Five TV Shows Actually Worth Bringing to the Big Screen

Here are some other shows from our youth we'd like to see morph into theaters

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producerschair 3 Five TV Shows Actually Worth Bringing to the Big ScreenWelcome to Producer’s Chair, a mini-column in which Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman offers his own career advice to artists and various figureheads in the film and music industry. In this installment, contributing writer Jake Kilroy plots out the leap from small screen to silver screen for five of his favorite old television shows. 

The Power Rangers are hitting the big screen for the first time since the ‘90s, and it’s kind of surreal for someone who watched the original series. I was in grade school then and into pretty much anything with a battle of good vs. evil. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was fun, colorful, and, in retrospect, cheesy, which was totally in line with tastes back in the day. Obviously, much has since changed in American entertainment, so this reboot, tightened to just Power Rangers, is clearly aiming for a slicker approach.

But doesn’t that make you wonder about other favorite shows of yesteryear? Isn’t everyone curious to see how beloved television programs of the late 20th Century might turn out if produced these days? Just because a TV show suited a certain era doesn’t mean it can’t work just as well in modern culture. Truly, if something is good enough, a vibrant adaptation can satisfy the demographic that originally loved it while attracting new fans.

Well, my mind wandered down such a curious path, and so I put together proposed casts and plots for five film adaptations of my favorite shows that went off the air a long time ago. Ready? And break!

power rangers Five TV Shows Actually Worth Bringing to the Big Screen

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Night Court

night court Five TV Shows Actually Worth Bringing to the Big Screen

Last Aired: May 31, 1992

Network: NBC

Original Cast:

  • Harry Anderson as Judge Harold “Harry” T. Stone
  • John Larroquette as Reinhold Daniel “Dan” Fielding
  • Richard Moll as Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon
  • Markie Post as Christine Sullivan
  • Charles Robinson as Macintosh “Mac” Robinson
  • Marsha Warfield as Rosalind “Roz” Russell

Previously on…

Night Court was a screwball sitcom with a good heart, seemingly as rooted in the mundane real world as it was total absurdity. Like Cheers, it was hard not to wish you were around these types of do-gooders, ranging from jovial to gruff. They seemed inherently grounded in nature, yet surrounded by the oddest characters that New York City had to offer. Decades later, with surrealism having found a place in TV shows and absurdism driving much of film comedy for more than a decade, it’s time to give the characters of Night Court a place on the big screen in an all-new adventure.

Proposed Film Cast

Existing Characters:

  • John Mulaney as Judge Harold “Harry” T. Stone
  • Rob Corddry as Reinhold Daniel “Dan” Fielding
  • Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon
  • Constance Wu as Christine Sullivan
  • Taye Diggs as Macintosh “Mac” Robinson
  • Leslie Jones as Rosalind “Roz” Russell

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New Characters:

  • Patton Oswalt as Colton Slade
  • Kate McKinnon as Detective Harper Kavanagh
  • Aparna Nancherla as Detective Rathi Sahgal
  • Fred Armisen as Robert “Rob” Ot

In Theaters Everywhere

The reason Night Court worked so wonderfully was because it gleefully reveled in its absurdity and hijinks. The characters were good-natured and open-minded, so it left them rather open to the idea of … well, pretty much anything. With them working the graveyard shift at Manhattan’s Criminal Court Part 2, they got away with a lot more than they should have protocol-wise, and Judge Stone was allowed to be significantly more unorthodox in his courtroom rule. Besides, it was nothing but petty crimes with zany supporting characters anyway.

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What’d make the most sense in a feature-length adaptation is placing them in the public eye with a wild case. They’d need to fly by the seat of their pants, since their cozy level of comfort wouldn’t translate to film. Say a mysterious higher-up in the Manhattan legal system gave Stone and his crew a moving violation that turned out to be the grand theft auto of notable cinematic cars — everything from Bullitt’s 1968 Ford Mustang to Knight Rider’s KITT to Midnight in Paris’ 1928 Peugeot Type 184 Landaulet, which Shannon would obviously believe is a legitimate time machine. Keep it at night, but make it the trial of the year. Add in two trope-inspired detectives, one way too intense and the other entirely apathetic; throw in one character that makes Stone’s big-screen courtroom seem as adjacent to reality as his small-screen courtroom (an android fall guy as the patsy defendant). Boom, you have a Night Court movie.

