The Watchers

The Watchers

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Mini-Countdowns: TV-To-Film Adaptations

Friday (27th June) sees the opening of Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie, a big-screen adaptation of the hit TV comedy show, the latest in a veritable host of films that have been made based on TV shows. 

In The Simpsons Movie, Homer states 'I can't believe we're paying to see something we get on TV for free!' The best films based on TV shows take the original premise and do something more with it, rather than just rehash the same old stuff that you can see on your telly without the expense and hassle of leaving your sofa. Unsurprisingly, there's a bit of a quality control issue. For every Star Trek: The Motion Picture, there's a Holiday On The Buses... 

So, in honour of Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie, here are five good and five not-so-good TV adaptations. 


1. Serenity (2005)

The fact that Firefly only lasted for 13 episodes before being canned is still something that sticks in the craw of a lot of Joss Whedon fans. Thankfully, Serenity did an admirable job of giving the crew a final outing. Energetic, skilfully directed and full of the usual Whedonesque quip and one-liners, it's a damn fine film and a good example of how a TV-to-cinema adaptation should work.

2. The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

One of the strengths of The Inbetweeners is its truthfulness in capturing the awkwardness of being in your late teens and all that it entails. The film continues that by transplanting the hapless foursome on a lads' holiday in Malia. Again, just like the TV show, it's screamingly funny, toe-curlingly cringeworthy and unflinchingly honest.

3. South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut (1999)

South Park has never been known for its subtlety or manners. Even on TV, it pushes the envelope when it comes to good taste and propriety. Well, in the film, the envelope is not so much pushed as viciously shoved into the long grass. The result? A profane, jaw-dropping and downright hilarious movie. 

4. In The Loop (2009)

I had some concerns that the scabrously funny and merciless political satire of The Thick Of It might be somehow tempered or diminished by a big-screen outing which transplanted the politics from London to Washington. The fear of a neutered Malcolm Tucker, hindered by having to rein in the foul-mouthed bluster, just didn't sit right. However, all those fears were allayed when I saw the finished result. Peter Capaldi's brilliant as always as the ferocious spin doctor and the insightful and bloody funny script was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

5. Dr. Who And The Daleks (1965) and Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD (1966)

Essentially augmented big-screen adaptations of the first two TV stories which featured the Doctor's nemeses- The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion Of Earth- these films capitalised on the Dalekmania of the mid-1960s and has a great central turn by Peter Cushing as an alternative version of The Doctor.


1. Bewitched (2005)

I am a big fan of Nicole Kidman and I will pretty much forgive her anything, but this woeful outing really does strain that forgiveness. It fails at the very start for trying to be too clever- an actor revives the show Bewitched and casts a real witch in the role of Samantha- but the script is uneven at best and there's zero chemistry between Will Ferrell and Kidman. Even a game supporting turn by Shirley MacLaine can't elevate this beyond dismal.

2. Thunderbirds (2004)

All you need to know about this cinematic abomination (apart from the fact that it seems that this is one of Ben Kingsley's doing-it-for-the-money roles) is that Gerry Anderson- creator of the original Thunderbirds- declared this to be 'the biggest load of crap' he had ever seen in his entire life. The only two performers who come out of this well are Sophia Myles (Lady Penelope) and Ron Cook (Parker). 

3. Sex And The City (2008) and Sex And The City 2 (2010)

Frankly, there was no need for the first Sex And The City film and even less need for the dire and slightly offensive sequel. The story was told, Carrie got her man, the other girls had their own kind of happiness. Leave it there. There was no need to drag it out again and the interminable back-and-forth of the relationships in the films is unnecessary.  

4. The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (2005)

A real disappointment. I love The League Of Gentlemen's dark and very twisted humour and there are some mordant flashes of it throughout. But again, it's at a loss by trying to be too clever- the idea of the characters of Royston Vasey breaking into the real world is an interesting one, but the conceit is taken too far. 

5. The Avengers (1998)

Oh dear God. What an awful film. As an adaptation of the 1960s spy show, it falls down badly. Some parts of it can fall under the so-bad-it's-actually-kind-of-good category, but most of it is just bad. For a further dissection of why I disliked the movie so much, you can read this article from 2012 (should you choose to).  

That's just my opinion. But there are loads and loads of films based on TV shows. If you can think of any particularly good (or particularly bad) examples, let us know in the comments below!


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