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10 TV Shows from the ’90s that should be Movies

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The trend for turning ’80s TV series into films doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon – “ALF”, “The Fall Guy”, “Baywatch” and, yet another “Dukes of Hazzard” are on the way – but are studio execs doing themselves an injustice by only looking at what was on the air in 1989 and working backwards? I think so! Here’s 10 shows from the 1990’s that I personally believe – feel free to disagree with me and send your whiney response via carrier pigeon to my tiny hole here in Burbank – could work well on the big screen. I’m not going to be overtly silly here and start listing the reasons why a “90210” movie would work well – it wouldn’t – I’m writing this with a straight face, so only credible suggestions will follow.

10. American Gothic

There was brief discussion of a film version at one time, but I don’t know that it was through any official channel.  If I were to guess I’d say, based on the lack of non-movement on anything “American Gothic” since the show’s premature axing in the mid ’90s, that the movie idea never eventuated beyond someone writing a postcard to the series creator Shaun Cassidy (yes, of “The Partridge Family”) for permission to take it from here.  Pity that Cassidy didn’t bite, this one would work well!

“American Gothic” was a very dark, really intriguing short-lived series, set in a small town, where the devil himself (played by the charming Gary Cole) works as the sheriff.  So many intriguing story-line’s were never tied up properly. Great premise though, right!? Tell me there’s not possibilities there!?

9. Dinosaurs

Disney’s absurdly popular animatronic/puppet series,  with a prehistoric dinosaur family filling the parts of your typical TV sitcom family (think “Married with Children…” or “Growing Pains”), was full of laughs and – one mention of the word ‘Dinosaurs’ and you think of him! – had a terrific little character in the ‘baby’ – voiced by Elmo himself, Kevin Clash.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Disney has considered doing something with this one… but I don’t see any sign of movement yet, do you? (Does it matter that, in the final episode, all the dinosaurs were killed off because of the Ice Age?)

8. Quantum Leap

Technically, it’s an ’80s show but “Quantum Leap” only really became a critical and commercial success in the ’90s with such landmark, award-winning episodes like, well,  the one where time-travelling body-jumper Sam (Scott Bakula) jumped into the body of Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.  People loved this show, it was so well-done.

The series ended on a bit of a bum note, with Sam unsuccessful in his plight to get back to his own time, but the chatter of a revive of some-sort gives us all hope he might one day return to his beloved… and in his own body.

Like Johnny Depp and “21 Jump Street”, there’s no way you’d do it without some sort of appearance by Bakula and Dean Stockwell, who played Sam’s loyal aide Al, though.

7. Parker Lewis Can’t Lose

Essentially had the same plot as the John Hughes classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – and, funnily enough, the show premiered the same week a TV spin-off of “Ferris Bueller” (starring Jennifer Aniston!) hit the air – but even if it was dishonourably noticeable, nobody much cared because they loved the charming, cheeky hijinks of popular high schooler Parker (spunky Corin Nemec). Surely there’s something ripe for the big screen in this one?  Is there a TV heartthrob out there looking to make it into the movies? And if so, does he also own a production company? Well, here’s an idea fella!

6. My So-Called Life

Yes, it’d be a challenge coming up with something story-wise, I guess, for a film version of what was in essence a teen soapie – but c’mon, this one was so much less cheesy than a “Melrose Place” or “Class of ’96” – but the show was just so excellently written, and it’s characters just so memorable –  long-suffering love-struck teen Angela Chase (Claire Danes), rebel heartthrob Jordan Catalano, and friend-zoned nerd Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall)  – that I’d personally do anything to see what they’re all up to 20-years-later! If I offer to finance it myself, will that get it done!?

5. Now and Again

Now this one, premiering in 1999 and lasting just a season, had a great concept : Michael Wiseman (John Goodman in the pilot and flashbacks) was a mild mannered officer worker with a wife Lisa (Margaret Colin) and daughter Heather (Heather Matarazzo). One day, Michael falls onto the tracks of a subway and is hit by a train. Waking up he meets Dr Theodore Morris (Dennis Haysbert). Morris is head of a secret government project which has designed a “perfect” human body (Eric Close). They have implanted Michael’s brain into this perfect body after his original died after the crash. While this allows him to live, it also obliges him to work as a secret agent for the government, foiling terrorist attacks. It also means that he cannot return to life with his family and is, in fact, supposed to never contact them. But naturally, Michael starts to miss his family and does eventually start sneakily reaching out to them. In the final episode (designed to simply be the season one finale), Michael returns to his family – who are now aware who he is – just as the government, led by Theodore, rushes in and snatches everyone.  That cliff-hanger pushed so many tears from my eyes. Please give us some sort of conclusion… on film, preferably!

