the best movie title to come down the pike in years (and hot on its heels is the equally awesomely named “Kick-Ass”), and it had us thinking about what we consider to be the all-time best movie titles. But first, we had to set some ground rules. Porno titles were obviously out (too easy), as were movies named after plays, songs, books or lines of poetry (borrowed material). Bonus points were given to titles that were either startlingly direct or looked like unfinished Mad Libs, thus provoking a reaction along the lines of Lisa Simpson when she saw “Yahoo Serious Film Festival” on a marquee (“I know those words, but that sign makes no sense.”) Horror movie titles were so plentiful that they received their own list, though a few choice selections made the regular list. Lastly, we feel compelled to remind everyone that this list was made purely for fun, so legitimately good titles – “Alien,” “Fight Club,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Drag Me to Hell,” “Kill Bill” – were disqualified. Because really, how boring would that list be? Answer: very.

And so, without further delay, here’s our list. Discuss, debate and dissect amongst yourselves.

best_movie_titles

20. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)
Because, you know, a simple battle between a shark and an octopus is on Discovery Channel twice a week. But a mega-shark and a giant octopus, that would be…well, craptacular, actually. And that is why we love the title; It’s eye-catching, but for all the wrong reasons. You want to give it credit for self-awareness – this is, after all, a movie that features a shark taking a plane out of the sky, thousands of feet off the ground – but perhaps that is giving the movie a bit too much credit. Still, there was a point where it was the most viewed trailer on the web, so the filmmakers clearly knew what they were doing when they came up with the title. Or maybe it was the irresistible allure of one Miss Deborah Gibson, one of the two.

19. The Brother From Another Planet (1984)
Using “brother” in this context was relegated solely to the exploitation genre until John Sayles wrote and directed this movie about a mute alien being chased by alien bounty hunters. It may seem harmless now, but it was downright ballsy at the time, even for an independent movie. And we totally have to learn the card trick done by the guy on the subway.

18. The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Come on, who doesn’t want to ride that? Oh, right: everyone.

The thing is, this tale of a photographer who uncovers a subway serial killer is a pretty damn good movie. (And look at that cast: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Roger Bart and Vinnie Jones, to name a few.) But that title was apparently too much for some to handle, to the point where after several release date changes, the movie finally surfaces in the dog days of August, making its first run…in second-run movie theaters. It goes down as another box office miss for Clive Barker, but this is easily the best Barker-related movie since “Candyman.” And you’d be hard pressed to come up with a more descriptive yet grossly unappealing title than that one.

17. Shoot ‘em Up (2007)
Sounds like an unholy straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal schlockfest, yes? (Though the preposition is in the wrong place, since Seagal’s movies usually begin with one.) Yes, and then you see Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti are the leads, and Nigel Tufnel’s line about the fine line between clever and stupid comes to mind. “Shoot ‘em Up” perfectly encapsulates what the movie is all about, while underselling it at the same time. “Leave your expectations at the door,” it says, so we did, and walked out grinning from ear to ear. And did we mention the lactating hooker?

16. Spanking the Monkey (1994)
Sexual Euphamism Movie Title #1. Hey, we’re dudes. Even though we like high-brow humor, we’re dudes.

Still, don’t let that title fool you. Yes, there is masturbation going on here, but this isn’t some “American Pie”-type sex comedy. It’s a disturbing black comedy where Jeremy Davies ends up having sex with his mother. Oh, that nutty David O. Russell. Only he could find the humor in incest.

15. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
You’d be hard pressed to come up with a name as pre-packaged with stereotypes as Buffy. Girls named Buffy are rich, spoiled, not terribly bright, and most likely blonde. (It goes without saying that they’re also white.) What they’re not are vampire slayers, thus making a perfect title for a movie about the textbook definition of reluctant hero. While the TV adaptation clearly surpasses the theatrical release, we still have a soft spot for the movie, due in large part to Paul Reubens’ spectacular death scene.

14. Mars Needs Women (1967)
The movie itself may have been a stock footage fiasco – hey, what do you want, it was made for TV for the price of a ham sandwich – and they made a fatal mistake by taking the subject matter seriously, but that title will live forever, making a memorable cameo in the song “Pump the Volume” and inspiring a level to one of our favorite video games, “Zombies Ate My Neighbors.”

13. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
Had they simply named it “Death Bed,” people might mistake the movie for a stirring drama about someone who’s about to meet his maker. But since this movie is about a demonic bed that feeds on human flesh (you read that right), the filmmakers decided to add a little something extra to clear up the air. Not wasting too much thought on the matter, they went with “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats” – “The Bed That Eats” – and boom, a cult legend was born. Credit where credit is due: Patton Oswalt tipped us off to this one. The clips of the movie on YouTube are even funnier than we thought they’d be. Seriously, who plays poker on a bed? Dead people, apparently.

12. Frankenhooker (1990)
Granted, every word is funnier when combined with ‘hooker.’ See, watch: Robohooker. Cyberhooker. Psychohooker. Amish hooker. But nothing trumps “Frankenhooker” on the ‘funny prostitute’ scale. And admit it: you’d risk the itch for a shot at that, wouldn’t you? One woman assembled from several other women to form a, um, dream hooker? (And played by a former Penthouse Pet, no less.) Well, all right, maybe we wouldn’t actually risk the itch…but we’d think about it. Sex with a sex-crazed monster: hey, could be fun. Lord knows there are worse ways to die.

11. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
Its title has inspired a metal band and a techno song (Brittany Murphy, R.I.P.), and Quentin Tarantino wants to remake it, though one could argue that he already has with “Death Proof.” But here’s our question: do people love the movie because it features a group of tough-as-nails strippers, or do they love it because it’s called “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”? Had it been named something else, something tamer, like “Stripper Girls on the Loose,” would it have the same cult status today? We doubt it, which is why this movie, more than any other, shows the importance of a great title.

10. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
By stealing the title from George Romero’s game-changing 1978 horror film, but changing that one word, “Shaun of the Dead” sets the tone perfectly. You know the source material (zombies), and the sense of humor (bone-dry). If you’re still unsure what to expect then, as comedian Jeff Marder once said, pull the plug, because you’re just taking up space.

9. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)
One is a black man named Tucker who drinks on the job and harasses nuns for fun. One is a disgraced cop who sold cocaine to school children. And one of them has big tits. We’ll let you figure out who’s who.

This movie about a rag tag group of ambulance drivers and EMT specialists also includes the potential rape of an unconscious college student and a junkie murder-suicide (Toni Basil!) …and it’s a comedy. A comedy called “Mother, Jugs & Speed.” At one point, Bill Cosby (yep, he’s Mother) gets a massage from a woman using a dildo. If you want to know why people are nostalgic for the ’70s, this movie sums it up in one word: swagger.

8. Vampiros Lesbos (1971)
It was so cute that the producers of the 2009 straight-to-DVD movie “Lesbian Vampire Killers” thought they were pushing something edgy . We’re guessing they didn’t know that a German film beat them to the punch by nearly 40 years. Exploring erotic horror at a time when the genre barely existed, this tale of an American lawyer lured to an island for business, only to discover that her client is, yep, a lesbian vampire, has a rabid cult following, as does its psycho-lounge soundtrack, which Quentin Tarantino lifted for use in “Jackie Brown.” There’s just something about the foreign translation of “lesbian vampire” that classes up the joint.

7. Slap Her…She’s French (2002)
Just about every ethnic group has someone representing them when it comes to matters of unfair portrayal in the media, cultural insensitivity, etc. But call someone a frog, and no one bats an eye. Those poor French are still getting kicked around like it’s 1965, and this title sums that up as well as anything. The conversation writes itself: “Did she do anything wrong, or hurtful?” “No, but she’s French, damn it. Do you need another reason to slap her?” Apparently, though, the TV censors did need another reason to slap her, because the movie runs on the tube under the nondescriptive name “She Gets What She Wants.” Blech.

As for the movie itself, yes, the title is the best thing about it, but this tale of a Texas alpha female whose life is turned upside-down by a foreign exchange student has its moments, notably when Starla (Jane McGregor) is dragged away from a confrontation with Genevieve (Piper Perabo), screaming, “I’m going to get you, Kermit! You’re going down!” Heh heh, Kermit. Frog jokes: the slur that will not die.

