Last week’s link round up included several movies being turned into TV series and one TV series being adapted as a movie. The former tends to be successful; the format of a series allows the development of characters and plots over more time. TV series adapted into movies haven’t had the same success. The root cause has been a lack of respect to both the original material and the fans.
Lost in Translation hasn’t looked at many TV series adapted to movies. The more successful ones, like Star Trekand The Naked Gun were made with the original creative staff and cast; the transition was to take what was being done on television to the big screen. In the case of The Naked Gun, the move allowed the creators to indulge without having to worry about restrictions imposed by the network’s Broadcast Standards and Practices group. Meanwhile, works like Land of the Lost and Starsky & Hutch played the ideas behind the original shows for laughs, missing the point of the original work. The A-Team remake ran into the passage of time; The Vietnam War was still lurking in American culture when the TV series debuted while the Gulf Wars didn’t affect the American psyche with returning soldiers vilified.
This leads to the news of Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock” himself, being cast to play Colt Seavers in a Fall Guy remake movie. For those not familiar with the show, The Fall Guy was about a stuntman who moonlighted as a bounty hunter to make ends meet. Colt would use tricks of the stunt trade to help track down the men and women who skipped bail, with the help of his cousin Howie and fellow stunt performer Jody. The show was light action/adventure, with humour coming from the byplay between the core cast. Note that the show wasn’t a comedy, though; the humour came from reactions of characters. The trick is to trim back the 80s era cheese while still keeping the core of The Fall Guy and also feature Johnson and give him a solid role to build on. At the same time, Johnson brings in his own physicality and can bring a new dimension to the character. Ultimately, Johnson has to respect Lee Majors’ work while adding his own element.
What holds for The Fall Guy holds for other movie treatments of old TV series. Just because the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s had different approaches to televised storytelling doesn’t mean that series from those decades can be easily held up for ridicule. The shows did have a following; what is seen as cheesy now was once ground breaking. The grim darkness of today’s works will be seen in similar light in time. Respect for the original work and its fans is critical to success.
Next week, Doom.