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Bonanza

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Last Aired: January 16, 1973

Network: NBC

Original Cast:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright
  • Mitch Vogel as Jamie Hunter/Cartwright
  • David Canary as Candy” Canaday
  • Tim Matheson as Griff King
  • Victor Sen Yung as Hop Sing
  • Ray Teal as Sheriff Roy Coffee

Previously on…

Bonanza was one hell of a western. Unlike similar shows in that category, the Cartwright saga was more about relationships than scenery. It focused on the family members and how they interacted with each other, learning or teaching others right from wrong. While there was typical western gun action, its heart beat strongest for the chance to observe how the Cartwright men would deal with their problems, whether it was villainous vagabonds or projects around the homestead. It had a moral compass set amid the open west, and it’d be good to see the family in action again in order to teach a new generation what it means to be tough and just.

Proposed Film Cast

Existing Characters:

  • Denzel Washington as Ben Cartwright
  • Mahershala Ali as Adam Cartwright
  • LeBron James as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright
  • Michael B. Jordan as Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright
  • Tyler James Williams as Jamie Hunter/Cartwright
  • Donald Glover as “Candy” Canaday
  • Jesse Williams as Griff King
  • Donnie Yen as Hop Sing
  • Dennis Quaid as Sheriff Roy Coffee

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New Characters:

  • Willem Dafoe as Clay Knight
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Finn Damgaard
  • Ezra Miller as Quentin Knight
  • Bill Skarsgård as Kasper Damgaard

In Theaters Everywhere

Bonanza was at its best when it focused on the family. Sure, that was technically every episode, but their conversations revealed a great deal about their balance of warmth and strength (and sometimes fury). Although the Cartwright men and their friends dealt with everything from running errands to getting into shootouts, we were able to see them help one another the same way they helped others. We witnessed them in their element in so many different interpretations, and even at their most peaceful, they were riveting folks. Alas, we can’t watch the Cartwrights take care of their beloved Ponderosa Ranch for a full movie. We need action.

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I say we introduce some outlaws that the Cartwrights have a past with. For contrast, let’s give the outlaws sons of their own. Bonanza was light, but a contemporary adaptation may require some gravitas, so let’s also make these two outlaw fathers responsible for the death of the Cartwrights’ wife and mother, Marie. However, we’ll need to set it all up. So the Cartwrights head into Virginia City for a feed run, among other tasks, and find the town overrun with young outlaws. The Cartwrights get into several fights sticking up for local harassed citizens, and the sheriff runs off the bad guys. The outlaws promise revenge on their way out. A day or two later, the sheriff shows up to the ranch in order to warn the Cartwrights that the outlaws they encountered, in fact, answer to the two men who killed Marie in a botched cattle raid at the Ponderosa years ago. They’re now hiding out in the pines to the north of the Cartwrights’ 600,000+ acres. Ben rallies his sons and ranch hands, as the men of Virginia City show up in droves to help them. Together, they ride off and we see the Cartwrights bond with the locals and each other. Eventually, there’s an insane shootout and the outlaws get what’s coming to them.

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Golden Girls

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Last Aired: May 9, 1992

Network: NBC

Original Cast:

  • Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak
  • Betty White as Rose Nylund
  • Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux
  • Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo
  • Don Cheadle as Roland Wilson (from spin-off The Golden Palace)
  • Cheech Marin as Chuy Castillos (from spin-off The Golden Palace)

Previously on…

The Golden Girls celebrated age as wisdom and experience and considered youth to be a state of mind. Given the existence of the Bechdel Test and the fact that thick-pieces are still being written about the ageist nature of Hollywood, the show was arguably ahead of its time and undoubtedly good at what it set out to accomplish. It’s found a following some decades later, with younger post-audiences enchanted by its sass and optimism. Above all else, though, it was funny. Let’s give the Golden Girls a chance for new antics!

