The Mission Impossible movies are still kicking box-office ass, at least judging from Ghost Protocol's IMAX limited opening. This is kind of a miracle, since most movies based on TV shows fall flat. (Like the Ralph Fiennes Avengers, Lost in Space, Land of the Lost, Thunderbirds, Bewitched, etc.) Even when a TV-show-turned-movie rules (Serenity) it doesn't always hit big.
Some TV shows are just better suited to movie adaptations than others. Here are 10 classic science fiction and fantasy shows that not only rule, but could rock the cinemas. Oh, and by "classic," we mostly mean "no longer on the air." Hence, no Supernatural or Fringe.
Disclaimer: Whenever we do a list like this, it's always worth repeating: We wish Hollywood would do more original projects that aren't based on any existing properties. Or more book adaptations. Still, if Hollywood insists on recycling, these are some options we'd actually quite like to see. With that said, here's the list...
1. The Tick Ben Edlund won our hearts with this weird superhero spoof, which started as a weird feature in a comic book store's newsletter before becoming a TV cartoon and then a live-action show. The Tick is as valiant as he is self-unaware, and his hapless sidekick Arthur has to try and keep him on the right path, as the city echoes with cries of "Spoooooon!" With superhero movies multiplying like radioactive bunnies, the time is right for our greatest — and silliest — hero to come back once again.
2. Blake's 7 This dirt cheap British TV series about revolutionaries and criminals fighting an evil empire in space deserves a new lease on life, somehow. (There was talk of a new TV revival, but it appears to have fallen through.) Cynical, brutal, dystopian and swashbuckling, this show still thrills — if you can see past the horrible special effects and occasional over-acting. A movie version could distill a lot of what made B7 a classic into one potent jolt of awesomeness, and the role of the misanthropic nerd Avon could be some lucky actor's defining moment.
3. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Okay, so it's not as if we're suffering from a lack of Star Trek movies, and J.J. Abrams is already feverishly at work on another one. But some of us are still smarting with the unfairness that The Next Generation got to have four exercises in the law of diminishing returns, and Deep Space Nine got... bupkus at the movies. And Deep Space Nine was really something special — we've had a lot of conversations about it lately, as people remember just how great this show could be. We want to see what happened with the Dominion and Cardassia and Bajor after the show ended... and just what the heck was going on with Obi Wan Sisko.
4. The Jetsons The first Flintstones live-action movie made a quazillion dollars, even though nobody really liked it. Of course, that was a different era, but you could still imagine a live-action or CG-animated Jetsons scoring as a fun summer kids' movie. Go for a slightly lighter tone than Despicable Me, and maybe actually get Steve Carrell to play George Jetson. It could be a fascinating, fun mixture of retro-futurism and actual futurism, celebrating the optimism of our parents and grandparents while hinting that the future could still be just that shiny.
5. The Greatest American Hero There's been talk of a Greatest American Hero movie for years now, but it seems to be going nowhere. Too bad — in the right hands, the story of a well-meaning teacher who becomes a bumbling superhero could be total box office gold. Similar to The Tick, this could be a fun antidote to the excessively self-serious tributes to comic book icons of all our youth. And like Blake's 7, this is a TV show that hasn't aged all that well, so a new movie version could actually be an improvement in some ways. If it's done right, which is always the big question.
6. Mork and Mindy Another great comedy, with a simple premise: a wacky alien comes and lives among us, and befriends one lucky Earth woman. We can get a porno parody of this show — I have the screener DVD but haven't been able to bring myself to watch it — so why can't we get an actual movie? It could be a zany romcom and a tale of first contact rolled into one, with lots of room for alien slapstick and finger-drinking. There's something about falling in love with an alien that we need more of — especially if it's actually funny.
7. Space: 1999 This is another show I've had lots of conversations about lately. It's such a silly concept — the Moon has an explosion so powerful, it propels our only natural satellite to a bunch of other planets in rapid succession. And yet, there's something wonderful about the way this show blended horror, suspense and space opera. It was space horror before Alien. You could go a few ways with a movie version — for example, you could make it a disaster movie, as the people on the Moonbase struggle to get the Moon back into orbit before Earth is trashed. Or you could make it just a base on an asteroid or outer planetoid, that falls into a wormhole. But heck, you could also just go for it, and have the Moon somehow become our first faster-than-light vessel, and show the crew of the Moonbase confronting something trippy and insane and ultra-scary. All while knowing that back on Earth, tons and tons of people are probably dead.
8. Xena: Warrior Princess We need more Xena in our lives. But a movie version should be based of the Xena of the first three seasons, not so much the travesty that followed. What was great about this show was the way it blended Clash of the Titans-style silly mythology with a pop-savvy self-awareness. And Xena herself has a great backstory that could be brought to the foreground — she starts out as a baddie, and then reforms and travels around helping people to make amends. She's like a mythical, female Batman. And co-creator Sam Raimi could direct! Tell me you wouldn't watch the heck out of that.
9. Max Headroom This show finally came out on DVD recently — minus some of the original British stuff — and it's easy to see that we're living in the world Max Headroom predicted. This show was so prescient, it kinda hurts. But even if this show has kind of come true, there's still loads of room for a movie that explores the notion of a reporter who gets a smart-alecky cyber alter ego. And all of the stuff about corporations controlling the news, and journalism becoming more extreme and stunt-driven? That might just strike a chord with audiences today. Max could be bigger than ever, if the right people made a movie version.
10. Jericho Maybe we're cheating by including such a recent show — but we really want more of our post-apocalyptic Kansas nightmare, especially given how insane the short second season was. This show was evolving from a folksy story of small-town people coming together and trying to survive after a nuclear holocaust, into a tense spy thriller about corporate psychopaths and right-wing extremists trying to take over our country, and there was still plenty of story left to tell about what happened next. We know, there are comics and stuff — but we want to see the explosions and civil war happening in live action. You could craft a movie version so that people who never saw the show wouldn't even need to know there'd been a show — but it could also satisfy those of us who've been waiting years for a continuation.
We're barely scratching the surface here — for example, this list leaves out Bionic Woman and Babylon 5. What are the classic TV shows you'd like to see get a movie?