6. Boss Nigger (1975)
This should be disqualified on a technicality since blacksploitation movies by nature have humorous, ‘fuck you Hollywood’ titles. But “Boss Nigger” makes the cut because it would be lucky to see the light of day in today’s climate as a working title, never mind an official one. (See: “Cop Out,” which was known as “A Couple of Dicks” during production.) Indeed, when the movie was issued on DVD in 2008, it was simply titled “Boss,” and writer/producer/star Fred Williamson is surely having a laugh at the knee-jerk reaction the title elicits today, since that was the point all along.

5. Young People Fucking (2007)
Any questions?

4. Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)
Talk about a movie casting itself. “It’s called ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ Go get Stifler and Kelso. No need to call anyone else.” In retrospect, the movie is like a beta test version of “The Hangover”; the two leads wake up with no memory of the previous night’s events, though the path of destruction they left in their wake soon comes back to haunt them. Only this one has twins…who don’t look remotely alike. The movie was admittedly dumb but not without its charms, and while it didn’t deserve a sequel, we were pushing for one anyway, since the only thing better than a movie called “Dude, Where’s My Car?” is a movie called “Seriously, Dude, Where’s My Car?”

3. Donkey Punch (2008)
Sexual Euphamism Movie Title #2 If you’re not familiar with the expression ‘donkey punch’…good for you. That means you’re a testament to clean living, and we could all learn from your example. Now, if you would like to know what it means, go here. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Pretty vile, isn’t it? To quote one of our favorite “Futurama” episodes, you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it.

Truth be told, we still haven’t seen this UK horror import, but the filmmakers get our undying respect for having the nerve to not only write a movie around a fun night of sexcapades gone horribly wrong after a guy kills a girl while executing the move in question, but also naming their movie after it. The title is both perfectly clean and utterly depraved. That’s a pretty impressive trick, by any standard.

2. Snakes on a Plane (2006)
In an industry with an irrational love for vague, meaningless titles like “Edge of Darkness,” “Deception” and “The Happening,” the directness of “Snakes on a Plane” was nothing short of revelatory. It doesn’t get more ‘are you in or out?’ than that, and to think, the producers briefly toyed with the idea of changing the title to “Pacific Flight 121.” What the hell is that movie about? No idea, but “Snakes on a Plane” is about motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane, you dig?

Of course, as we all know, the end result did not meet the ridiculously high expectations of the movie’s rabid online following – well, it actually did meet their expectations; it just didn’t meet anyone else’s – and “Snakes,” despite a huge push from Entertainment Weekly and your friends at Bullz-Eye, barely managed to make its money back. The studio will probably say that the title failed them, but our finger is pointed squarely at New Line’s marketing department, who apparently thought the Internet would market the movie on their behalf and did nothing to increase the name recognition. Sorry, guys, but even movies with awesome titles need promotion, too.

1. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)
Bow down before your robo-popping, ceiling-dancing overlords, bitches.

Deciding to do a sequel is easy; naming it, not so much. (Ahem, “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.”) ‘This’ becomes ‘That,’ singular becomes plural, and the words ‘Another,’ ‘Return’ and ‘Next’ are lazily inserted, along with the inevitable Roman numerals. Now look at what the producers of “Breakin’” did after their low-budget dance flick became a left-field hit and there was demand for a sequel: they used a predictable ’2,’ then followed it with “Electric Boogaloo.” Electric, fucking, boogaloo. The result of having balls of steel, or the last-minute inspiration that comes with a suitcase full of cocaine? Doesn’t matter, really; over time, the title has gone from ‘WTF’ laughingstock to holding a permanent place in the pop culture lexicon as the ultimate sequel title in movie history.

Great Titles: Horror Division
This list could literally go on for days, but there were a few that missed the main list that deserved a mention.

Motel Hell
Dead Alive
I Spit on Your Grave
Splatter Farm
Chopping Mall
Sssssss
I Dismember Mama
Terror Firma
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
Sharks in Venice
Werewolves on Wheels
Vampires on Bikini Beach

Marquee Busters
Remember when there were guys responsible for changing the letters on the marquee outside the theaters? They hated these movies.

The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (Thankfully, this one was made for HBO.)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Bad
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?

  

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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