The recent trend in television of adapting films to series has teetered from carefully and creatively executed, such as FX’s Fargo, to lacklustre with poor ratings to show for it, such as the NBC miniseries Rosemary’s Baby. Although this movement has its inherent challenges to overcome, such as the view that creating a series from a film is an infringement on an original fan base, it has spawned several innovative and well done series that wouldn’t have existed if not for their film predecessors. The following are some films that I believe could make interesting television shows if handled correctly. They’re divided into three categories: “world expansion” (taking an original plot and adding scenes, such as El Rey’s From Dusk Till Dawn), “no original characters” (such as FX’s Fargo, which instead samples the general tone), and “prequel” (such as A&E’s Bates Motel).
This well loved film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is often considered to be “up to interpretation.” The series could thus begin by following Jack Torrance and his family after he has taken a job as a caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. Part way into the season, after menial work and a pressing sense of agoraphobia, along with the persuasion from murderous ghosts, Jack loses his mind and tries to kill his wife and son. It is later revealed that Jack has returned to the Overlook several times throughout history, living similar lives each instance, as though he is unstuck in time.
Although The Shining will soon have a prequel film to possibly answer some of the strange history surrounding The Overlook, I believe that a “world expansion” execution in a television series could be beneficial to fans. Why is Jack continually returning to the Overlook? Why is it that he and Delbert Grady (another man who has regularly returned to the hotel) seem to switch roles throughout their multiple timelines? Is the Overlook something more than a regular hotel?
Along with multiple pressing questions that have left fans of the film baffled for decades, there is an opportunity with a television adaptation of The Shining to bring life to the stories of the multiple ghosts that inhabit the hotel. Wouldn’t you like to know more about that creepy old woman in the tub?
American diplomat Robert Thorn and his wife Katherine lose their son at birth, and Robert secretly adopts a child whose mother died during birth at the same time, in order to save his wife from the grief. They take the bouncing baby boy, Damien, home and all is well up until his early toddler years. After several mysterious deaths surround the new family and an obsessive priest emerges to tell Robert that his son is the spawn of Satan, Robert must determine if he can eliminate the sweet round face whom he has adopted as his own.
The Omen is a film that is laden with incredibly interesting secondary and tertiary characters, but for the sake of time, the film largely surrounds Damien and Robert. Specifically, the priest character, played by Patrick Troughton (who many will remember as the second incarnation of The Doctor on Doctor Who) presents many opportunities to explore the torrent past that led him to be as neurotic, obsessive, and afraid as he is in the film.
No Original Characters
The original film follows a group of high school graduates who live in a small American town, on the night before many of them will leave for college and university. Depicting the love affairs, insecurities of youth, and fears of the future that surround these characters, American Graffiti is a sweet film with several layers, but most importantly, it has a very defined overall theme of what it means to be a young person in a small town in the sixties.
With the critically acclaimed drama Mad Men coming to an end next year, there will be a need for a series that showcases the turbulent (and stylish) era of the sixties. Because the characters in the film have a concise plot line, I believe a television adaptation would not have to feature any original characters, but instead just sample the general tone of the film. With a new cast of students faced with the troubles that every generation of young people have faced in some way or another, but featuring the infinite writing fodder that the sixties provides, American Graffiti could make an interesting television show.
Depicting the mind bending mediocrity that comes with working a minimum wage job, intertwined with the individual relationships between the characters Dante Hicks and Randal Graves, this film is a hilarious understanding of what it means to work a crappy job. This movie showcases the snappy and pop culture laden dialogue that writer/director Kevin Smith has created and adopted for all of his films, making it easily identifiable as his own.
Although the film has already had a short lived cartoon series, I believe that a show that features none of the original characters, but instead takes the identifiable tone and samples similar dialogue, could be a well loved adaptation. Smith’s dialogue could be easily imitated (if not actually written by him), and the plot could largely surround the intertwining of romantic relationships to a cast of bored workers. A television series version of Clerks. could be an answer to a new generation of people who feel burdened by working menial part time jobs that cause them to think thoughts like, “You know, if I broke a bone, I wouldn’t have to go to work today…”
The original film from 1973 is a classic and well written piece that acts largely as commentary on religion and the differing naiveté that it can create. A young Christian police sergeant goes to a Scottish island to search for a missing child, and subsequently finds that many townsfolk insist that she never existed. The villagers of the island of Summerisle practice a Celtic Pagan religion, which the sergeant is immediately appalled by, but he eventually learns even stranger practices that put his life in danger.
A prequel to this film could be both informative and dramatic, due to the atypical nature of the Celtic religion that most people would be unaware of. Watching this film, one can be pressed to ask questions such as, what else is involved in this town’s dogmatic practices? In the past, have circumstances like crops failing (which occurs in the film) put other people in danger? This film also has some of the most gorgeous and terrifying imagery in horror history, and could provide the grounds for infinitely creepy cinematography if it was adapted to TV.
House of 1000 Corpses
The series could feature the Firefly Family, a group of misfit murderers who get their kicks preying on those who are unfortunate enough to visit their large, creepy house. The film surrounds a group of four teenagers who are making their way across America, documenting roadside attractions in aims of writing a book. Their car runs out of gas after they pick up a mysterious blonde hitch-hiker, who turns out to be Baby Firefly, the cute bait who leads them to her blood stained home, where her and her family members subsequently torture each of the victims.
In House of 1000 Corpses, there is an implication that the Fireflys have been murdering people for a very long time. Their house is run down and laden with the junk that they have collected from prior victims, and even within the start of the movie there are several people who face their untimely deaths before the four main characters do. A prequel television adaptation of this film could provide the opportunity to answer why the Fireflys are as insane as they are, while presenting new scenarios that sample the colourful ode to seventies horror films that the movie has adopted.
Although many may argue that the speculations that I have listed could offend the fans of the film who (rightfully) don’t want to watch an adaptation of something that is already well loved. This trend of creating television series from films can be either widely inventive or disastrously ineffectual, and it all depends on how carefully the original stories are handled.