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|Rant Magazine's David Hopson examines the incestuous relationship between Hollywood and TV
|by David "DarkHorse" Hopson
How many movies do you think have ever been based on television shows? Let me assure you, there are tons of them spanning a few decades. Just when I thought the Mod Squad (1999) had put the finishing move on the genre, Charlie's Angels (2000) comes out and gives it new life. In the next couple of years you can look forward to movie versions of The A-Team (1983-87), S.W.A.T. (1975-76) and I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), so don't count on this trend ending anytime soon. I figure in about 20 years "Cheers: The Movie" will hit the big screen.
But don't blame Hollywood.
TV shows have been ripping off movies for years. We all know Charlie's Angels was based on a kitschy show in the late seventies, but did you know that What's Happening and Alice were actually based on movies?
There’s been so much crossbreeding throughout every form of media for so long that it now seems trivial to bitch at the movie industry for borrowing concepts from TV shows. Blondie was a very popular movie series in the 30's and it was based on a comic strip. The Phantom (1996) was also based on a classic comic strip. Novels have been based on movies (Star Wars) and TV shows (Star Trek.) Video games have spawned movies and movies have spawned video games. There are movies based on cartoons, cartoons based on movies, cartoons based on video games, video games based on cartoons, comic books based on movies, movies based on comic books.... whew....
Ok... It is becoming clear that I can't cover all the bases in one sitting. Instead, I'm making this feature into a trilogy. Kind of like Star Wars.... shit, I left out Episode 1.... well, you get the point. This episode is entitled:
Cross-OverKill part 1:
TV EATS THE MOVIES....
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63): The movie was The Many Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953). Maynard did not appear in the original movie. It is bizarre in the fact that Bob Denver really doesn't suck throughout the series as Maynard G. Krebs. I swear Shaggy in Scooby Doo was based on this guy and I guarantee you that Maynard would be a stoner if he were alive today. Unfortunately he was put to death after savagely decapitating his pal Dobie in the taut and brutal suspense thriller, Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988). It set new standards of violence for television and is banned in all countries except Portugal to this day.
The Paper Chase (1978): The movie came out in 1973 and John Houseman was the only actor to return when it became a series. The original had Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner, who went on to fame three years later as The Bionic Woman and then politely faded into obscurity.
The Odd Couple (1970-75): Based on a movie that was based on a Neil Simon play. The Odd Couple is one of my favorite movies of all time. Walter Matthau plays the slob, Oscar Madison, and Jack Lemmon plays the neat freak, Felix Unger. Jack Klugman, (Quincy 1976-83) and Tony Randall (The Tony Randall Show 1976-78) took over the roles of Oscar and Felix in the series. It was actually pretty entertaining and it proved popular enough to spawn a reunion (The Odd Couple: Together Again 1993). The original movie also spawned a sequel in 1998, but it was more like "Grumpiest Old Men" after seeing Lemmon and Matthau together for the hundredth time.
Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1965-67): The original had Doris Day and David Niven. Doris got to sing the title song and bounce around spreading her insanely happy vibes. The series is a big steaming pile of lighthearted fluff that aired for a couple of years. Worse than watching 12 episodes of Leave it to Beaver in succession.
Battlestar Galactica (1978-79): Lorne Greene reprised his role from Bonanza (1959-73), only his name wasn’t Ben Cartwright and this time around he was the commander of a spaceship. Sadly, Hoss and Little Joe were nowhere to be found. This one actually counts, even though it was originally a made-for-TV pilot. It was released in theaters in Canada, Japan and Europe before it was ever shown on television. ‘Battlestar’ actually beat out Grease and Jaws II in its opening week in Japan, and was only released theatrically in the U.S. after it had already become a weekly series. When they cancelled the show in 1979, fans got pissed off and wrote letters demanding it back. It was revived in the form of "Battlestar Galactica 1980", briefly, and then went into hibernation until recently. Lately there have been rumblings about a new movie but I wouldn't expect to see it anytime soon.
