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Monday, December 21, 2009

Seven Science Fiction Movies That Should Be TV Shows

There are a lot of fantastic movies out there that have the potential to be more. Terminator, for example, certainly had the possibility of a TV show built into it, and with the moderate success of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, everyone can see why (even if you didn’t like the show to begin with). But what other movies would make great TV shows?

The following are my top seven movies that should be turned into TV shows:

Galaxy Quest
Tim Allen is probably an easy pick for the small screen. For one, he’s already been there with Home Improvement, demonstrating that he knows the trade; and two, Galaxy Quest is a perfect fit for his comedic style both on the big screen and on our television sets. Add in the rest of the cast, some of them TV experts and some of them just damn good actors, and you have the potential for a great show. The only thing that has to be decided is this: do you tell a story about the actors going on space adventures, or the story of the fictional characters in the TV show?
Problem: Daryl Mitchell is paralyzed due to a car accident; the way around that is to rewrite his character with the same disability.
Pitch: America’s answer to Doctor Who.

While the movie is fairly self-contained, it alludes to a lot of back matter that would make for an interesting television series (preferably on HBO or Showtime, rather than the networks). You could tell one of two stories: the prequel story of how the world turned into this emotion-rejecting, drugged up ninja clan, or the sequel of what happens after Bale’s character gets revenge. Both could work, but I suspect that a prequel would be somewhat pointless, since we know where things end up.
Problem: There would have to be some damned fine writers to pull this off. You could say that of most of these, but I think Equilibrium requires the kind of writer who can manage the depth of character needed to make it interesting and powerful. Someone like Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica, perhaps.
Pitch: 1984 meets Brave New World and Philip K. Dick.

The One
As one of my favorite movies of all time, this Jet Li action flick has a built in concept for a television series. All you have to do is cut out all the bits about “the one” and tell a show about the police officers who patrol the multiverse (multiple dimensions). Make it part police procedural, part action and you’ve got the makings of an awesome show.
Problem: A TV version of The One can’t be anthology style like The Outer Limits or other shows (i.e. the terrible Dollhouse). It has to really get into the characters and provide more than a repetition of the same basic plot over and over.
Pitch: Science Fiction has a love affair with Law & Order.

Two classics of science fiction, the series has recently been bastardized in the Alien vs. Predator movies and is desperately in need of a proper revival. A TV show produced by one of the cable networks with quality writing, plenty of the dark, scary horror, and the military-style science fiction elements could remind us what was so awesome about the originals. There’s potential for an expansive look into the universe that gave us Ripley and the alien queen, with all kinds of social and political dynamics coming into play.
Problem: Whoever tries to pull this off would has to realize that the only way Alien/s can work is with decent writing, good special effects, and realistic portrayals of the aliens. This means no TV-quality CG and a lot of attention paid to detail. While the original Alien was sparse, a TV show has to do more.
Pitch: Aliens. That is all.

The Fifth Element
Cut out all of the heavy religious stuff (which worked well for the movie) and you could have a really interesting world to work with for a TV show. The Fifth Element is one of those weird, strangely lovable films that gives you so much, but can only develop a few of the important points before ending. A TV show, however, could take all of those bits that we only got a glimpse of and make a pretty weird, pretty fun story.
Problem: Deciding what kind of story to tell in this particular universe would be a tough choice. Do you ignore the original characters in exchange for a broader, adventurous, slightly odd show, or do you stick with the God person and the cab driver? That’s a tough choice.
Pitch: It’s Star Wars meets Red Dwarf and Total Recall.

Yes, it’s already been a TV show. Yes, it was canceled. But the fact that Whedon’s fans helped spawn the movie Serenity should be reason enough to consider the possibility of a revival of a Firefly series. Just imagine what it would be like to see Reynolds and his crew firing up the sky with Serenity, causing mayhem and havoc wherever they go. There’s still life in the series, and fans would fall head over heels for the opportunity to see it back on their television screens.
Problem: It's already been canceled once. The solution is to host the show on another network, preferably one that has a healthy respect for science fiction. Besides, some of the original characters were killed off in Serenity, and Whedon would have to come up with some damned good reasons to replace them.
Pitch: A western in space with your lovable ragtag group of smugglers, gunhands, and government experiments.

Starship Troopers
Yes, I am well aware of the horrible animated show and the various craptastic sequels to the original movie, but if any concept deserves a shot at being blown up Band of Brothers style by HBO or Showtime, it is Starship Troopers. With a decent budget and some good writing, this classic science fiction satire could really take Heinlein’s original novel to new heights. All it needs is a little facelift and some good, honest writing.
Problems: You’d need a fairly big budget and the writing would have to be exceptional to pull this off. While the movie works, the franchise has largely been bastardized by crappy writing and poor effects. Someone has to be brave enough to invest in a true Starship Troopers TV show for this to work.
Pitch: Band of Brothers in space with giant insect-like aliens.

And there you have it. What movies would you like to see turned into TV shows? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Alien/Aliens for sure. The simplest way to adapt the show is to use the BG ressurection series as a guide. A heavy military aspect when human marines are sent on missions to either eradicate alien threats to human outposts, or to investigate planets being chosen to mine or terraform, or to grab samples for study.

    Then you bring in the science element where scientists fight their own personal moral battles when actually weaponizing the alien DNA, or trying to apply it to commercial or consumer uses.

    Weyland Yutani as a corporation should be, at this point, actively trying to take over the earth one country at a time, while still appearing to be a benevolent corporation with Earth's best interests at heart. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, some governments of earth try to unite and resist the almost limitless wealth WY can offer people chosen to "throw the match"...IE, puppet governments who never say no to WY.

    That scenario should pretty much provide enough story material for a few seasons of watchability before it all goes to hell.

  2. Stace: Oh, I agree. That would be an awesome show right there.

  3. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Harry Potter films - had they been a TV series then they wouldn't be so pants.

  4. Oh, that would have been interesting. Harry Potter on TV instead of in the theater. Do you think it would have been as successful?