Among the many new television shows generating buzz and garnering positive reviews this year is Fargo, a Coen brothers-produced series based on their Academy Award-winning film of the same name. Although Fargo features the same familiar snowbound Midwestern setting and gallows humor that made the 1996 movie a cult favorite with fans, the television show never feels like a rehash of the film.
“Neither prequel, sequel or remake, this ‘Fargo’ is instead a tonal accompaniment, a little more than kin, a little less than kind and a whole new breed of television,” wrote Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara. As seen in the trailer above, much of Fargo’s success comes from its eclectic cast of characters, played by stellar actors such as Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, and Allison Tolman. Fargo airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX.
While the popularity of Fargo may have more to do with its writers and actors than it does with its connection to a movie that was released 18 years ago, it should be noted that this is not the first time a movie has been transformed into a successful television show. Some of the best shows in the history of television were kicked off by movies, and several of these series even became more popular than their original source movies. Here are six successful television shows that were inspired by or based on films.
The title character in NBC’s Hannibal is based on the same cannibalistic serial killer played by Anthony Hopkins in films like The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon. The television show features renowned Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Laurence Fishburne as FBI agent Jack Crawford, and British actor Hugh Dancy as fellow FBI agent Will Graham.
The show has received mostly positive reviews and currently holds a 69 out of 100 Metascore rating from critic aggregator Metacritic. Hannibal started its second season this year on February 28 and will wrap up on May 23. The second season of Hannibal has also received positive reviews, and it currently has a 100 percent “certified fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Hannibal is on Fridays at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
2. Bates Motel
Like Hannibal, Bates Motel is a TV show based on a serial killer character who was first portrayed on the big screen. According to IMDb, Bates Motel is a “contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film ‘Psycho,’ and gives a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) psyche unravels through his teenage years.” The storyline of the television series focuses on Norman’s dysfunctional relationship with his mother and how it led him to become the disturbed killer who was chillingly portrayed by Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock’s original film and by Vince Vaughn in Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake.
The television series has received mostly favorable reviews from critics and currently holds an 86 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Bates Motel will wrap up its second season when the season finale airs on May 5 at 10 p.m. Eastern on A&E.
3. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Instead of taking inspiration from one film, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is based on several movies that flesh out the Marvel universe: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Thor. The television show is especially tied into the events depicted in Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Created and produced by Joss Whedon, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows the story of Phil Coulson, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who ostensibly died in the Avengers film. The show has gained increasing critical acclaim since its debut in September and currently has a 74 out of 100 Metascore rating from Metacritic. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Many fans of this long-running television show may have forgotten that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a movie before it became a highly successful television series. As he currently does with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Joss Whedon also created, wrote for, and produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer, according to IMDb. While the original film was only a moderate box office success, the television series was a runaway hit and had a total of seven seasons across six years, until 2003. Although this show has been off the air for more than 10 years, it still has a substantial cult following, and diehard fans can re-experience the show on Netflix.
5. Stargate SG-1
Like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stargate SG-1 may be another television series that eventually outshone the original film it was based on. While the 1994 sci-fi movie Stargate was a short-term commercial success, the Stargate SG-1 television series aired for an impressive 10 seasons, from 1997 to 2007. The success of the television show led to two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, as well as several direct-to-video films.
Based on the Robert Altman-directed film of the same name, the television series M*A*S*H went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed and groundbreaking shows in the history of TV. While both the 1970 film and the derivative television series are set in a “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” during the Korean War, the show debuted in 1972, when the Vietnam War was still ongoing and many of the issues raised in the show reflected contemporary tensions about the conflict. Featuring a core cast of Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher, the show aired a total of 11 seasons, from 1972 to 1983. As noted by IMDb, the show won an astounding number of awards across its run, including 14 Emmy Awards.
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