10 TV Series That Were Movies First: Some You Might Know... Others a SurpriseSeptember 20, 2019
Mindy Kaling and writing partner Matt Warburton have recreated the 1994 rom-com classic Four Weddings and a Funeral into a TV series. It's not necessarily a remake, with changes to the storyline and characters, but it holds onto the same premise: a group of friends relying on each other as they go through the highs (weddings) and lows (funeral) of life. If you're a little hesitant, please know, it is set in London.
It's lofty to take a beloved movie and attempt to make it into something new; sometimes it hits... sometimes it misses.
Here are 10 TV series that were movies first:
The Coen brothers' Fargo hit theaters in 1996, starring William H. Macy, Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi. The story revolves around a desperate man who hires two thugs to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom. When the plan goes awry, things get a little out of hand. In 2014, Fargo popped up on TV screens, starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Allison Tolman in the leads. The first season followed the storyline we saw on the big screen. The series is going into its fourth season in 2020.
Ron Howard's 1989 Parenthood featured an all-star ensemble cast including Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne West, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves and a tween-aged Joaquin Phoenix. The movie covers multi-generations and universal themes like managing marriage, raising a teen as a single parent, and having a teen about to be a parent. The storyline was revisited again in 2010, with the TV version starring familiar faces like Six Feet Under star Peter Krause and Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham. The series was on air for six seasons, running through 2015.
Written and directed by Michael Crichton, Westworld hit theaters in 1973, starring Richard Benjamin, James Broslin, Yul Brynner and Victoria Shaw. The story follows vacationers who turn up to a digitalized amusement park, with robots programmed to interact with the park visitors. In 2016, HBO brought the jaw-dropping story to TV, starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Thandie Newton. "Jaw-dropping" because the robots were programmed to feel pain, with the vacationers requesting to commit murder (and other terrible acts) as part of their leisurely activities. Things take a turn when the robots start to develop a realization of what they are and... the power they have. Season three will premiere in 2020.
The 1995 teen comedy Clueless was loosely based off of Jane Austen's Emma. But rather than being set in 19th century England, in the movie we pick up with modern-day Beverly Hills teen queen Cher (Alicia Silverstone). She takes it upon herself to matchmake her hapless teacher Miss Geist (Twink Caplan). As well, she adopts the new girl (Brittany Murphy) as her pet project, trying to reinvent her enough to attract the popular guy. Meanwhile, Cher didn't realize she had a love interest right in front of her (Paul Rudd). In 1996 the TV series premiered, with original cast members Stacey Dash, Donald Faison and Elisa Donovan. Alas, Silverstone didn't join the series and was replaced with Rachel Blanchard. The series ran for three seasons, from 1996-1999.
5. Uncle Buck
John Candy starred in the title role of 1989's family comedy Uncle Buck, playing uncle to a teenage girl and her younger siblings. When Buck's brother is rushed to the hospital, he takes charge of the kids. No one is really confident in this decision, least of all the kids. In 2016, Uncle Buck made its way to TV, with Mike Epps taking on the role of the reluctant caretaker, stepping in when the nanny resigns unexpectedly. The series had only the one season.
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer has become a cult classic. The series ran from 1997-2003, starring Sara Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers. She was destined to be a vampire slayer but really would have rather enjoyed her popularity at Sunnydale High. Even so, Buffy rose to the occasion, not wanting her friends and community to perish. Prior to the TV series, Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland starred in the 1992 movie. There are a lot of dedicated Buffy fans out there, can there be more than one "chosen one"?
7. About a Boy
Another Hugh Grant-starrer was made into a TV series. 2002's About a Boy starred Grant as the perpetual bachelor. He had not a worry... nor a care, for that matter. That's until he met a little boy (Nicholas Hoult) who needed some adult guidance. It was time for this man-child to grow up. In 2014, David Walton took on the role of Will Freeman, opposite newcomer Benjamin Stockham. The series ran for two seasons.
8. The Odd Couple
Tony Randall and Jack Klugman starred as mismatched roommates in the 1970s TV series The Odd Couple. Both men find themselves divorced and move in together in a pinch. When we think of the The Odd Couple, those are the go-to actors, but there was also a 1968 movie beforehand, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Hmm, which odd couple made the best couple?
If you've seen 1991's Silence of the Lambs it's probably imprinted on your brain, being that disturbing. The film revolves around a rookie FBI agent (Jodie Foster) who is tasked with finding a serial killer. She calls on an imprisoned psychopath, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), for his help in tracking the murderer. The TV series Hannibal (2013-2015) is a prequel to the movie, taking us back to when Hannibal worked as a psychiatrist.
The TV series M*A*S*H aired from 1972-1983. While set during the Korean War, the doctors and nurses of an army hospital were able to squeeze in some fun, in-between saving lives. The ensemble cast was made up of Alan Alda, Loretta Swift, Mike Farrell, Gary Burghoff and Jamie Farr. And before the beloved series, there was a movie in 1970, starring other familiar faces like Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt and Sally Kellerman.
BONUS: If that weren't enough to wrap your mind around, there's also a Lord of the Rings prequel series in the works and a High Fidelity TV series coming out, based on the 2000 film.
Which TV series were hits?? Misses??