<I>Parenthood</I> Take Heed: TV Shows Adapted From Movies Have Tried and Failed Before You

What is with the TV industry's obsession with making shows out of movies released decades ago? And why make a new show from a movie that was already turned into a halfway decent TV series 20 years ago? Did the producers of the new Parenthood not witness the debacle that was Eastwick? (Apparently not.) Sure, some films have made a positive transition to television (M*A*S*H, Stargate, Friday Night Lights and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to name a few) but for every success story, there's a massive stinker that sucks the life out of the source material and dampens our fond memories of the cinematic original. While Parenthood might succeed (given its awesome cast), we're at least hoping that it doesn't follow the footsteps of these complete duds.

The Witches of Eastwick was a wickedly fun movie with star-power galore, featuring Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as three witches and Jack Nicholson as the devil who goaded them into using their powers for evil. There was a TV adaptation in 1992 that never made it to air, another flopped pilot starring Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl), Lori Loughlin (90210) and Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) in 2002 and then the most recent version with Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price, Jaime Ray Newman and Paul Gross. When you've got Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson's role being filled by the guy from Due South, you should know you're in trouble. But it wasn't just the lack of a charismatic cast that got this 2009 series pulled off the airwaves quickly, it was also the poor writing that basically made the program a cross between Desperate Housewives andCharmed, which really no one needed or wanted.

My Big Fat Greek Life
This little indie that could really couldn't when it came to the small screen. Mostly unknown Nia Vardalos and John Corbett had an unexpected chemistry on screen, and Lainie Kazan really rocked as the big Greek mama, with the rest of the family a surprising delight to see on the big screen (we still look at a Windex bottle and giggle). But when they took that charming comedy and turned it into a formulaic sitcom with predictable jokes, and recast John Corbett with Stephen Eckholdt, that movie magic quickly disappeared and, after seven brief episodes, so did the show.

The film Clueless is based on literature, so it has to be good, right? And it had Alicia Silverstone as a pampered teen princess learning to help others instead of just herself as well as finding Mr. Right (Paul Rudd), who was under her nose the whole time. Oh, and she befriends a fashion-challenged Brittany Murphy (though her recent death makes this sad to watch now). The TV series was just basically a more colorful version of 90210 with Rachel Blanchard (who is no Alicia Silverstone) starring as a kinder, less selfish (though still ditzy) version of Cher. And David Lascher, though adorable on Hey, Dude and Sabrina, was nowhere near as cute as Rudd. So this film became a teen show that lasted three seasons (on two different networks) and resembled Jane Austen's Emma not at all. Great theme song, though.

Uncle Buck
John Candy starred as a drinking, smoking, absentee uncle who got stuck caring for his nieces and nephews (including a pre-Home Alone Macaulay Culkin). And though he had a highly unconventional style, he ended up actually being good in a parental role. It's a feel-good sort of flick with a lot of physical humor and a little bit of edge. But for the TV show, Candy was replaced by Kevin Meaney (who will probably always be remembered for his whining "that's not right" stand-up), who played the role as a typical sitcom dad. Oh, and the kids were changed to orphans. Orphans! That's a terrible way to start off a sitcom and probably contributed to the show's failure.

Ferris Bueller
It was a must-see John Hughes comedy with a precocious teen who fakes an illness to skip school, contrives to take his best friend and girlfriend out for a day on the tow, and ends up in the middle of a parade in his honor. Totally implausible, but we loved it because of the then-charming Matthew Broderick. That energy and goodwill didn't translate to the TV show, which was just another run-of-the-mill high school comedy. The similarly themed Parker Lewis Can't Lose did a far better job of translating the vibe of Ferris to the small screen in the very same TV season. Ferris did have one saving grace: it introduced us to Jennifer Aniston... actually, we're not sure that's a good thing after all.

Clerks: The Animated Series
Much like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Clerks was an independent film that made good (and made director Kevin Smith's career). It was a surprise hit about two slackers working at a convenience store and video store (Smith actually worked in said convenience store by day) and was filled with filthy language and wonderfully crude humor. It spawned a sequel (Clerks 2) and a spinoff (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) and this short-lived cartoon. It wasn't necessarily that the 'toon itself was so terrible (though trying to make exciting animation out of two slackers is a bit of a challenge) but the fact that the humor had to be cleaned up to air on network television (for the two episodes that actually aired). In another era, this show might have had a shot as part of something like Adult Swim.

Take one depressing, overrated Oscar winning film about racism and intersecting lives in Los Angeles, dumb it down even further and put it on a network that is not known for its original programming and you've got a recipe for bland, instantly forgettable TV.

10 Things I Hate About You
Take what we said about Clueless and replace "based on Emma" with "based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew" and instead of Alicia Silverstone, put in Julia Stiles. In the movie, Heath Ledger played the charming boy, and his later untimely death makes this film sad to watch now. For the ABC Family series, they stripped out all of the fun banter and wit and just made it your traditional teen comedy about two feuding sisters, one who wants to be popular and one who dislikes people. It's pretty generic, but we suppose it appeals to those kids who have never seen the original. Maybe that's why it's still on the air?




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