What are the best films based on TV series?

A guest article…

For sheer entertainment value a movie is hard to beat, and some of the best films of recent years are inspired by popular TV series. Familiar characters and settings are given expanded plots, better effects and higher production values to create a cinematic experience with instant appeal to a ready-made audience. And with an LED TV from Argos, you can enjoy the magic of the big screen in the comfort of your own home.

Old Favorites

The TV shows of the sixties and seventies have given us some of the more memorable recent film adaptations. Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia, and the old-school charm of The Brady Bunch and Bewitched provide feel-good fun that everyone can enjoy. Starsky & Hutch has given a whole new generation the opportunity to appreciate the wonders of men’s knitwear in an entertaining homage. The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie’s Angels have also both made it to the big screen, parodying the originals to great effect.

Several 1980s TV shows were also a source of inspiration. Just six episodes of the series Police Squad! formed the basis of the hugely popular The Naked Gun films, demonstrating that strong characters, entertaining storylines and non-stop sight-gags can create successful films. Cult series Miami Vice was given a modern makeover in 2006, but with enough knowing references to the original to satisfy viewers old and new.

But for a real retro buzz, the perfect pastiche of Dragnet is hard to beat. The 1950s TV series was the first in a long line of copy-cat police procedurals, but the 1987 comedy adaptation featuring Dan Akroyd and a young Tom Hanks is a classic and perfectly showcases both actor’s comic timing.

Children’s films can be real box-office gold and not just for the merchandising opportunities. The Care Bears Movie and Alvin and the Chipmunks are just two movies based on popular cartoons. Classic kids’ show Scooby Doo was given a contemporary twist when a live-action film version was made, with computer-generated imagery used to produce striking visual effects.

This format was also used in The Flintstones movie, with the dinosaurs created by the inimitable Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. This leads neatly to surely the best film made from a children’s TV show – The Muppets. With lovable characters and catchy songs it was sheer fun for all the family.

Sci-fi is another genre that has moved very successfully from the small screen to the cinema. Transformers, X-Men, Dr Who and The X-Files have all made the transition, reaching a far larger audience than the original shows. Joss Whedon’s popular Firefly TV series was left unresolved when cancelled mid-season by the network but the subsequent film Serenity not only tied up the loose ends but spawned thriving spin-off comics and games.

But undoubtedly the best big-screen sci-fi adaptation has to be Star Trek. The 1966 series has inspired an astounding 11 feature films, with a further sequel scheduled for release in 2013. Instantly recognizable characters, epic effects and a gigantic fan base of Trekkies have propelled this series into the stratosphere of success.

Simply the Best

The action genre is probably the ultimate example of popular TV shows making incredible movies. Films allow far more scope for high-octane car chases, daredevil stunts and spectacular visuals. And when you watch them at home? Sony Bravia TVs are great for enjoying every second in perfect clarity.

The A-Team was released in 2010 to great acclaim. Retaining the original characters but shifting them from Vietnam veterans to Iraq War soldiers brings the franchise right up to date in an action-packed rollercoaster that delights and entertains. With plenty of nods to the much-loved original (even revealing the cause of B. A. Baracus’s fear of flying), this was a big hit with fans across the generations.

And the best? It has to be the Mission: Impossible series. Originally aired in 1966, thirty years later the story was brought to the big screen with a bang. Tom Cruise had long been a fan, and the first in the film series was the first project his own production company worked on. With an impressive history of performing his own stunts, there is no doubt that he brought a tough, contemporary edge to this most popular of shows. Several sequels followed, with another rumored to be in the pipeline.

John Woo’s sequel Mission: Impossible II was a triumphantly artistic action film. From the jaw-dropping opening scene of Ethan Hunt free-climbing to the ambitious motorcycle chase, it was a thrill-a-minute ride from start to finish. The flock of white doves rising behind Ethan Hunt’s bike is surely one of the most iconic images in modern cinematic history – beautiful, striking and utterly unforgettable.

So there we have it. Some of the best films have been inspired by TV series, featuring action, adventure, humor and loveable characters. They are perfect popcorn flicks!

Note: this is a guest article. Interested in contributing to Dave On Film? We occasionally accept these guest commentaries or reviews. Drop me an email, let’s talk about your idea!

One comment on “What are the best films based on TV series?

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