Proposed Film Cast

Existing Characters:

  • Helen Mirren as Dorothy Zbornak
  • Alfre Woodard as Rose Nylund
  • Meryl Streep as Blanche Devereaux
  • Betty White as Sophia Petrillo
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Roland Wilson
  • Al Madrigal as Chuy Castillos

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New Characters:

  • Idris Elba as Dixon Green
  • Ilana Glazer as Rae Marolf
  • Jimmy Smits as Sebastian Ochoa
  • Dennis Haysbert as Terry Saunders
  • Kevin Kline as Douglas Ferro
  • Dick Van Dyke as Walter Graham

In Theaters Everywhere

In real life and 30 years later, The Golden Girls would’ve slayed a podcast. Their rapport was so loving, snarky, and rooted in serious storytelling skills. But as much as we always loved the girls sitting around sassing each other — save for sweet, dearest Rose — it just wouldn’t make a movie. The gals would have to leave their kitchen table and venture out for a feature-length narrative. Alas, we couldn’t pick up where things ended in the saga; not just because Dorothy married and moved, but the group’s bond was the main attraction and to start the movie off with them already friends wouldn’t deliver the rewarding feelings we’d expect and obviously eat up. So we’d need to combine The Golden Girls with its follow-up spin-off, The Golden Palace, to create a new timeline.

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Things would kick off with Blanche in a dating rut in Miami. After she discovers that her one-night stand is the son of a former fling, she realizes her kids are right and that she could use the solid influence of women her age. So she posts rooms for rent, and that’s how she winds up with Dorothy and Rose, both of whom become immediate dear friends. Then, when Dorothy’s mother Sophia ends up in a will gifting her an old hotel in Miami, that’d be the trigger for her to move in too, and the four girls would pour their energy into reopening the joint. There’s still no ultimate hurdle, so we’d be in need of a rich and crafty real estate developer that’d try to sabotage the renovations being done by the ladies and their small staff. This would of course lead to a wild prank war between the two sides, as the girls pair up with helpful and handsome neighborhood suitors, because it just wouldn’t be The Golden Girls without them gentlemen callers.

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Action

action500 Five TV Shows Actually Worth Bringing to the Big Screen

Last Aired: December 2, 1999

Network: FOX

Original Cast:

  • Jay Mohr as Peter Dragon
  • Illeana Douglas as Wendy Ward
  • Buddy Hackett as Lonnie Dragon
  • Jack Plotnick as Stuart Glazer
  • Jarrad Paul as Adam Rafkin

Previously on…

Action mocked Hollywood with enough sass to seem edgy and enough sense to reel it in. It was a PG-13 kind of show that operated under the charmingly snarky impression that everyone in the movie business was up their own ass. In its one season of existence, Action made the entire industry seem silly for taking itself so seriously by making every scenario more ridiculous. It made good use of self-parodying celebrity cameos, too, with Keanu Reeves being felt up at a premiere and Sandra Bullock going ballistic over a sex tape. Action was loud, screwball, and fun, and there was a strange heart to it. Given that the world has become more insane and no secret is quiet for too long thanks to social media, it’s time to see how erratic and crafty Action’s Peter Dragon would manage in the Hollywood of today.

Proposed Film Cast

Existing Characters:

  • Jay Mohr as Peter Dragon
  • Illeana Douglas as Wendy Ward
  • Jack Plotnick as Stuart Glazer
  • Jarrad Paul as Adam Rafkin
  • Sandra Bullock as Sandra Bullock

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New Characters:

  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Ronnie Dragon (replacing Lonnie Dragon)
  • Jon Hamm as Remy Remington
  • Morena Baccarin as Giovanna Gonçalves

In Theaters Everywhere

This is one film adaptation that can actually keep its original timeline. That’s because Action nailed what the late 1990s were about in Hollywood, which was an unbridled love for action blockbusters. Peter was the loud and mouthy head of Dragonfire Films, and business thrived on tasteless, thoughtless action flicks. Action was fun to watch because nothing ever went right, and Peter — who was willing to do nearly anything — was always scrambling. So it’d make sense to have the film industry evolve as it has with Peter more or less the same, nearly two decades older and not much wiser or politer (yet still just as oddly cunning). Let’s assume that Peter could never make the sharper, more nuanced action film that has become more standard than niche these days. So, in his desperation years ago, he agreed to produce dramatic arthouse flicks to stay afloat and accidentally became a tastemaker for films with messages and agendas, none of which he agrees with or cares about.

