Next month sees the première of a new version of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo reworked as a 10-episode television series for FX. Whilst the thought of someone without the last name ‘Coen’ putting their grubby mitts on one of the Brothers’ best movies might be rather unappealing to fans, their presence as executive producers and a stellar cast including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Bob Odenkirk has done a lot to persuade fans that this could actually be something rather good.
If Fargo does indeed live up to the hype that’s building around it then there’ll no doubt be a push for more television adaptations of movies in a similar vein — and here are but a few films who could stand up to a similar treatment.
Before Prometheus further split opinion on whether it was a good idea for Ridley Scott to revisit his earlier works, a return to the world of Blade Runner was planned as well as his sort-of-prequel to Alien. However, it might be that the smaller screen would be a better proposition if Scott does still want to return to his vision of what Los Angeles will look like in 2019 (making sure he gets the project done in the next five years might also be a smart move).
The world of Blade Runner is one of the most compelling parts of the film, and clearly in a television series there would be plenty of room to explore it. And, with shows like Game of Thrones showing that genre won’t necessarily scare off television audiences, its high time that someone filled the gap in the market that is science fiction on television.
Like Blade Runner, The Departed is a great film in its own right, don’t get me wrong. None of the films on this list ‘need’ to be transferred to television — but they do have the potential to be a great television series as well as a great movie, The Departed in particular.
Crime dramas like The Wire and The Shield are some of the most well-loved television series of all time, so a series that takes the central conceit of The Departed, that being a cop going undercover living a life of crime whilst a member of the same criminal organization acts as a mole in the police department, could quite easily make for a compelling story if stretched across the length of a television series.
The fact that the source material for The Departed, Infernal Affairs, was followed by a prequel and a sequel, meaning that should the show run for more than one season, there’s already material out there to base another run of episodes on.
This is Spinal Tap
Whilst most entries on this list would almost certainly be better off starting from scratch with their cast, it goes without saying that if Spinal Tap were going to make their way to television, it would have to be with the original line-up. That said, if they could be persuaded to give a reunion tour a go, it may well be that a half-hour comedy series might even be a better format for the band than a full-length movie.
After all, the mockumentary format that Tap helped to pioneer has since been used to great effect by TV comedy heavyweights like The Office and Modern Family. One thing that might count against the return of Spinal Tap is the fact that the sort of bands that they were aping are few and far between these days, although it could well be said that seeing the band even further out of their comfort zone could be a good basis for a new look at Spinal Tap.
Trick ‘R Treat
Admittedly, we’re already getting more Trick ‘R Treat than we perhaps deserve, with a sequel to the underappreciated Halloween anthology being announced last year, but it could well be that any follow-up would find more success on television than as a movie.
In fact, the very nature of the interweaving plot threads that makes the movie such a finely crafted package would no doubt flourish over the course of a television series.
In recent years, shows like American Horror Story and Hannibal have really pushed the limits of how far a horror television show can go, so Trick ‘R Treat were to make the jump to the small screen, it’s good to know that it wouldn’t have to lose any of its edge.
Whilst at the time this movie was made, M. Night Shyamalan was riding a wave of positive critical response that seems almost unthinkable given his recent output, the title card that ties things up so unsatisfactorily at the end of this move was perhaps a hint at the depths he would sink to.
Coming at the end of such a novel and enjoyable take on the then-burgeoning superhero genre, the neat ending that was pasted onto the end of Unbreakable ended the movie on a bum note for many, but if it were ignored, a television adaptation could succeed where something like Heroes failed.
Few films since have nailed the tone of a real-world superhero as expertly as in Unbreakable, so a television series that nabbed the basics of the plot and that all-important tone could really run wild in building its own universe around these strong foundations — and since the superhero train doesn’t look like it’s slowing down yet, now is the time to strike whilst the iron is hot.
The Star Wars television series that was in development a few years back seems to have fallen off the radar somewhat in favour of the upcoming Episode VII, but why choose one or the other when you could have both? Television is enjoying something of a golden age at present, so why not make a Star Wars television series for older audiences that grew up with the Star Wars films?
Doing so would allow the new trilogy to aim more squarely at children without leaving adults out in the cold, and the series itself could be something rather terrific. Even a ten-episode season would allow ample time for a host of characters and locations to be present, whether it’s familiar places from the films or the expanded universe or completely new ideas.
You could even use a similar idea to the concept behind the hybrid video game-comic book-toy line ‘Shadows of the Empire’ that was used as a testbed for Episode 1 in linking the television series and the movie and whatever else to really hook people in. Whilst a Star Wars television series could indeed be horrible, it’s difficult to imagine that you’d struggle to assemble a dream team of talent to work on bringing such a beloved franchise to television — and even harder to imagine that it wouldn’t find an expansive audience.