View Full Version : MediaSharX: Boob Tube: It's The Pictures That Got Small

July 20th, 2004, 01:16 PM
From MediaSharX:


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Boob Tube: It's The Pictures That Got Small
by Tara O'Shea

In the last decade, the big screen has revisited a lot of the small screen's hits—from THE BRADY BUNCH to LOST IN SPACE to STARSKY & HUTCH—with varying success. But the small screen has long had a tradition of mining the movies for series, also with scatter-shot results. A hit movie will not always have a premise which lends itself to television as a medium, as stories originally told in two hours may not fare well, when stretched over a 22 episode season. But when the characters and premise work, they can work extraordinarily well, adding dimension and depth to the original source material. M.A.S.H. the series is a global phenomenon, much better known to most audiences than the film that spawned it. And, in cases like STARGATE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, actually take a mediocre film and turn it into a successful series.

One thing that seems abundantly clear is that since M.A.S.H., there seems to be more success with genre adaptations than sitcoms. While DIRTY DANCING, WORKING GIRL, and MY BIG FAT GREEK LIFE failed to make it past their original 13 episode commitments, the hour-long scripted action/adventure series STARGATE SG-1 has just entered its eighth season—and shows few signs of fatigue. BUFFY spawned a franchise that may include a second spin-off in the form of TV movies, if the WB gets its way. The cult film HIGHLANDER spawned not one, but two television series, and made a global action star of THE COLBY's Adrian Paul. NIKITA, based on the 1990 Luc Besson espionage thriller of the same name, comes in close, with five seasons under its belt. However, series such as THE NET, and STARMAN were each cancelled after one season.

NIKITA, STARGATE, and STARMAN each updated and adapted their stories and characters, as they made the transition from big screen to small. Anne Parillaud's Nikita was an almost feral, wild animal whose drug-crazed murder of two cops sent her into the clandestine world of the Section, which took a junkie and turned her into a trained assassin. However, Peta Wilson's take on the character was more sympathetic and appealing—she was framed for the crime for which she was sentenced. This was a wise choice on the part of the writing staff, to sustain a character arc over multiple seasons by forcing an innocent girl to become a killer. However, in the end, the series abandoned the original premise of the film so completely that the source material was almost completely unrecognisable. The final demi-season, which featured THE EQUALIZER's Edward Woodward as Nikita's long-lost father, was actually the result of fan outcry at the series cancellation, and piece by piece dismantled the original premise—that Nikita was an innocent street kid framed for murder.

STARGATE also made a few adjustments—from the Goa'uld as an empire of malevolent symbiots (in the film, Ra was a grey-skinned alien, and the last of a dying race), to Jack O'Neill going from a suicidal father in mourning for his son to Richard Dean Anderson's less tortured Jack as a poster child for ADD. Taking Jackson and O'Neill from the film, the series added original characters Samantha Carter, and the alien Teal'c, and fleshed out the universe to include aliens masquerading not just as Egyptian deities, but also Norse, Celtic, and Asian gods. For many, SG-1 has even far surpassed the original film in popularity (despite a Shau'ri cast less for her acting than her impressive and expensive rack). A rare success story, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's 1994 film has spawned a genuine franchise with the launch of a spin-off, STARGATE ATLANTIS. Whether ATLANTIS will share SG-1's longevity, or join HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN as a "one season wonder" has yet to be seen.

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What's on the Boob Tube This Week:

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Friday 7/23: After losing Janet Fraiser last season, SG-1 gets a new doctor (Alisen Down) whose first order of business is to figure out why the heck members of the SGC are going nuts and pulling guns on people. Then the STARGATE ATLANTIS crew continue to explore the "lost" city but get a nasty shock when they discover the city holds some surprises in the form of a black cloud. Also, McKay just isn't feeling special, so he tries to tinker with his genes.

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That's it for this week. Have gripes, kudos, questions or suggestions? Bite back in the forums!

TV editor for MediaSharx, Tara O'Shea had a big, big crush on C.B. Barnes when she was 14.




Richard Dean Anderson Fans

July 20th, 2004, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the post. It would have been nice if they talked about STARGATE more, and not Highlander.

July 20th, 2004, 01:23 PM
"to Jack O'Neill going from a suicidal father in mourning for his son to Richard Dean Anderson's less tortured Jack as a poster child for ADD."