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So, the movie starts with him on top, loving his glory in full arrogant splendor — that is until scandal hits when former flame Sandra Bullock spitefully releases secretly recorded audio of Peter mocking every demographic imaginable. Dragonfire immediately plummets into a chaotic tailspin, and Peter becomes persona non grata. Peter’s cousin Ronnie, a tough Hollywood agent and PR genius, steps in to save the company. The timing is curious, though, as Dragonfire’s on track to scoop the rights for a script that rumor has it would satisfy action junkies and social justice warriors alike. Ronnie secures the two biggest names to star, and Peter realizes he could lose his company as well as the biggest payday of his career. So he’d have to go berserk in repeated attempts to sabotage the movie that he’d later have to save.

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The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

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Last Aired: May 20, 1994

Network: FOX

Original Cast

  • Bruce Campbell as Brisco County, Jr.
  • Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole
  • Julius Carry as Lord Bowler
  • Kelly Rutherford as Dixie Cousins
  • John Astin as Professor Albert Wickwire

Previously on…

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was something special with a brief life. Like Firefly, the sci-fi western was enjoyed by critics and eventually killed off after one season because of low ratings. It became a cult classic and for good reason. It was genuinely funny and totally unique, all with a grand sense of pulpy adventure. It was like Indiana Jones in certain moments and steampunk in others, always under the umbrella of classic western with proper comedic timing. It had a lot more sci-fi story to tell, and it never got the chance. It remains severely underappreciated, and it’s about time that should change.

Proposed Film Cast

Existing Characters:

  • Chris Pratt as Brisco County, Jr.
  • Michael Peña as Socrates Poole
  • Boris Kodjoe as Lord Bowler
  • Alison Brie as Dixie Cousins
  • Jim Broadbent as Professor Albert Wickwire

New Characters:

  • Christoph Waltz as John Bly
  • John Cena as Big Smith
  • Gael García Bernal as Guillermo “Memo El Niño” Ramírez
  • Diego Luna as Eduardo “Lalo” Ramírez
  • Danny Trejo as Santino “Rey Lobo” Ramírez
  • Diego Boneta as Rafael “Chico Sabio” Ramírez

In Theaters Everywhere

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. did a really terrific job of threading humor into a western that was driven by a sci-fi plot. It was fun, pulpy, and charmingly aware of what it was doing. Given that it was a cult classic far ahead of its time, we’d need to treat the film adaptation as a total reboot. It could now find a welcoming and much wider audience than it did before, as long as we started from the beginning and were true to its soul.

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So, in doing that, US Marshall Brisco County, Sr. would again need to be shot by Bly for the Westerfield Club of San Francisco to hire his son to track the outlaw and his gang. We’d also need to see the strange, golden orb be dug up again as well. Bly would eventually get his hands on it, and thus he’d be revealed to be the time-traveling criminal from the future that he is. Naturally, Bly would need Wickwire to figure out the orb, and Brisco would need Socrates, Dixie, and Lord Bowler to catch him. But we can’t only service new fans. We’d need to add in some new characters as well. Enter the Brothers Ramírez, a familial outlaw gang that team up with Bly, only to betray him at his most insane. Their reasoning would make sense to Brisco, as gray areas were something the show did well. It makes sense for the Ramírezes to have sought out the orb to use it as a time machine in order to go back several decades and protect the western territory from settlers and cavalry. In the end, Brisco would offer to be their lawyer, because he was just that kind of a good dude.

If any Hollywood big shots read this and find themselves as hyped on these proposals as I am, please leave your contact info in a comment below and what kind of car you plan to send for me to discuss the ultimate feature film mashup of Rocko’s Modern Life and Duckman.

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