21 Jump Street arrives in theaters this week, and unlike many of the big-screen adaptations of television series we've seen lately, early word on this one indicates that it's actually, well... good.
Hopefully it's a sign that the dark days of bad movies based on classic TV shows are behind us. With that in mind, here are 21 more TV shows -- both old and new -- that could make great movies.
The show that launched the careers of both J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner, “Alias” was a critical darling and a fan-favorite series that followed CIA Agent Sydney Bristow as she went undercover in various identities and struggled to retain some normalcy in her life outside work. Now that studios are beginning to look a little more kindly on female-led action films, there's no reason why an adaptation of “Alias” -- preferably with Abrams at the helm -- shouldn't get its time to shine.
Vampires are still hot in Hollywood, so there's still time to bring the brooding bloodsucker detective from Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff back to the big screen. Pegging its lead with the double whammy of being a vampire with a soul and a curse that makes him avoid committed relationships, "Angel" walked the fine line between an action-oriented show for the male demographic and a darker, sexier series for the Buffy crowd.
Anyone else feel like 30-minute doses of "Archer" just aren't enough? In fact, given the massive popularity of this animated series about the colorful cast of characters at an international spy agency, a 90-minute Archer movie could give James Bond some healthy competition -- or at the very least, Jason Bourne. Much like the South Park movie, an Archer feature film would be adults-only fare that makes its audience feel like kids again.
We've been burned before by Arrested Development movie rumors, so we're not going to believe this film is happening unless we're actually in the audience, watching it. Until that happens, consider this yet another plea to put the Bluth family on the big screen.
We're still smarting from the cancellation of David Milch's gritty Western series, but we're happy to let bygones be bygones if we get to see Ian McShane bring tough-talking saloon owner Al Swearengen to the big screen. Heck, with some clever writing, a feature film could easily exist as a standalone Western that holds its own against any of the recent films in that genre.
Sure, this wildly popular series about a serial killer who kills serial killers is still on the air, but with a premise this good, why not get things rolling now? While the TV series has evolved independently of its source material, Jeff Lindsay's novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," a feature film could offer a more straight-up adaptation of Lindsay's award-winning story.
Doogie Howser, M.D.
The story of a teenager who's so smart he becomes a doctor at age 16, “Doogie Howser” is the sort of the adaptation that could go any number of ways on the big screen, whether as a straight-up comedy like 21 Jump Street or a more faithful translation that blends comedy and drama in a clever coming-of-age story. No matter how it's handled, a cameo by original star Neil Patrick Harris is an absolute necessity.
"Fantasy Island" told the story of a mysterious island where visitors can live out their fantasies and the enigmatic caretaker who helps the island's guests find what they're looking for -- and in some cases, escape from it with their lives. Given that premise, it's hard to argue with the big-screen potential for this series, which famously featured Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo, an assistant to the mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalbán).
This might sound crazy, but given all of the much-criticized padding that went into several seasons of this hit TV series, it's not completely off-base to think that the story could be condensed into a single feature film. The Lost movie would begin with the passengers of Oceanic 815 waking up on a strange island, and end with them realizing whatever it is they realized at the end of the series. Heck, maybe we can get some answers in the movie that we didn't get in the series finale.
Seriously, why hasn't there been a Magnum P.I. movie yet? (Rumors once had Ashton Kutcher starring as the mustached private eye.) One of the highest rated shows in television history, this series about a detective living in Hawaii was the spiritual successor to “Hawaii 5-0” and launched the career of Tom Selleck. If any series could get away with a tongue-in-cheek adaptation it's "Magnum P.I.," which never hesitated to make the occasional, clever wink and nod to its audience over the series' eight-year run.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
In this classic series from the '60s, an American secret agent and a Russian secret agent work together to thwart the diabolical machinations of a criminal organization that poses enough of a threat to make international squabbles seem irrelevant. As a feature film, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. could hit that sweet spot for audiences looking for something more serious than "Get Smart" but lighter than the James Bond and Jason Bourne movies.
This series plays fast and loose with Arthurian legend, casting the well-known residents of Camelot as teenagers well before they were household names. A feature film based on the series could hope to tap that elusive overlap between the audiences for young-adult programming and sword-and-sworcery adventures with a talented cast of up-and-coming actors.
We're not sure exactly how this surreal, sci-fi drama that blended elements of spy fiction with psychological twists should be adapted for the big screen, but we know we want to see it. In fact, that's a little like the show itself, which defied description during its late-'60s run. The original series cast Patrick McGoohan as a secret agent who finds himself imprisoned on a strange island after he tried to leave his job. Keep the mysterious mood and give the effects some modern-day polish, and you have a fascinating feature film in the making.
This sci-fi series about a man leaping through time to inhabit different people's bodies and right wrongs throughout history was a massive hit during the early '90s, and even inspired a few "Quantum Leap"-themed conventions. It's not much of a leap in logic to think it would find similar success on the big screen -- which is probably why series star Scott Bakula hinted back in 2010 that series creator Donald Bellisario was working on a feature film.
Offering a fresh spin on the classic American Western, "Rawhide" followed a group of cattle drivers as they made their across the country and starred Clint Eastwood as the aptly named Rowdy Yates, the young, impetuous partner of veteran driver Gil Favor (Eric Fleming). A big-screen take on the series could bring Eastwood back as an older and wiser Yates, with an up-and-coming actor as his new partner for one last cattle drive.
Giant robots? Check. Romance? Check. Aliens? Check. Complicated characters with genuine emotions who are just trying to stay alive, find love, and die happy in a dangerous world? Check, check, and check. Often described as a "space opera," this animated series has everything a studio could want from summer blockbuster. Now if someone could just get around to making it.
The Scarecrow and Mrs. King
In this '80s series, Kate Jackson played a divorced housewife who gets caught up in the world of international espionage after a brief encounter with secret agent Lee "Scarecrow" Stetson (Bruce Boxleitner) in a train station. She eventually ends up working for the top-secret organization and learns about the spy world as Stetson's partner and -- you guessed it -- love interest. If this doesn't have "romantic action-adventure" written all over it, we're not sure what does.
The Six Million Dollar Man
The story of Steve Austin, a former astronaut who receives cybernetic implants after his body is damaged in a terrible accident, "The Six Million Dollar Man" might need some story tweaks to account for the rise and fall of the dollar's value, but otherwise this sci-fi adventure seems long overdue for the big screen. Given our society's reliance on so many gadgets these days, there's a great cultural angle to be mined in a modern-day adaptation of this series.
Sons of Anarchy
Take the best parts of mob movies and great crime fiction, make the principal cast of characters an outlaw motorcycle club instead of mafia, and inject a dose of Shakespeare into the mix for some thematic flair. That's the formula that made "Sons of Anarchy" the hit it is right now, and there's no reason that same formula wouldn't work on the big screen. Gritty, tense, and packed with great characters, "Sons of Anarchy" could herald the return of biker films in Hollywood.
We've seen lots of movies that dramatize the behind-the-scenes action in the government and mainstream news, but what about sports reporting? Aaron Sorkin used "Sports Night" to experiment with many of the elements that made The West Wing such a hit, but when it came time to choose between the two programs, his clever take on the sports media met its end. A feature film based on “Sports Night” could do for sports reporters what Jerry Maguire did for sports agents.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The cast of the original "Star Trek" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" both had their time on the big screen, so what about the “Deep Space Nine” crew? Regarded by many fans as one of the best iterations of the franchise, "Deep Space Nine" still failed to get its own movie. Despite the Star Trek reboot, is a Deep Space Nine movie entirely out of the question?
What TV show do you think would make a great movie?
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