Fargo, the eccentric Academy award-winning 1996 film from Ethan and Joel Coen, is getting a second lease on life as a television series. The series, which is loosely based on the comedy crime drama, will have a 10 episode run on US network FX. Starring Billy Bob Thornton and The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman, Fargo the show could be set to join the leagues of other clever ideas that have made the successful leap from silver screen to living room.
So what qualities make for a smooth transition? We take a look at the best television series inspired by films in an attempt to discover the secret formula.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Written by the now-prolific Joss Whedon, this moderately successful 1992 film followed the story of a high-school cheerleader who discovers that her calling in life is to fight vampires. Unhappy with the unrealistic interpretation of his film’s script, Whedon re-wrote the concept as a television series which first aired in March 1997.
The character of Buffy, originally played by Kristy Swanson, was recast as 90s teen phenomenon Sarah Michelle Gellar and the show received rave reviews from critics and viewers thanks to Whedon’s darker, edgier writing style. It enjoyed a well-deserved six-year run with seven action-packed seasons.
The 2004 film about a Texas football team and the town that worships them (based on a non-fiction book by H.G. Bissinger) provided a refreshing departure from typical teen movies with a grittier, less-than-perfect portrayal of the hunky heroes it lauds. Inspired by the film, NBC launched a series by the same name in 2006, which won acclaim for its willingness to address contemporary issues like racism, drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy. Loveable actor Kyle Chandler provided a strong anchor for the series as family-focused football coach Eric Taylor, a similar role to the one played by Billy Bob Thornton in the film.
While the audience for the show was relatively small, it lasted for five seasons and gained somewhat of a cult following for its moody sepia-tinged lighting and talent for scouting fresh new acting talent.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Expanding their already substantial empire, Marvel Comics recently made the cross to television with this ABC series, an offshoot of their Avengers films. Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Joss Whedon, the show premiered in September last year, following an elite team of agents who have been assembled to handle the most unusual, challenging international crime cases. Leading the charge is Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg) a Marvel character who has appeared in the first two Iron Man films, Thor, and The Avengers.
So far, the show has had mixed reviews, with many comic book lovers complaining about its lack of super-powered protagonists. Luckily, writers have an entire pool of much-loved ready-made characters to pull from for guest spots, the most recent of those being Thor babe Lady Sif (played by Jaimie Alexander).
This wildly popular Australian television series, which dealt with the trials and tribulations of students at Sydney’s fictional Hartley High, was based on 1993’s The Heartbreak Kid. In the film, a young Claudia Karvan plays an engaged young schoolteacher who strikes up an illicit affair with one of her students.
The television series was a hit, running for five years from its debut in 1994 and also gaining an international fan-base. Alex Dimitriades, the actor who played the “heartbreak kid” character in the film, also starred in the series as Nick Poulos.
MASH, The 1970 film directed by Robert Altman, was a runaway success thanks to its satirical take on an American medical unit during the Korean War. Starring Donald Sutherland Tom Skerritt, the show provided black comedy by the bucket load and picked up the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and several nominations.
It came as no surprise when the concept quickly got picked up by CBS for a television show, kicking off in 1972. After a rocky first season, the show flourished, gaining loyal viewers and breaking ratings records, going on to run for an amazing 11 seasons. The television version had the same premise of the film, with many drawing comparisons between its depiction of the Korean War and the Vietnam War, which was still ongoing when the show started. Re-runs still can be found on television today.
When much-loved comic actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau teamed up as mismatched housemates in the 1968 film The Odd Couple, audiences were immediately charmed. The pair, each playing divorced men trying to readjust, were in part responsible for the box office success of the movie, which was adapted from a Broadway stage play also starring Matthau.
Knowing a good thing when they saw it, ABC transformed the film into a sit-com starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. The joy of watching neat-freak Felix (Randall) clash with sloppy Oscar (Klugman) did not wear off and the show enjoyed a popular five-season run.
Now into its fifth season, NBC’s Parenthood is comedy drama loosely based on the hilarious 1989 Steve Martin film of the same name. NBC’s second attempt at translating the film to television screens (a 1990 series failed dismally), Parenthood has survived thanks to its strong ensemble cast, featuring Dax Shepherd, Erika Christensen and Gilmore Girls‘ Lauren Graham. The director of the original film version, Ron Howard, signed on to create the series, which follows the eventful lives of the extensive Braverman clan, from babies to grandparents.
The film also portrays an extended family, with Steve Martin as a beleaguered father attempting to balance his busy career with his son’s emotional problems and his wife’s fourth pregnancy, while his sister struggles with her own wayward kids. Both the film and the series are celebrated for being a relatable look at family life and values.
The Pink Panther films are part of a popular franchise which kicked off in 1963. Peter Sellers was the first actor to play the role of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling French detective on the case of a jewel thief seeking to steal the elusive “Pink Panther” diamond. The character was so popular it went on to carry ten more films and, although played predominantly by Sellers, the role was also embraced by other celebrated actors like Alan Arkin, Roger Moore, Roberto Benigni and, most recently, Steve Martin.
The Pink Panther, portrayed in the movies as a pink diamond with a defect resembling a leaping panther, was literally adapted into a cartoon cat for a series of shorts created in 1969. The panther was the starring role in The Pink Panther Show, which began as a mini prequel to the film’s credits and then earned its own standalone series on NBC. It went off air in 1980 after moving to ABC for two years.