This Sunday, NBC unveils The Firm, its new law thriller based on the John Grisham book turned 1993 Tom Cruise movie of the same name. The show begins ten years after the movie left off, with Josh Lucas stepping into Cruise’s Mitch McDeere part. A decade on, McDeere, his wife, and child are just out of witness protection, but it doesn’t take long for McDeere to sign on with another firm — that also turns out to be horribly corrupt and dangerous! Bad law firm! Bad law firm! This reboot got us thinking: If it’s easier for NBC to sell a lawyer show with thriller elements by saying it’s based on a Tom Cruise movie than just starting from scratch, what other Cruise movies from The Firm era could also be repurposed for TV? Cocktail as a dark comedy, anyone?
A Few Good Men
Recap: In the script that really made Aaron Sorkin, Cruise played Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a smart aleck lawyer who defended two soldiers accused of murdering a weaker colleague in Guantánamo during a hazing ritual known as a “Code Red.” To get the soldiers acquitted (if dishonorably discharged), Kaffee had to face off with Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, who, while telling Kaffee he couldn’t “handle the truth,” admitted to ordering the Code Red.
Ten Years Later: Kaffee’s a fancy trial lawyer long since done with the military, until he starts investigating a convoluted murder case that leads back to a shady Blackwater-like corporation and the very rich defense subcontractor … Nathan R. Jessup.
Pitch: J.A.G, but with a mythology! The Firm but where the bad guy is the Army, not other lawyers!
Who Would Play Cruise: Matt Long, Matt Lauria
New Title: One Good Man
Far and Away
Recap: In this pretty epically misguided Ron Howard film, Cruise played Joseph Donnelly, a working-class Irish lad who comes to America in the 1890s with the hoighty-toighty Irish lass Shannon Christie, played by Nicole Kidman. (Tom and Nicole, R.I.P.) At the end of the film, Cruise almost dies staking a claim in the Oklahoma Territory, but comes back to life after Kidman tells him she loves him.
Ten Years Later: Having made a go of it in the Oklahoma territory, Joseph and Shannon and their adopted Native-American children fall on hard times. They decide to try to pick up and try again … in California.
Pitch: Hell on Wheels or Deadwood, but in California!
Who Would Play Cruise: Jamie Bamber
New Title: Further and Awayer or Due West
Days of Thunder
Recap: Cruise played Cole Trickle, a talented but reckless race car driver who tries to make it in NASCAR (and ends up sleeping with Nicole Kidman in the process) and eventually wins the Daytona 500.
Ten Years Later: After his early success, Trickle succumbed to his baser instincts and threw his talent away on drinks, girls, and stupid bets. Finally cleaned up, he is trying to start over.
Pitch: This! Or Lights Out with a race car driver!
Who Would Play Cruise: Josh Holloway, Cole Hauser, Paul Walker, or anyone associated with the Fast and Furious franchise.
New Title: Nights of Thunder, Racer
Recap: Cruise played Brian Flanagan, a flashy bartender on the make, who, after a series of poor relationship and business choices, finally got his life in as much order as his bottle skills. He ended the film married to rich girl Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), who was about to have twins, and as the proud owner of the fine establishment “Flanagan’s Cocktails & Dreams.”
Ten Years Later: Flanagan and Jordan didn’t make it and neither did his bar. Brian now dispenses wisdom bartending at someone else’s establishment, talking about his glory days, dreaming of making it big again, and still attractive enough to take drunk girls home.
Pitch: A depressing Cheers! A dark comedy about alcoholism that’s darker than the light comedy about alcoholism Are You There, Chelsea!
Who Would Play Cruise: Joe Manganiello, Jason Gedrick
New Title: Drink Up!, AA: Alcoholics Accepted
Recap: Cruise’s Charlie Babbitt, a slick car salesman, learns that he has an older brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), who both has autism and exceptional card-counting abilities. While using Raymond to make money, Charlie came to love him and ended the film promising Raymond he would visit him.
Ten Years Later: Charlie has not been entirely good to his word, and his relationship with Raymond hasn’t been maintained … until Raymond has to move in with Charlie and they start lucrative online gambling careers.
Pitch: Parenthood after Max grows up! Bones but about a guy!
Who Would Play Cruise: Josh Charles
New Title: Make It Rain, Man