Serenity Now-- It's TV.COM's rundown of television-to-movie conversions

By Colin Mahan

Aug 04, 2005

The Dukes of Hazzard is the latest in a long and illustrious line of television shows that have been ported over to the big screen. Television shows being turned into movies used to be a novelty; now, it's a necessity. With spiraling budgets and jaded audiences, Hollywood is searching for surefire hits. Sometimes it works. Other times, it's The Mod Squad.

Cartoons from the 1980s are the "vein du jour" for filmmakers. Hong Kong action guru John Woo is prepping a megabudget He-Man starring Sex and the City's Jason Lewis as the blonde, leather-clad sword-wielder who's "got the power." Recently, N.E.R.D. front man Pharrell Williams announced he is producing and scoring a big-screen treatment of the pre-Power Rangers cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe. In the "you can't get any bigger than this" category, megamoguls Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay will team up for The Transformers. Going in the opposite direction, Nickelodeon is putting together an animated movie about the little blue guys, The Smurfs. The blue creatures were the cartoon toast of the '80s, running for eight years and producing over 400 smurfy episodes. Finally, Steve Guttenberg, Lee Majors, and Sally Struthers are starring in a puppet version of The GoBots. Not really, but just imagine.

It's not just cartoons that are being lavished with big-budget love--live-action properties are also getting ready for their close-ups.

Perennial career-rehabber Colin Farrell and Stealth rebounder Jamie Foxx will pair up for a big-screen Miami Vice, the '80s cop show that convinced men it was okay to wear shows with no socks. Original series creator Michael Mann will be on board as writer and director, so it will be interesting to see how the pastel and stucco landscape of Florida looks when viewed through his lens, 20 years later. Farrell has had some success in the TV-to-movie arena before, with S.W.A.T. grossing over $100 million, but both of the actors could use a hit. Farrell was last seen in the megabomb Alexander, and the Foxx's Stealth is currently sinking fast at the box office.

Joss Whedon's cult sci-fi series Firefly, which had its light snuffed out midway through its first season, is also appearing as a film this summer. Titled Serenity, it continues the adventures of stern-faced Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds as he pilots the spaceship "Serenity" across the galaxy, eluding the evil Alliance. Could it spawn a movie series a la Star Trek?

It doesn't stop there: Kate Hudson in I Dream of Jeannie and The Wayans brothers' remake of The Munsters are just two of the tv-to-movie conversion on the boards.

Good or bad, hits or flops, these films will join a proud family of television to movie ports: The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, Scooby Doo, Dragnet, The Addams Family, Fat Albert, Lost In Space, and countless others. After they appear in theaters amid a flurry of marketing hype, these products will return to television via DVD, and possibly a new series, and the circle of life will continue.

Which one will be the next Fugitive (yay), and which one will be the next Bewitched (yikes)? More importantly, when will Knight Rider get a movie?

Tell us what you think!

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  • sagunnels Dec 01, 2005

    I truly enjoyed Serenity and am looking forward to the DVD. It's one that we will probably be watching quite often

  • tvdir Aug 21, 2005

    I also don't see "Serenity" as the same television-to-movie conversions as "Miami Vice," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Brady Bunch" and "Lost in Space." "Firefly" wasn't a "household" name as the previously mentioned TV shows. The series didn't make it as a TV show (unfortunately); the movie is really a second chance. "Serenity" is more like the "Naked Gun" films, which was based on a cancelled, short-lived TV series "Police Squad." Looking forward to Serenity!

  • dacaria Aug 20, 2005

    Yet more proof that Hollywood has no originality. They've run out of movie scripts so they turn to resurrecting old TV shows that most likely died for good reasons. Granted, I think Serenity should be given a chance since I like a sense of closure to Whedon's "Firefly," but to revamp into movies such things as "The Munsters" and "I Dream of Jeannie". . . dream on.

  • paulcornelius Aug 10, 2005

    And people wonder why movies such as The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, the Godfather films, Papillon, Marathon Man, French Connection, Night Moves, Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter aren't made these days! The nitwits now in Hollywood consider trash Dukes of Hazzard, The Munsters, Lost in Space, and cartoons--CARTOONS!!!!--as classics to build on?????

  • MrJayneCobb Aug 08, 2005

    Most of these shows were off the air long before the movie was made, and the movies had a completely new cast. Serenity has the same cast as Firefly the same production.

    Should be a hit. If they advertised the series as much as they're promoting the movie, it might still be on the air.

  • ellewiz Aug 06, 2005

    This is what happens when Gen X-ers get old enough to make movies. Since FIREFLY never really got a chance on TV, I'm not counting SERENITY in the same vein as DUKES OF HAZZARD.

  • rsloane Aug 05, 2005

    all these shows were out at a time when the bar was pretty darn low for tv - i.e. pre-HBO. I mean, I know certain parts of the garbage can be recycled, but I thought it was only supposed to be the good stuff. These shows should go to landfill....

  • freaksngeeks Aug 05, 2005

    Firefly is amazing- the movie looks great- I'm personally waiting for Tales Of The Gold Monkey the Movie. It'll be a long wait.