And now for something completely pointless…
Sometimes, 100 minutes just isn’t enough time to tell an on-screen story. I tend to like creative, somewhat dark movies that take somewhat familiar concepts and manage to make them seem fresh and unique. For me, oft times the best parts about a movie are its background elements: the setting, the concepts, the characters. Honestly, so far as I’m concerned, the plot can suck so long as these other elements are in place. Sometimes I like the set-up for a film so much that I find myself disappointed the movie didn’t do MORE with it, and that’s where this idea originally sprang from.
So here is a short list of 10 films I think should have been made into regular ongoing TV shows. In some cases I think the show would actually be better than the film; in others, I just think the film presents a cool idea that could easily be developed into something bigger. Hell, I may even steal a few of these ideas for future writing projects (like I don’t have enough on my plate already).
[WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.]
The Matrix: Let’s face it – the concept behind The Matrix is amazing. Human freedom fighters living a miserable and hidden experience as they try to elude detection by a killer robotic authority, waging battle inside of a massive virtual reality program where even an average Joe can suddenly become Jet Li if they use the proper download…there’s so much material there it isn’t even funny.
Sadly, most people (myself included) agree that the Wachowski’s went in the wrong direction with their material after the first film. Unlike others, I don’t necessarily feel the second and third films were a complete waste of time, but most of what I liked about Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions were the sort of elements described above: the concepts, the characters, the ideas versus the actual plot or story execution. The albino twins, the Merovingian, Serif, Agent Smith’s possession of Bane…these would all make quality elements in a regular ongoing TV show, in which the crew of the Nebekenezzur goes on various strike missions, sometimes inside the Matrix, sometimes in the darkness of the real world, fighting an ongoing war against the machines. Whoa.
Yes, it’s a bit Battlestar Galactica meets Falling Skies. You telling me that would be a bad thing?
The Book of Eli/The Road Warrior: I love post-apocalyptic literature. But one thing we lack is a good post-apocalyptic show.
Both of these films featured solitary, somewhat emotionally distant protagonists wandering the ruined landscape of a once-bustling world. In the case of Book of Eli, the lone wolf hero was on a particular mission; in the Mad Max films, he was just surviving. Both scenarios are rife with story opportunities as the protagonist wanders the barren wastelands and meet strange individuals, go up against road mercenaries and cannibals, occasionally help communities (or not) and explore once proud places that have since been reduced to ruins.
Yes, it would be like the old Kung Fu show with David Carradine, only in the post-apocalyptic landscape. Yes, please.
Blade Runner: In Blade Runner, Rick Deckard is a cop who specializes in hunting down and exterminating Replicants, human-like androids whose superiority to their creators makes them a threat. Imagine a rain-soaked, film-noir style futuristic cop show, where Deckard (or a new character) tracks down Replicant fugitives in the seedy underbelly of a futuristic Los Angeles, sometimes going only with the barest of clues, fighting the PD Brass, working with criminals and making morally ambiguous choices to fulfill what is basically a life as an assassin.
I picture a Blade Runner show as sort of NYPD Blue or CSI in the future. And that would be awesome.
Big Trouble In Little China: Bear with me on this one…because we’d need a new title for this show. Maybe The Adventures of Jack Burton. Jack – our intrepid hero, a truck driver who only has a shred of common sense or actual ability, but who possesses an unlimited supply of bravery and stupid bravado – would run into all sorts of insane supernatural trouble as a truck driver. He’d be like a magnet for the impossible. Sure, it was ancient Chinese black magic and long-lost emperors in the film, but when he heads down to New Mexico maybe he’ll run into drug runners working for vampires, or over in the Bay Area he’ll encounter a secret cult trying to bring back Cthulu. Jack never intends to get into any trouble, but in true hero form he somehow blunders his way through.
(Lib actually made a comparison between this idea and the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon, wherein Jackie haplessly runs into all sorts of supernatural trouble working as an archaeologist for the government. Fun stuff.)
Inception: The notion of entering other people’s dreams to steal ideas is frightening, not to mention really, really cool. So long as some base rules of how the “intruder” interacts with the dreamscape (which Inception does, and very well), the possibilities are really quite endless, and, as with any show based around a crew or a team on assignment, there would be plenty of room for character development, especially when they infiltrate some dreams that maybe hit a little too close to home to personal fears or buried demons. So imagine Cobb’s crew from Inception breaking into different minds every week, stealing secrets, dealing with advanced security systems, going against rival teams, discovering things they shouldn’t, and dealing with real-world dangers just as terrifying as those in the dream realities. You’re talking cool stuff.
The tone would be a bit Person of Interest (not surprisingly, since that show was created by Jonathan Nolan, brother of Inception writer/direction Chris Nolan), mixed in with the vibe of good action/adventure shows like Burn Notice.
Vampires/From Dusk Till Dawn: When John Steakley’s excellent novel Vampire$ was under production, John Carpenter described it as “The Wild Bunch with vampires”. Sadly, the film didn’t exactly live up to the promise…and what promise it has. A show that follows the adventures of a group of hardened, anti-social, para-military vampire hunters as they trek across the American Southwest, facing off against vampires in their underground layers in gruff, 70s bloodbath Western style? Oh, HELL yeah. It’s The Unit meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Justified.
An alternate version would follow Seth Gecko (the psychotic criminal turned vampire killer of From Dusk Till Dawn) after he’s been marked for death by the vampires from the Titty Twister as they come gunning for revenge. In an ideal mash-up, Seth would join Team Crow (filling the Felix character’s spot, for those who might have actually read Steakley’s novel), at which point the show would ooze so much testosterone it would be banned in several states.
Inglorious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino himself stated that the earlier draft of his tongue-in-check, hyper-violent WWII adventure was much more centered on Aldo Rayne’s group of semi-psychotic, all-Jewish Nazi-hunting squad than the final version, and while I can’t actually envision a different route for the movie to have gone, I do think a regular weekly series following “Aldo the Apache”, “The Bear Jew”, Corporal Stiglitz, Lieutenant Archie Hickock and the rest of the gang as they engage in death-defying guerilla warfare against the Nazis would make for some raucous popcorn-munching entertainment. Yes, it would be a very strange hybrid between The A-Team and Band of Brothers, but then that’s sort of what the film feels like, anyways, so I think it would work.
Hancock: This is one example of a concept that didn’t really work as a film, but that I think would do fine as a show. Yes, the superhero thing has been done, but let’s be honest: Heroes suffered from never really knowing what it wanted to be, and the enormous cast made it hard to really focus and care too much about what was going on half of the time. And while Hancock was no literary milestone, the gritty film-making style and tongue-in-cheek sense of satirical humor would make for some great television as we watch an anti-social miscreant try to fit in on a planet that could really use some heroes. I’d be especially interested to see how a creative writing crew could come up with threats for Hancock to face when he was essentially invulnerable in what appeared to be a version of earth pretty much in line with our own. (The easiest answers would be aliens, other ancient threats hiding out in plain sight (much like he was), and maybe even one or more of his own kind coming to teach him a lesson…which, at least at some point in time, was rumored to be the plot for the sequel, but who knows).
Any I missed? What movies would you love to see more of that you think would make a great TV show?