Word came last week that Napoleon Dynamite, the movie that annoyed the shit out of everyone seven years ago, will once again annoy the shit out of everything in 2012, thanks to Fox deciding that the world needs now is a Napoleon Dynamite TV series, instead of, y’know, another season of Running Wilde. In the list below are, with all due credit to Harry and the Hendersons and Clueless, nine movie-to-sitcom adaptations that took longer than the eight years it took Napoleon Dynamite to make onto the air (exceptions: I refrained from including animated TV shows based on animated movies, because there are so many (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, etc.) and then you get into the “Are Disney films comedies?” and that’s a conversation no one wants to have.)
Film: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
TV Show: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997)
Years Between: 8
It makes perfect sense that a TV network would be interested in trying to replicate the success of the Rick Moranis-starring movie and its sequels, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. What doesn’t make sense, to me at least, is that the show was live-action. If it had been animated, the Szalinski family could have gotten away with so many zany situations that our brains would have blown up (, honey). Still, the show, featuring Peter Scolari, was successful, running for 66 episodes over three seasons.
Film: Weird Science (1985)
TV Show: Weird Science (1994)
Years Between: 9
Although it’s one of three John Hughes’ movies to be made into a TV series, Weird Science is the only one that waited over eight years before doing so (sorry, Ferris Bueller and Uncle Buck). The reasoning for why it took so long to develop is unknown, but John Mallory Asher and Michael Manasseri make for enjoyable duo, even if they’re no Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (then again, who is?), and the worst thing about it is that the show tones down the films’ raunchy humor, in favorite of more traditional slapstick. Fun fact: John Hughes’ first writing credit is for Delta House, a TV remake of Animal House.
Film: MASH (1970)
TV Show(s): M*A*S*H (1972)/Trapper John, M.D. (1979)/AfterMASH (1983)
Years Between: 2/9/13
Also known as the Good (M*A*S*H), the Bad (Trapper John, M.D.), and the Oh My God What the Hell Is This Crap (AfterMASH). Sometimes you just have to ponder how we survive in a world where someone has the power to decide that what the entertainment-starved masses need is a pun-titled second sequel of a TV show based on a movie based on a book.
Film: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
TV Show: 10 Things I Hate About You (2009)
Years Between: 10
This one, however, I do get. A decade after Heath Ledger charmed both Julia Stiles and The World with his rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” ABC Family adapted the movie for a TV series, hoping to woo an entire new generation of teen girls (and me). The show starts…where the movie started, with feminist Kat acting too cool for school, before meeting the man of her dreams, now played by Ethan Peck. Larry Miller reprised his role as Kat and Bianca’s father, but not even he, the Larry Miller, could save the show from cancellation, after only 20 episodes.
Film: Friday (1995)
TV Show: Friday: The Animated Series (2007)
Years Between: 12
In the years between Friday and Friday: The Animated Series, Ice Cube went from being a straight-up badass to a snake-killing badass (Anaconda) to a sequel-starring badass (Next Friday) to a Mars-residing badass (Ghosts of Mars) to a second sequel-starring badass (Friday After Next) to a kind of, sort of, maybe-badass (XXX: State of the Union), to a not-at-all-bada*s (the kiddie-friendly Are We There Yet?). Friday: The Animated Series aired on MTV2 for only six episodes.
Film: Police Academy (1984)
TV Show: Police Academy: The Animated Series (1988)/Police Academy (1997)
Years Between: 4/13
“We live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well, I didn’t hear anybody laughing! Did you?! Except at that guy who made sound effects.” I use this gratuitous Simpsons reference for two reasons: 1) Because it’s a gratuitous Simpsons reference, and 2) Because the “guy who made sound effects,” Michael Winslow, was the only actor from the original Police Academy to have a recurring role on 1997’s Police Academy TV series, released three years after Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, the seventh and (hopefully!) not final film of the franchise. As for The Animated Series, I think that was just a Fat Boys-heavy fever dream America had from September 10, 1988-Septemer 2, 1989.
Film: Ghostbusters (1984)
TV Show: The Real Ghostbusters (1986)/ Extreme Ghostbusters (1997)
Years Between: 2/13
The voice cast of The Real Ghostbusters, which ran for 147 animated episodes, was just as wonderfully random as the show itself: Lorenzo Music (the voice of Garfield) and, later, Full House’s Dave Coulier as Peter Venkman; Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker) as Egon Spengler; Frank Welker (Nibbler) as Ray Stantz and Slimer; and Arsenio Hall as Winston Zeddemore. While Extreme Ghostbusters also had some interesting voice cast decisions, like making Billy West Slimer, it was tough to look past the show’s plot, about a group of young Ghostbusters led by Spengler. Here’s hoping Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis aren’t too inspired by anything this Extreme when they finally start making the third Ghostbusters film.
Film: Spaceballs (1987)
TV Show: Spaceballs: The Animated Series (2008)
Years Between: 21
Spaceballs: The Animated Series, based on the 1987 Star Wars-parodying film of the same name, is actually the last major, non-Broadway project Mel Brooks has worked on to date (unless you count voicing “The Angry Cat” on The Paul Reiser Show). It’s no wonder, too: the show was a huge mess, with G4, where it was set to air, missing schedule deadlines, and it was broadcast in Canada before it finally arrived in the United States, in September 2008. The series only lasted for 13 episodes, which is probably for the best: otherwise, how would we have ever heard the wisdom of “The Angry Cat.”
Film: Sitting Pretty (1948)
TV Show: Mr. Belvedere (1985)
Years Between: 37
To put this into terms we can understand: let’s say a current producer wants to give Melissa McCarthy’s character from Bridesmaids, Megan, her own spin-off, but said producer wants to go the Mr. Belvedere route and wait nearly four decades for the show to air on TV. Meaning, viewers wouldn’t get to see One Meg Up until 2048, which is, according to Wikipedia, a leap year.
Author Gwen Davenport created the Mr. Belvedere character in her 1947 novel, Belvedere (I am going to explode the Google Alert for “Belvedere”), which was created into a feature-film, Sitting Pretty, a year later. The mysterious sort of-butler appeared in two more movies, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (sadly, Mr. Belvedere Goes to Summer Camp remains unmade), and although multiple TV pilots were written over the years, none landed until the 1980s, when ABC took a shot and got six seasons of material out of a character who first appeared in the public consciousness when Harry Truman was president.
Josh Kurp thinks the year 2048 is going to be awesome.