So I’ve noticed that more and more remakes and adaptations from film are making their way to the smaller screen, which got me thinking about some of my favorites and how they compare to the originals. While some television series go in a completely different direction, others attempt to be closer to the original but sometimes fail to capture the same allure, leaving fans disappointed or searching for more. To me, what makes a television series truly stand out is if it takes on its own life and branches out into a new world of characters and stories. Whether it is considered a prequel or another chapter, the series has to capture the interest of the viewer who tuned in and keep it. Sounds like a difficult task especially when you add in an original film that the series is based on. Some of the shows below do an excellent job of staying true to the original and respecting where the series comes from in terms of history and context. At the same time, they are able to continue on with the story or shift into a new one without skipping a beat, keeping the original fans happy and bringing in new ones at the same time. My top 5 television series based on movies are:
5) Teen Wolf. Based upon the 1985 film of the same name starring Michael J. Fox, the series was created in 2011 on MTV. Already this was a risky move, as the audience MTV was targeting might not have necessarily seen the original movie, although I hope so. While the movie has a cheesy humor-like quality, the series follows the same premise of a teenage-boy realizing that he is transforming into a werewolf, only it embraces more of a horror genre approach. Both characters are named Scott, only with different last names and have to deal with the consequences of being bitten by a werewolf while dealing with everyday teenage drama. While the series is based on the movie, it really becomes something completely new and different, advancing the plot into something darker with touches of romance and terror, delving much deeper into the story.
4) Hannibal. Based upon the films, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon, the series is a psychological thriller that dives into the relationship between FBI agent, Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter who will later become his nemesis. While the television series had a lot to live up to from the books and films it was based upon, it proves to be a contender with excellent performances and a detailed plot, which keeps the viewer active and involved. As a result, the audience becomes hooked and drawn to every horrible reveal. While the films attempt to stay true to the books and showcase a simpler approach, the series is not afraid to break into new developments and jump head first into the darkness and insanity that is at the core of these characters.
3) Ash vs Evil Dead. Based upon the franchise films, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness, the series once again stars the very funny and brilliant Bruce Campbell as Ash or “Ashy Slashy” as fans know him by. What is so great about this series is it is a true continuation of the films. Bruce Campbell is once again the star bringing fans back to the originals. Bruce Campbell has a true talent for bringing the campy horror-like genre a life of its own and I would have been disappointed if anyone had been casted in his place. Once again, Bruce and his chainsaw arm need to fight the forces of evil and he recruits some new and fun characters to help along the way. Lucy Lawless also joins the cast who did work with Bruce previously on Xena and fits in perfectly. The series stays true to the campy-horror genre while keeping the comedy going strong.
2) Bates Motel. Based upon the classic film, Psycho, the prequel follows the life of Norman Bates as a teenager and also introduces his mother, Norma Bates. The acting in the series is so real and powerful, as each actor reveals to the audience vulnerability blended with insanity, hypnotizing us into wanting to watch more and more. What’s truly impressive about the series is that the viewer becomes attached and fully invested into both Norman and Norma. As Norman is losing control, you do feel bad for him and see that there are moments of goodness that do truly exist in him. His unusual attachment to his mother seems harmless at first, but grows into something more and more dangerous, however. The series does an excellent job of allowing viewers to see the man behind the monster and to understand that although darkness wins in the end, there is a grey area that exists, making it not so easy to merely write Norman off as a killer without a conscience.
1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Based upon the film of the same name, this television series is at the top of my list because it takes a superficial campy premise and turns it into something epic and memorable. In the film, Buffy is very superficial and materialistic which creates some laughs and fun along the way, but there is nothing substantial about her character that makes her stand out. When Joss Whedon decided to turn his movie into a television series, Buffy had now become a character that teenage girls could truly look up to. She is a strong female who makes some bad decisions along the way, but this shows that she is human and she has to sacrifice a lot in order to save the world, growing up fast as a result. The humor remains but is more subtle and witty in the series, embracing more of a romantic and darker idea about the world of vampires and truly recognizing that this is a lot of pressure to put on one teenage girl to fight them all and repeatedly save the world. The series has the perfect blend of drama, action, comedy, and horror with terrific acting and entertaining villains along the way. It has truly surpassed the film, but it’s fun to take a look back at the movie from time to time.
I hope you enjoyed the list. Feel free to post your comments below on your favorite television series based on films. Happy viewing!
Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl