Now and then, a movie will come along that makes people want to see even more of the story behind the characters and settings, and some intrepid young combination of producers and writers will turn it into a television series.
Of course, it’s typically less successful than you might hope, and in most cases, it becomes an all-out disaster. Here are some of the worst TV spinoffs of popular movies ever attempted.
The Blade series is based on the Marvel comics, and this is steeped in comic mythology and should have been ripe for a television spinoff of the relatively successful trilogy starring Wesley Snipes. Airing in 2006, Blade was actually created by acclaimed screenwriter David S. Goyer and took place directly after the action of Blade: Trinity. It aired on Spike and lasted a whopping 12 episodes before quietly fading away.
The worst part of this whole thing is that, initially, the series was set to head to Showtime with Snipes reprising his role in a graphic, violent adaptation, but when Snipes turned away from the project it went all to hell, leaving this mess in its wake.
You may not remember the movie Private Benjamin, but rest assured your parents no doubt recall the Goldie Hawn vehicle about a prissy woman who joins the military. It was basically the female answer to Stripes, and amazingly, it lasted three seasons and 39 episodes.
It actually had some of the same actors from the movie reprising their roles, most notably acclaimed comedy actress Eileen Brennan, who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role in the series. That’s really not a bad haul for a television series that pretty much no one in the world remembers actually existed in the first place.
No, we obviously aren’t talking about the current series starring Peter Krause and Kristen Bell’s husband who’s name is, improbably enough, “Dax.” Instead, we’re talking about the first attempt at spinning Ron Howard’s film starring Steve Martin into a weekly series, which actually, amazingly featured the likes of David Arquette, Ed Begley, Jr., Thora Birch and, oh yeah, some kid named Leo DiCaprio.
The series only ran for 12 episodes, despite USA Today calling the pilot the best movie adaptation since M*A*S*H first aired back in the 1970s. By the way, another notable contributor to the show? Some guy named Joss Whedon was one of the writers. No wonder it didn’t last with such a lack of talent.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is the movie that put Guy Ritchie on the map in the world of film. It was frenetic, hilarious, violent, and extremely stylish.
In fact, it was so stylish that people have been attempting to capture the same sort of lighting in a bottle ever since, including Ritchie, who can’t seem to duplicate that success. Anyway, believe it or not, Lock, Stock spawned a short-lived series on Channel 4 in the UK, which lasted for only seven episodes.
Now, television in the UK is different than in the states, as series tend to run a lot shorter, but that’s an awfully quick run for a series based on a wildly successful movie.
Now, you probably knew that there was a Ferris Bueller television spinoff, but the one you’re no doubt thinking of is Parker Lewis Can’t Lose which, if you couldn’t guess from the title, isn’t actually a direct spinoff despite absolutely, 100% being based on the same concept.
The series starred a guy named Charlie Schlatter as the eponymous Ferris, but he didn’t really get much of a chance to become anything even resembling a star as the show lasted only 13 episodes. One fun fact about the man who would be TV Ferris, however: he was the original choice to voice Philip Fry in Futurama, before being replaced by Billy West. Oh, and even more interestingly?
Jennifer Aniston played the Jennifer Grey role of Jeannie Bueller in the short-lived series. So, there’s that.
A lot of folks, sadly, may not remember the film Breaking Away by title alone, but if we were to tell you it’s that one with Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Haley as blue-collar kids in Bloomington, Indiana, who find themselves in the Little 500 bike race against rich college kids, well, chances are a whole lot better you know exactly what we’re talking about.
Breaking Away won Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, so it’s no surprise that someone tried to turn it into a TV series. Amazingly, Jackie Earle Haley reprised his role of Moocher, but the show lasted only eight episodes before fizzling out and becoming a forgotten potential gem.
Serpico is one of the most beloved cop films in history, starring Al Pacino as a damn good cop working against a corrupt system, and maybe not surprisingly there was an attempt to turn it into a TV series.
It actually seems like a prime example of a TV spinoff of a movie that really should have worked, but it lasted only 15 episodes. There was some talent behind it, as well, with legendary composer Elmer Bernstein creating the theme music but even that wasn’t enough to save this from becoming a forgotten attempt to capitalize on the success of a great film.
A lot of television spinoffs of movies are pretty much straightforward continuations of the plots of those movies, but that was not the case with a horribly misguided attempt to turn the John Candy classic Uncle Buck into a weekly sitcom. The movie was big on learning to become one big, happy, accepting family, but the series decided, “Eh, screw that, let’s kill the parents and make Buck the legal guardian of those kids!”
Yeah, that was seriously the premise. Uncle Buck played here by the insanely obnoxious Kevin Meaney, is forced to take care of his nieces and nephew after his brother and sister-in-law die in a car wreck. That’s good old fashioned family fun, right there. Not surprisingly, it lasted only one season.