by Scott Oakes
A sequel isn’t always the road ahead for a critically approved, financially successful feature film. Many of our fondest pictures have made their way to television. With a Training Day series just starting and the Taken series on the horizon, take a look at our Top 10 Film to TV journeys.
1. Fargo, FX
The snowy setting of Minnesota has its murderous roots in the 1996 film of the same name. The film, by the Coen brothers, premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The television series came to FX in 2014 with the brothers serving as executive producers and Noah Hawley as showrunner. The series has showcased superb talents, including Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and in the upcoming third season, Ewan McGregor.
2. Bates Motel, A&E
A&E’s longest running original scripted drama had its fifth and final season premiere this February. The series serves as a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, Psycho and follows the lives of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) before the events of the film.
With Norman’s ‘mother’ persona threatening to take complete control in this final season, we are promised to bare witness to a violent, bloody end.
3. Westworld, HBO
Science fiction and Western aren’t genres you’d normally see intertwined but with HBO’s Westworld, it really works. Based on the 1973 film of the same name, the series takes place in the fictional Westworld, a western-style theme park populated by ‘hosts’ – essentially androids produced for the entertainment of the paying guests. The guests are able to indulge in their many fantasies, without fearing any retaliation – however, it isn’t quite as simple as that.
The first season tackled the possibility of the androids being more than just that and saw many characters clash on the handling of the park. Though, fans will need to wait until next year for a second season to answer those burning questions.
4. This Is England, Channel 4
The 2006 feature film drama focused on the skinhead subculture of 1983 and followed twelve year old Shaun, who meets a gang of young skinheads on his way home from school. Fans of the film will know the title is a direct reference to Combo’s nationalist speech of a bold and brash set of views resulting in the film’s central conflict.
The film spawned three television miniseries, each taking place with two years between them; 86, 88 and 90 with the returning cast from the film and aired on Channel 4.
5. Hannibal, NBC
Though not a direct adaptation of a film, Hannibal Lecter is a prominent name in our culture; a central character in the novels of Thomas Harris, played by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs and most recently by Mads Mikkelsen in NBC’s Hannibal.
The series follows FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) who is supervised by psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Unbeknownst to Will, Lecter is the cannibalistic killer we all know he is and Lecter takes advantage of his position to manipulate the FBI. The series ran for three critically acclaimed seasons before its cancellation due to declining ratings.
6. A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix
The most recent adaptation on our list found its home on Netflix. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf (played by Jim Carrey in the original film) and takes inspiration from the first four books of the series.
The outlandish visuals are impressive and at the heart of the overall appeal of the series. It is beautifully unique and has shown itself as a separate entity to the film. It’s fun, it’s over the top in the best possible way and it’s worth watching.
7. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The WB
Following the 1992 film of the same name, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) battled Vampires, dark forces and other miscellaneous monsters in the seven seasons it was on television.
So popular still, the story continued in comic book form in the years following its initial television run. Canonical, Season Eight debuted in 2007 with Dark Horse Comics and is now on to its Eleventh overall season.
8. Parenthood, NBC
This family centric drama is loosely based on the 1989 film of the same name and during its run it followed the Bravermans. Set in California, the series revolves around three generations. A particular point of interest of the series, gaining attention from critics and the press was the grandchild character Max, who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
The series came to its conclusion in 2015 after a critically successful run of six seasons, unfortunately however it never gained a strong audience and the ratings faced a gradual decline over the years.
9. Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Starz
Who doesn’t love a comedy horror? Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is back in this sequel to the original trilogy of Evil Dead films. Set thirty years after the events we last witnessed, we learn Ash has a now comfortable existence but that soon changes when he is thrust into becoming the hero we know. Once again, he must fight, the Evil Dead.
With a third season announced, the Evil Dead won’t go down without a fight.
10. Limitless, CBS
What if you could use 100% of your brain’s capacity? That’s what both Limitless the film and the TV series look at. The film follows uninspired writer/layabout Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) who is given the drug from his former brother-in-law. Although opening doors for him, the drug has adverse side effects damaging his health and mental state.
The television series followed Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), a failing musician who is not only given access to the brain changing drug NZT-48 but also an immunity shot to the side effects, courtesy of Morra himself. Sadly cancelled after just one season, it appears the series would have benefitted greatly by shifting Cooper’s character to series protagonist.