Alice (1976-1985): This one is based on a movie directed in 1974 by Martin Scorsese! I’m sure Scorsese got a good laugh when he saw the series. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) was the original title. Vic Tayback reprises his role from the film as the loveable asshole Mel Sharples and the original Flo (Diane Ladd) played a character on the TV series for a year named Belle Dupree. Linda Lavin had played briefly as a detective on Barney Miller (1975-82) before assuming the lead role of Alice. Ellen Burstyn played the lead role in the movie and took home an Oscar for Best Actress. I hated this fucking show with a passion. Every time Flo bellowed, "kiss my grits!" it was like finger nails scraping a chalkboard. It was a stupid show and it boggles my mind that it stayed on for 9 years. I haven't seen the movie but I'm sure it is better than this.
Happy Days (1974-84): Fonzie's character was undoubtedly inspired by the leather-jacketed role Henry Winkler played in The Lords of The Flatbush (1974) the same year. Happy Days itself was based on a segment that appeared on Love American Style (1969-74). Mork and Mindy (1978-82), Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-83) and Laverne and Shirley (1976-83) were all spin-offs of Happy Days. There are many similarities between Happy Days and American Graffiti (1973). Ron Howard also starred in American Graffiti and the some of the settings were almost identical.
M.A.S.H. (1972-1983): In the original you could hear the lyrics of the familiar (and slightly controversial) title song "Suicide is Painless". Elliot Gould played Trapper and Donald Sutherland was great as Hawkeye. Robert Duvall played Burns. The TV show came two years after the movie and lasted forever. It survived an incredible amount of cast changes, in major roles, and the finale (Goodbye, Farewell and Amen) was a major television event. McLean Stevenson really fucked himself when he left the show to try and build a sitcom around himself. The result was the abysmal Hello, Larry (1979-80) and there was no way he could return to M.A.S.H. since they killed his character, Colonel Blake, in a plane crash as soon as he left the show. Once Trapper (Wayne Rogers) left, the show slowly began to suck. Some of the episodes were preachy and the jokes were getting stale. The character Trapper John resurfaced in Trapper M.D. (1979-86). Gary Burghoff as "Radar" was the only actor from the original movie to join the series.
What's Happening! (1976-79): Based on a great movie called Cooley High (1975). The hit song “Its so hard to say goodbye to yesterday” by Boyz II Men was first heard in this film and was also the inspiration for the album title “Cooleyhighharmony (1993)”. The characters’ names were all changed and the dramatic element of the movie was almost completely absent in the sitcom. What's Happening was a pretty good show and its theme song is extremely cool.
In the Heat of The Night (1988-94): Caroll O'Connor did a pretty good job at playing Chief Gillespie, but his performance is nothing compared to Rod Steiger's in the original. Sidney Poitier's portrayal of Virgil Tibbs makes Harold Rollins look like a hack. When Rollins was forced to leave the show because of drug problems, the show continued without skipping a beat and shifted the focus on his wife, Althea. Never mind that Virgil's wife’s name was Valerie in the sequels to the original movie (They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!-1970 and The Organization-1971) and that he had two kids. Ray Charles did the original title song and it is also brilliant.
Here are some of the the rest (I am sure there are many more)-
·Hogan's Heroes (1965-71)-Based on Stalag 17 (1953). The television show turned the Nazis into bumbling idiots.
·Highlander (1992-97)-Based on Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander (1986)
·Friday The Thirteenth: the Series (1987-90)-Had little to do with the series except for the title. Still pretty good.
·Planet of The Apes (1974)-Based on Planet of The Apes (1968) cancelled after 13 episodes.
·Return to The Planet of The Apes (1975-76)-a cartoon version
of Planet of the Apes.
·Ferris Bueller (1990)-Based on Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
·Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-current)-Based on Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)
·Freddie’s Nightmares (1988-90)- Had Freddy (Robert Englund) from The Elm Street series.
·9 to 5 (1986-88)-Based on 9 to 5 (1982)
·Logan’s Run (1977-78)-Based on Logan’s Run (1976)
·The Client (1995-96)-Based on John Grisham's The Client (1994)
·Fame (1982-87)-Based on the movie Fame (1980), which was based on a Broadway show.
·Delta House (1979)-Based on Animal House (1978). Cancelled almost immediately.
·Private Benjamin (1981-83)-Based on Private Benjamin (1980)
·Stargate SG1 (1997-current)-Based on Stargate (1994)
·La Femme Nikita (1997-current)- Based on the movie La Femme Nikita (1990) that was also remade in the U.S. as Point of No Return (1993) starring Bridget Fonda. The spaghetti scene in the foreign version is a classic, yet in the remake it is a joke.
·Buck Rogers in The 25th Century (1979-81)- Based on a serial from the 30's originally and also made into a movie, Buck Rogers, in 1940.
Well, kids it's been fun. I'm wrapping this up with a nifty quiz and then I am out of here until next time. Feel free to make copies of this quiz to do at home with your friends and estranged lovers.
1) What were the characters’ names who replaced Captain "Trapper John" McIntire, as Hawkeye's Sidekick, and Major Frank Burns in M*A*S*H?
a) Captain Honeycutt and Colonel Potter
b) Captain Hollorin and Major Winchester
c) Major Winchester and Captain Honeycutt
d) Major Paine and Colonel Klink
e) Colonel Sanders and Captain Caveman
2) What names have been mentioned as candidates for the title role in the “I Dream of Jeannie” movie?
a) Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Geller and Charlize Theron
b) Heather Graham, Jenny McCarthy and Jennifer Anniston
c) Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz and Lisa Kudrow
d) Jenny McCarthy, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Michelle Geller
e) Christina Aguilera, McKenzie Phillips and Quenton Tarrantino
3) Who was Mel always calling a "Dingy" in Alice?
d) Keanu Reeves
4) What is the name of the main character in Highlander?
a) Duncan McCaine
b) Juan Sanchez
c) Duncan McLeod
d) Dunkin Donuts
e) Corey Feldmen
5) Before the movie or the television series, there were 3 books based on the world established in the first book, Logan's Run. Can you name the two sequels?
a) Logan’s Escape and Logan's Adventure
b) Logan’s Roadhouse and Logan's Big Score
c) Logan’s Journey and Logan's Stand
d) Logan’s World and Logan's Search
e) None of The Above
Bonus Question! (Optional)
In Happy Days, Ritchie had an older brother named Chuck who was never seen again after the first season. What is the most logical explanation for his disappearance?
a) That cocky little prick had been asking for it for years. He was closer to Fonz's age than his brother Richie and his dip-shit friends, and didn't think "The Fonz" was anything more than a pathetic adult hanging out with high school kids. One night he had the balls to make a move on Pinky Tuscadero while Fonz was in the can. Fonzie drug his ass outside and I swear to god... he pistol-whipped Chuck like Ray Liotta did to that guy in Goodfellas. Blood was fucking everywhere. They never couldn't link Fonzarelli to the crime because the police were idiots.
b) Chuck was a bad seed from the beginning. On one occasion he even set Joannie on fire. The Cunninghams tried putting him into therapy and even hired an exorcist, but nothing worked. Eventually they put him into a mental institution and told everyone he had joined they Army.
c) He played college ball and eventually was drafted by the 76ers and he changed his name to Julius "Dr. J" Irving.
d) He has always been there but you just haven't been perceptive enough to see him. Sometimes he is peeking out underneath the tablecloth while the Cunninghams eat dinner. Sometimes you can even see him in mirror reflections inside the bathroom at Arnie's restaurant.
e) I Don't Know
Bonus Question: The answer is E
I don't have a clue what happened to him. Could be the fact that he was a bland character and the writers just removed him to focus on the more popular characters. Then again, maybe piranhas ate him. How the hell should I know? I do know this though... that’s it for this installment. Until next time....
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=285
originally posted: 11/30/00 23:01:35
last updated: 12/14/00 15:53:41