With the news last week that a movie based on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is moving forward with Guy Ritchie directing, Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant starring, we felt it was time for Movie Fanatic to get in the mix of this TV-to-big-screen bonanza.
There is a bounty out there when it comes to solid TV shows from the past that deserve to be brought to the big screen. So many would not only make better movies than many recent efforts such as The Lone Ranger and Bewitched, but just on paper alone, they sound like magnificent movies. Toss in the rich history of their television run and you've got a bona fide blockbuster in waiting. And many could become something that Hollywood is madly in love with right now: Franchises!
So without further ado, we’ve put on our pitch and casting hats and Movie Fanatic presents its Top 10 TV Shows That Should Be Movies.
Alias introduced the world to Jennifer Garner and made her a star. The J.J. Abrams-created show was the rare spy program that worked on every level and never lost sight of its mission. It aired for years and although the cast could be game for a big screen version as they haven’t gotten too old to play the parts… might we suggest a movie reboot?
Pitch: Begins just as pilot did with audience meeting Sidney Bristow in college who is getting recruited by her father for the CIA where she travels the world serving the interests of the U.S.A. As this could be a movie franchise, the first film should be a single, stand-alone origins story that culminates in an espionage adventure that teaches Sidney the ways of the spy world, while still showing her trying to maintain a “normal” life.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence as Sidney, Tom Cruise as her father.
9. Pushing Daisies
Pushing Daisies was one of those television shows that had a passionate following, but network executives never gave it a chance to find a wider audience. The cast of characters and the concept are impeccable for the film arena.
Pitch: The film introduces audiences to the quirky world of Pushing Daisies. Ned has a gift, he can bring people and animals back to life with a simple touch. Yet, the power comes with a price. Someone or something else must die as another is revived. The film should feature a plot that simultaneously establishes what everyone does and also expands Ned’s gift of bringing life back and its global consequence.
Cast: It’s only been a few years since it went off the air so bring everyone back for the movie -- the fans will love it.
If you would get the original CSI leads -- William Peterson and Marg Helgenberger -- back together for a stand alone movie, this could totally be one riveting film. Sure, it ran (and is still running with a new cast) for years, but there is something about the concept of delving into crime from a scientist's point of view that would make an easy jump to the big screen. Also, there was something astounding about the chemistry between Peterson and Helgenberger that would be even more electric in a movie house.
Pitch: With the ability to tell a story with an “R” rating, the CSI movie could truly push the boundaries and lift up the veil on the underbelly of Las Vegas. The film would put the “Sin” in Sin City as our dynamic duo try to solve a case of a serial killer who is wickedly twisted and at one point, even gets to hold Peterson captive. Not to give away too much, but how about Helgenberger coming to his rescue in a climatic close to the film that leaves you… with a cliffhanger.
What’s not to like? You have a name brand in CSI, which studios love, and with a leave ‘em hanging ending… I smell a franchise. And you know that studios adore those!
Cast: Same as TV… why mess with what works so well. As for our villain, no one does it better than Michael Shannon these days.
Deadwood was one of the most compelling Westerns told in the modern era. Yet, it never seemed to reach its full potential. It was almost constrained by the television screen. Sure, it was on HBO and could deliver the R-rated material that that world demanded, but a leap to a Hollywood movie would allow the Deadwood world to rivet an audience anew.
Pitch: Like Alias before, let the film serve as a reboot. The story and the characters are so rich and since the show aired on HBO and didn’t get tens of millions of viewers, it would be new to so many. And for those familiar with the story, with the expanse of the movie genre and the added increased budget that comes with it, the deliciousness of Deadwood would shine like never before.
Cast: Again, same as CSI, don’t fix what isn’t broken.
6. Hart to Hart
Back in the early to mid 1980s, Stephanie Powers and Robert Wagner were unstoppable as a wealthy married couple who solved crimes for fun. The movie could practically write itself! The show had humor, romance and even its fair share of action scenes that made it wildly popular. Yet… history seems to have forgotten it.
