Movies & TV / Columns

10 Bad TV Shows Based on Movies

August 22, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Rush Hour Movie and Show

I’m going to share a little secret with you: Hollywood loves money. It’s true. And once they find something that’s profitable, they’ll mine it for all it has and even then will come back and see if they can squeeze out a few more nostalgic dollars. 

That’s why we get crossover productions. Movies based on television shows, or even skits on a late night show, and tv shows based on movies. Sometimes it works out and sometimes we get some real clunkers. 

For every Fargo and Friday Night Lights except…well, the list below is a good example. 

Quick notes, I’m not putting AfterMASH on this list as it was a spinoff of a show that was based on a movie…and that just was too much of a stretch. It’s a bad show, just know that. 

Also, no animation shows. Way too many and could have its own column. Maybe some other time. 

Let’s jump into this NON RANKED list with…

Delta House
This series, based on the comedy classic Animal House, aired from January 18 to April 21, 1979 and that’s still 4 months too long. 

Animal House had a rawness to it that simply can’t be captured on network television, especially back then. Without the raunchy humor, sexual references, and foul language of the source material, it’s simply a paint-by-numbers college show. Even worse, while they brought back movie cast members like John Vernon (Dean Wormer), Stephen Furst (Flounder), Bruce McGill (D-Day), and James Widdoes (Hoover), replacing John Belushi’s Bluto with Josh Mostel’s Blotto (Bluto’s brother) was…bad. None of the charm carried over and thankfully this has been all but forgotten until I just included it on the list. 

Delta House had one redeeming quality. It was an early vehicle for Michelle Pfeiffer, who played “The Bombshell”. 

Down and Out in Beverly Hills
When you watched that promo did you get the feeling you were watching a spoof of a bad promo? Welcome to bad tv in 1987. 

Down and Out in Beverly Hills came out in theaters the year before and was a strong success, making over $62 million off a budget of $14 million. Of course that’s going to draw attention and with a fairly basic plot about a rich but dysfunctional couple who save the life of a suicidal homeless man, that should translate easily to the small screen. Not so. 

For trivia purposes, Down and Out in Beverly Hills has the distinction of being the first movie released by Disney to receive an R-rating.

Missing from the show was EVERYTHING that made the movie work. When it debuted, the television show received a Metascore rating of only 28.

For more trivia purposes Down and Out in Beverly Hills was the first ever show to be cancelled by the Fox network. 

10 Things I Hate About You
I’m going to lump a few high school shows on here as they all suffer from similar weaknesses. 

10 Things I Hate About You was a surprisingly solid movie thanks to a charming cast and the charisma of the late Heath Ledger. Watching the movie, you could see he had something and with a strong ensemble, the movie stands out from the other high school movie tripe. The movie was a retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, giving it a nice twist as well. 

The movie came out in 1999 so you’d think to capitalize on it’s modest success they would put out the show soon after. Not so. They waited 10 years. While the movie had a distinctiveness to it, the show did not and felt like a cookie cutter high school program. 

Fast Times
Don’t let the catchy Oingo Boingo opening and surprisingly familiar cast fool you. Fast Times is no Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Like most high school shows, they sanitize plots and characters to an unforgivable level. It’s simply impossible to do the movie justice with a tv show on a network. 

Plus, Square Pegs tried the same vibe a few seasons earlier and did a better job but even that got cancelled. 

My biggest gripe is they tried to recreate Sean Penn’s magical Jeff Spicoli and that’s not going to happen. 

Ferris Bueller
The 1990 Ferris Bueller tv show might be the worst offender on this list. The John Hughes classic stars Matthew Broderick who straddles the line between lovable and absolute jerk. A high schooler who takes the day off with his girlfriend and best friend. 

The tv show’s concept goes a slightly different route as it’s about the “real” Ferris, who thinks Broderick’s portrayal of him in the movie was totally bogus.

That lasted for one episode but the writing for Charlie Schlatter’s Ferris made the character completely unlikable. Also, it was compared to a similar, more well received show, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, which did better with audiences. 

Oh, and Jennifer Aniston is in it as well.  

School of Rock
Here’s the part where we talk about the importance of trying to recast a role already deeply attached to an actor. Jack Black can’t be replaced. He infused Dewey Finn with energy, heart, and gleeful wonder. 

Tony Cavalero had the difficult task of trying to do the same but with far different results. Is the show a disaster? Not quite but I’d much rather watch the movie.

When it comes down to it, that’s a big factor in many of the failed tv shows based on movies. You get attached to the actors/characters and anything different just feels…less than. You also don’t have the same chemistry.

Which leads us to…

Rush Hour
You’re not going to capture the chemistry that Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan had in the movies. 

The show lacked the chemistry, timing, humor, and stunts that you come to expect from the movie franchise. One of the things you have to
deal with in television is the dreaded “formulaic” plot devices. After a few episodes, you know where it’s going and, unfortunately, the jokes are funny enough to keep you around. 

Rush Hour was a blink and you missed it show, much like Chan’s punches. 

Dirty Dancing
Chemistry also plays a factor when doing a show with love and romance. Something this series lacked. 

Dirty Dancing has had a prequel, remake, and tv show. Each one failed to capture what made the movie so beloved. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey on paper might seem like an odd pairing but they brought it when it came to movie magic. Patrick Cassidy and Melora Hardin were no Swayze and Grey on the dance floor. 

Swayze’s presence alone is difficult to replicate so it’s not worth trying. They gave it a whirl but after a season it wasn’t the time of our life. 

Uncle Buck
I was going to put this up there with School of Rock in the category of replacing a main character but thought about it and wanted to make this more distinct. 

While another actor could have done School of Rock, giving it another tone, Uncle Buck works thanks to John Candy. Candy…I miss him. He gave each character a nuance that only he could bring. He was the kind of guy you felt you already knew, a familiar friend. 

Uncle Buck could have easily gone another, less entertaining path. It had more paths to flop than to fly and that’s because of Candy. 
Kevin Meaney was set up to fail in a show that never captured even a sliver of the movie’s laughs. The tv show was quickly put to rest before even airing all of its episodes.

And I won’t even mention the 2016 Uncle Buck tv show reboot with Mike Epps as Buck. The less said about that the better.

Police Academy: The Series
Police Academy is one of those franchises that is fondly remembered and works thanks to the sum of its parts coming together at the right time. Sure, a lot of the jokes are dated and obvious but thanks to the cast, you find yourself laughing. Yes, even Mission to Moscow has its funny moments.

The tv series never came close to rising to that level and was just recycled jokes and situations that we had already seen a number of times. An ensemble cast is like walking a tightrope and while the payoff is big when it works, the fall is hard when it doesn’t. It only takes a couple of weak links to bring it down and that was the case here. 

That’s my 10…what about yours?