In my last couple of posts I’ve looked at TV to TV remakes, and film to TV remakes. It’s reasonably easy to judge the “success” of these endeavours by the number of seasons a TV series lasts. It’s not that easy when the remake is a film, and the original material is a TV program. Sometimes what we have is a true remake, in the sense that the movie stands alone, recreating the circumstances or premise of the TV series. However, we also have films which aren’t remakes as such, but rather continuations of story arcs that began on television.
In the true remake category, we often see a classic TV show that was either very popular in its day, or that developed a cult following film producers felt would generate a hefty audience for a remake as a movie. Cynics will say that these producers are usually motivated by financial considerations, not nostalgic ones, but surely that couldn’t always be the case?
Popular shows that became movies might include Bewitched and The Brady Bunch in the live-action category, and The Flintstones and Scooby Doo in the animation to live-action category. TV series with cult followings could include The Addams Family (live-action), and Yogi Bear and Rocky and Bullwinkle (animation to live-action).
If we judge the success of a TV series by number of seasons, we could judge the success of a movie by whether it has a sequel. In this The Addams Family might be in a category of its own, as it’s been remade as an animated TV show, a live-action TV show, a live-action movie, and I believe there’s now an animated movie in the works. Safe to say, I think, that this is a successful idea. It may even qualify as a franchise (see my next post).
There are two Flintstones movies, but since they’re not with the same cast, I’m not sure the second one counts as a sequel. Still, the idea has, as they say, legs. The Scooby Doo movie was well received, and had a sequel. However, I understand that both the Yogi Bear and the Rocky and Bullwinkle films were miserably awful. What do we learn from this? You can satisfy some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t satisfy all of the people all of the time.
As I said, it can also happen that the story arc of a TV series wasn’t finished, so a movie gets made to do that, or to at least satisfy fans on certain points. I’m sure we can all think of series that fit this description, such as Dead Like Me, or Veronica Mars. The most important example for those of us in the Fantasy and SF community, however, is Firefly. If I remember it correctly, the movie Serenity wasn’t intended solely to answer the question “so what happened to these guys?” There was some hope, I believe, of a movie franchise.
That didn’t happen, but I don’t think any of us should abandon all hope. After all, look at The X-Files. Not only was this show followed by two movies, it also returned to television in the new “short season” format.
I’ll just touch on animated series that became animated movies. The two that come immediately to mind are South Park, and The Simpsons. Since the series are ongoing, I don’t think these are either remakes, or continuations. Rather, I think they’re extended versions of regular episodes.
One more thing: I can hear all of you thinking “But Star Trek!” I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, and we can talk franchises then.
Violette Malan is the author of the Dhulyn and Parno series of sword and sorcery adventures, as well as the Mirror Lands series of primary world fantasies. As VM Escalada, she writes the Faraman Prophecy series. Book Two, Gift of Griffins, is available for pre-order. Find Violette on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @VioletteMalan.