Pitch: Our wickedly wealthy couple are a member of the new rich, thanks to his and her building of a tech company that has become intertwined into modern day society. They sell off their business, and when boredom hits… they start to solve crimes, simply for kicks. The first few cases come kind of easy, but the meat of the film follows the detective duo as they try to find a missing kid that the police believe has been killed by his parents… who happen to be Hart to Hart’s best friends.
Cast: Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta Jones are the Harts. They were electric together in Red 2.
5. Hill Street Blues
Hill Street Blues ran from 1981 to 1987 and was one of the most powerful shows on television at the time. It showed the rough and tumble inner city streets as they truly were for cops of the time. The Hill Street unit of this inner city is filled with a cast of characters where each is more layered than the previous. The show also gave equal time to strong minority characters and female characters when few programs of that time did.
Pitch: When one of their own is brutally killed in the line of duty, the entire unit comes together to bring the killer to justice. Needless to say, things are not what they seem and the case winds up going in a dozen different directions. Good thing there are a slew of cops primed and ready to follow every lead until justice is served.
Cast: Denzel Washington is Capt. Furillo, Michael Chiklis is Sgt. Belker, J.K. Simmons is Det. Goldblume, Bradley Cooper is Officer Renko with Michael P. Jordan as Officer “Bobby” Hill and Ellen Barkin as Sgt. Lucy Bates.
4. Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap combined sci-fi, humor and good old-fashioned storytelling with a message when it aired for the too short timeline of 1989 to 1993. It starred Scott Bakula as the time leaper Dr. Sam Beckett and Dean Stockwell as his helper, Admiral Al Calavicci.
Pitch: After being forced to retire from NASA as the Shuttle program is downgraded, Beckett is not in a good place. Calavicci inadvertently meets him and through a crazy set of events sends Beckett back in time. First stop, the VIP area of The Hindenburg before it takes off.
Cast: Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths) as Beckett and Dustin Hoffman as Calavicci.
3. The Shield
The multi-Emmy winning The Shield has movie version bleeding from its pores. Michael Chiklis would tower on the big screen as the so bad he's amazing Det. Vic Mackey. It has a phenomenal run on TV and we believe his journey is far from over.
Pitch: A case that forces Mackey to work closely with a never-before-seen nemesis that fits cleanly into the show's mythology. This premise would expand the emotional power of Mackey and force him to face his demons and create all new ones.
Cast: Original ensemble from the FX hit.
2. Cagney and Lacey
With the success of The Heat, there is no reason not to green light a big screen version of the gruff and power that was Cagney and Lacey. Two well-established female detective characters, who are each their own woman of the day, work together to solve crimes -- despite numerous roadblocks set up by the system.
Pitch: They solve a case that hits especially close to home -- one of their friends has a daughter who is murdered.
Cast: Michelle Rodriguez is Cagney, Katee Sackhoff is Lacey.
1. The Greatest American Hero
William Katt played an average Joe who suddenly gets superpowers and struggles with learning how to use them while still attempting to save the day. Our clumsy hero is found out by an FBI agent who becomes a crime fighting mentor and eventual partner.
Pitch: Our average Joe awakes one day and can't explain how, but he has superpowers, like superman. He's clumsy, awkward and everything a superhero isn't. Then, he happens to come by a liquor store robbery and foils the heist, gets shot in the process and discovers that the bullet bounced off him. As the bad guys run away, he flies through the air and tackles them. Not completely knowing what just happened, he runs away utterly terrified.
The first act follows him learning to use his powers. The second act has him working alongside the FBI agent, and then in the third act... our hero is fully formed and ready to save the day... again and again. We smell a franchise.
Cast: Jason Segel as the hero with Jason Sudeikis as the G-man.
Might we also suggest: Lost as a prequel focused on the Dharma Initiative, Dr. Who for obvious reasons, The Fall Guy and The Equalizer… oh wait, that’s shooting right now in Boston!