Bronte Hoy talks the silver & small screens and whether the two should stay as distant as possible
Let’s face it, most of us have had an addiction to a television show at one stage in our lives. The severity can range from blissful to mindlessly finishing a whole season in one day and we can drift between different shows through time (i.e. during hiatuses), but we never really break free from our TV bonds. Whether it was Sailor Moon on Cheez TV as a kid or Game of Thrones as an overly caffeinated adult, you’ve got to admit to some kind of love affair with TV at some point in your life.
With our love running deep for our respective telly addictions, it’d be a blessing to see them make it onto the silver screen… right?
I’m afraid it’s not always quite “right”, my square-eyed Samaritans. There are some things that are better left unsaid (or seen) in the case of most television shows and for the most part, it’s the idea of potentially turning that little slice of heaven into a Hollywood hit or miss. While there are a few transitions onto screen that have actually worked out (21 Jump Street, anyone?), a lot of these films prove to be disappointing on the big screen (like the Last Airbender… *shudders*).
Deciding to make the transition from television to film is risky business in the first place. A lot of the time, there are changes in actors, writers, directors, storylines, and there’s always a definite change in the structure of the original show that if done too differently, can make the whole adaptation fall to pieces. The episodic nature of a television program doesn’t quite transfer well into a feature film. The structure breaks down until the movie seems like one long, uncomfortable, seemingly endless episode that just doesn’t sit well, like swallowing half a Dorito sideways. It has to be done impressively well or the film spirals downward into the pit of angry fans, and nobody wants that. Nobody.
More often than not, the shows that really make it successfully onto the silver screen are the classics like 21 Jump Street and The Addams Family because they’re so old that they’ve become new. Xfinity Entertainment couldn’t have said it any better in their slideshow of “The Best and Worst Films Based on TV Shows”. There were actually a few good movies included in the article (excluding Get Smart… we don’t talk about Get Smart) but the vast majority of them were, in fact, adapted from super old TV shows like Charlie’s Angels and The Smurfs. Re-imaginings of older shows are a good time, especially for our older relatives, and it shows that media, like fashion, comes full circle eventually; everything old becomes new and then we get reboots like Star Trek which came in at number one at Xfinity Entertainment. Live long and prosper, classic television.
That’s not to say that current TV shows can’t be amazing on film. No entertainment website slideshow can convince me that The Spongebob Squarepants Movie isn’t the greatest movie ever made – it’s absence from the list was quite disturbing, really, but there are a lot of shows that should have been left alone, like any of the Drake and Josh movies or any of the live action Nickelodeon or Disney Channel movies, for that matter. There seems to be a lack of passion from the writers and directors bequeathed with the task of adaptation that gives an air of cash cowery to the films, that’s where the problem lies. Big differences to the original for the sake of making money equals some very displeased fans and movie-goers.
Overall, a good film adaptation of a television show has to have the same elements as a long term relationship; an essential love and respect from everyone involved. Fans and film teams have to be truly passionate about the original to create and enjoy a good film and you can see it in classics and currents shows/movies alike. There’s love in the Spongebob movies. There’s love in the fan backed Veronica Mars movie. There’s respect for the Simpsons Movie, especially considering the show lost its pizazz soon after. A truly loveable TV to film adaptation has to be done well or not at all – the fragility of it is as simple as that.
GIFs: Parks and Recreation NBC, Spongebob Squarepants Nickelodeon
Image: Eva Rinaldi flickr, no changes made