At the Edinburgh TV Festival, Neil Cross, the writer and creator of the popular BBC crime drama Luther, said that he is working on a screenplay for a film prequel to Luther. Idris Elba would return along with Warren Brown, Indira Varma, and Steve Mackintosh and the film would focus on Luther’s relationship with his wife Zoe, ending when the TV show begins. Some shows like Firefly, The X-Files, and Sex and the City have had films that continue the series’ storyline, but film prequels of TV series are a relatively new concept. There’s a lot of potential with this idea and it could breathe new life in the recently overused genre of the prequel film. With the larger budget and scale of film, these could serve nicely to counterpoint TV’s strengths as long-form storytelling. Here are four series that could benefit from a Luther-style prequel film.
The most important event in the 900+ year history of the Doctor is the Time War. Various episodes have hinted at it, like 2007’s “The End of Time”, but the conflict hasn’t been depicted on TV. This is probably due to budget restraints and the gravity of the story in which the Doctor wipes out both the Timelords and the Daleks. However, a feature film would solve this budget problem and bring more prestige to the cult British TV show that is becoming popular in the United States as well. The film could also answer many nagging questions that Doctor Who fans have asked for years, including the big one- What drove the now pacifist Doctor to wipe out his entire race? The biggest problem is casting the Doctor. They could get fan-favorite David Tennant to return, or even Christopher Eccleston, as the 9th Doctor suffered the most from the Time War. However, the best option is to get a respected actor to play the Time War Doctor, like John Hurt is rumored to be doing in the 50th Anniversary Special that may touch on the Time War.
Thousands of pages have been written about the history of Westeros in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Sadly, the TV show can’t show all this back history because of time and budget restraints. A prequel series could explore many different time periods, from the adventures of Aegon Targaryen and Duncan the Tall described in the Dunk and Egg novellas to Aegon’s conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. However, because the majority of its main players appeared or still appear in the current Game of Thrones show, a prequel film of Robert’s Rebellion would be the best route. The film could explore Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon’s relationship in greater depth and have more epic battle scenes than the TV show. A film version of the Storm’s End siege, for example, would be breathtaking.
There has already been a Young Sherlock Holmes film, but it would be fun to put Benedict Cumberbatch in de-aging makeup and have him solve his first cases. The film doesn’t have to be anything special, only requiring a riveting mystery and a good character arc for Sherlock. It could also explain why he has a strained relationship with his brother Mycroft and the origins of some of his eccentricities, perhaps shown through an extended childhood flashback. Sherlock, one can imagine, must have been an entertaining and difficult child to raise. Even though there have been two recent Sherlock Holmes films, this would be vastly different from those by Guy Ritchie and it would have the rabid Sherlock fanbase behind it.
Despite its stereotypes and lack of character development, The Big Bang Theory is usually good for a few laughs each episode. Even though the four main cast members are from very different states and backgrounds, it would be fun to see them in high school or college. There could be a running commentary on nerd events of the past (I for one would love to see their reactions to Phantom Menace, Firefly, and the various Marvel and DC comics events). With a longer running time and liberation from the three camera setup, the film could explore the characters’ strengths and foibles in greater depth. The TV show is still a ratings hit after six seasons and this could make it a box office hit as well.