4. Roswell

An early success for America’s WB network, “Roswell” was a science-fiction soapie about three aliens living as humans in – where else but – Roswell, New Mexico.

Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr and a then-relatively unknown Katherine Heigl played the extra terrestrials who are constantly trying to make sense of their messy love-lives’ while remaining one step ahead of the men-in-black – who ultimately do catch up with them. Shiri Appleby played Behr’s on-screen love interest, with character actor William Sadler brilliantly cast as the town sheriff who, over time, begins to start helping the alien’s of the town rather than stalking them.  A young, green Colin Hanks also appeared on the show in its first season.

The final episode of the show ended on a relative high, with our heroes all escaping the authorities, but how safe can three illegal aliens really ever be in America? With her film career going down the toilet fast, it’s a wonder Ms Heigl hasn’t already suggested this one to someone!

3. Friends

The tabloids seem to love this idea (they’re always running some new “Friends : The Movie” rumour) more than the cast and crew of the insanely-popular sitcom seemingly do, but just wait, once the careers of Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer start slowing up, and work offers are forwarded less regularly to their agents, they’ll be as keen as everyone else to see TV’s funniest bunch of pals take to the big screen.

Can’t imagine what a “Friends” movie would be about, nor how the concept would work on the big screen, but if a “Sex and the City” movie can exist and for the most part, turn out to be somewhat of a success, then why not “Friends Reloaded”!?

(Anyone else find it funny, and somewhat ironic, that Paul Rudd – who played Phoebe’s beau on the show in its final days – is now the most successful film star of everyone in the cast?)

2. Freaks and Geeks

I guess, like “My So Called Life”, this would be a hard one to adapt into a movie because each episode essentially just revolved around the day-to-day antics of a group of high-schoolers – and everything that came with growing up in the zoo of lockers. But this one, as opposed to the Claire Danes series (which was set in contemporary times), did have an extra element that might lend itself easier to a film concept  – it was set in the ’80s. Retro-comedy! Hello ‘American Graffiti’!  Look out “AdventureLand”!

Some guy you may have heard of called Judd Apatow, who has gone on to direct the odd film, was one of the writer/director/producer’s on the critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning comedy.

In addition, the show featured an amazing cast of now super-famous comedy stars including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco and Martin Starr! Oh, and it’s lead, John Francis Daley, while not a household name yet, wrote the screenplay for the 2011 comedy “Horrible Bosses”  – and on the back of its success has been assigned to both write and direct a reboot of the classic comedy “Vacation”! (You’ll also know his face from TV’s “Bones”, on which he’s a regular)

Have I mentioned yet that Paul Feig, who directed 2011’s biggest comedy smash “Bridesmaids”, was the show’s creator?

In other words, clearly there’s enough star-power attached to this classic series (which ran for only short but memorable season) to get some sort of reunion project off-the-ground!?

1. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

If there’s one show from the Bill Clinton-era we’ve regularly dreamed of seeing a film version of its Joss Whedon’s monstrously popular “Buffy”.

A cult favourite – itself based on an unsuccessful film that hit cinemas in 1992 (though the two bare little similarity to each other) – that has spawned mass fan clubs and led to successful careers for much of its cast and crew (namely creator Whedon, whose most recent film was 2012’s biggest, “The Avengers”), the series starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as a seemingly average young Californian high schooler who moonlights as a Vampire Slayer.

The show lives on in comic-book form, but what fans really want to see is a big-budget, original-cast packed movie version. Please!?

Before his film career erupted, Whedon attempted to convince the powers-that-be to do a series of “Buffy” telemovies – each fixing on some of the show’s many characters, be it ‘Willow’, ‘Spike’ and so on – but they weren’t much interested. Considering the lack of quality content on The CW at the moment, and just how much bigger and more bankable the name ‘Whedon’ is now, I wonder if they’d feel differently now?!

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About Sophie Best

Australian living in Los Angeles, working in Public Relations and Publishing. Favourite films include "Romancing the Stone", "The Notebook", "The Dark Knight", "Muriel's Wedding" and "Jerry Maguire". Was asked to come onboard Moviehole after filling-in for one of the site's permanent writers.
Author: Sophie Best
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