6 Movies that Worked Way Better as TV Series
Sometimes, a story that works well in one medium falls flat in another. To that end, the long-form storytelling of television and more concentrated narrative of film each present their own benefits. Whether a failed movie finds new life on TV or a show launches an unsuccessful bid for big-screen success, here are a few stories better suited to the small screen.
6. ‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ (2001)
This animated movie went up against Shrek and Monsters Inc. in the Academy Awards’ first-ever Best Animated Feature race. But while it was a decent box office hit, the story’s focus on a small-town alien invasion held it back from reaching its full potential.
The following year, Nickelodeon launched The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. And the show — which ran until 2006 — gave both the titular genius and his irreverent supporting cast a much better platform. It even led to a spin-off, Planet Sheen, which aired from 2010 to 2013.
5. ‘Masters of the Universe’ (1987)
Few animated series were as popular in the 1980s as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The show was based on Mattel’s toy line but became a big enough phenomenon to lead to a film adaptation. Unfortunately, the movie was a box office bomb, killing hopes for a sequel.
Now Netflix is bringing the franchise back in 2021 with Masters of the Universe: Revelation. Filmmaker Kevin Smith will direct the show, which will serve as a direct sequel to the original animated series. After all this time, He-Man found his way back to his roots.
4. ‘Wild Wild West’ (1999)
From 1965 to 1969, Robert Conrad and Ross Martin starred as Jim West and Artemus Gordon in this adventure series. The show notably combined sci-fi and Western elements to create something that felt entirely fresh to CBS audiences. Sadly, it didn’t translate well to the big screen.
Thirty years after the show ended, Will Smith and Kevin Kline played West and Gordon in a big-budget film. And the result was a critically maligned box office bomb that still stands as one of Smith’s most epic fails. Conrad even personally shared his displeasure with the mess the movie made.
3. ‘M*A*S*H’ (1970)
Author Richard Hooker based his M*A*S*H novel series on his own experiences. But the franchise grew much larger than his books. Following a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, Hooker’s original book was transformed into a hit 1970 film directed by Robert Altman.
But just two years later, M*A*S*H found even greater success on television. The TV version — which starred Alan Alda — ran for more than a decade. And when M*A*S*H finally did conclude its run, it did so with the most-watched series finale in television history.
2. ‘Westworld’ (1973)
Many fans of HBO’s current TV series might not even realize it’s based on a movie. In truth, Westworld began as a film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. The movie — which stars Yul Brynner — even led to a sequel titled Futureworld and a short-lived 1980 TV series.
But its legacy will likely be most closely tied to the HBO show going forward. Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the series features a stellar ensemble cast. And due to its multiple-season arc, the show has deepened the story and mythos Crichton created decades earlier.
1. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (1992)
Sarah Michelle Gellar will always be the first actress most people think of when it comes to Buffy Summers. But Kristy Swanson played the role first in this movie directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. Screenwriter Joss Whedon wasn’t pleased with the final cut, which dramatically changed his script.
So five years later, Whedon himself created the TV series that would turn Buffy the Vampire Slayer into a phenomenon. The show led to a spin-off, and the franchise expanded through comics, novels, and other expansions. Now a reboot is in development, albeit one which will honor the canon.