Anger Management – or – Charlie Sheen presents Charlie Sheen as Dr. Charlie Sheen and Five Film to TV Adaptations that Utterly Failed!   3 comments

I realize that I have spent a lot of time griping about how media industry attempts to make money by finding a formula that works and reproducing it over and over again.  I’m gonna keep talking about that.

Later this month Charlie Sheen is set to star in the new FX series Anger Management, based on the Adam Sandler/ Jack Nicholson movie  that I had all but forgotten about until the series was announced.  He will be taking over the Nicholson role of the eccentric doctor, but the character’s name is now “Charlie,” and he has the added back story of having been a minor league baseball player who struggled with his own anger issues before becoming a therapist.  So its effectively Major League plus Anger Management plus actual Charlie Sheen.  The real life ex-Mrs. Sheen, Denise Richards, is reportedly guest starring as a love interest for Charlie.

No joke needed.

TV audiences love a train wreck and Charlie Sheen’s well publicized bout with being-a-crazy-person last year was more entertaining than his entire career up to that point.  And since the only thing that audiences love even more than said train wreck is the come back story (did you give a sh*t about Micky Rourke until he was on his way back up? I didn’t think so) , which FX is going to serve up in easy to swallow half hour installments.  This is good for the type of audience member that doesn’t care what their watching, because it requires absolutely no knowledge of the premise.  All you need to know is who Charlie Sheen is and you’re pretty much caught up on the whole thing.  This is also good for the advertisers who can be fairly certain that people are going to tune in to see what heap o’ trouble ol’ Charlie has gotten himself into this time!

So we go from this:

To this:

They literally showed a train wreck…  I had not seen that until I started doing research for this post.

Honestly, bravo! The show may not be good (it seems fairly generic from the clips on youtube), but least they respect their audience enough to be honest with them about what it is.  Charlie Sheen looking for a come back.  The show seems to have little resemblance to the movie, and has become a vessel for Sheen to endear himself to the public again, devoid of any significant pretense.  From the movie we are left with the basic premise of “wacky therapist” and then Charlie Sheen is shoe horned in because it fits the persona that he is going for these days.

I’m not going to watch it, but I encourage people who do to tell me what they think so I can judge it anyway.

I’m always a bit fascinated by film to TV adaptations.  Sometimes it works very well, with the most successful example probably being M*A*S*H, based on the 1970 film of the same name.  M*A*S*H lasted eleven years and now dominates its progenitor in the pop culture zeitgeist (side note, M*A*S*H also spun off three other series which had varying degrees of  success, but that’s another post).  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is another example of  where the series took on a life of its own while the movie that spawned it has become little more than a footnote.

Sometimes though, (probably more often, but I would need to do some more research) they fail.  Spectacularly.  Perhaps Anger Management has a few things to learn from the failed attempts that came before it.  With that I give you:

Five Film to TV Adaptations that Utterly Failed!

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures – Adaptation of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

With a run of seven episodes in summer of 1992 the live action Bill and Ted series failed to gain the audience and following of the films.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact Bill and Ted had been replaced with two new actors, or that Rufus had gone from being a grizzled comedic genius to a guy that sounds like he’s reading an ad for a water park.  Take that Rick Overton!  The duo and their friend from the future had already seen some success on TV with the Saturday morning cartoon that featured the voices of the original actors.  Both shows ended fairly swiftly, despite their use of super awesome 90’s computer graphics.

Ferris Bueller – Adaptation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

JENNIFER ANISTON! Did you see that?! I wonder if the failure of this show had something to do with the fact that in its first five minutes it tried to distance it self from the very successful movie by sawing a cut out of Matthew Broderick in half.  I know it couldn’t have failed because of its sweet rap intro with all the crazy dance moves the kids are doing these days.  After a 13 episode run the prime time shenanigans of Charlie Schlatter were taken off the air and replaced with the original quirky-girl helmed TV series Blossom.

My Big Fat Greek Life – Adaptation of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

The attempt to convert the 2002 sleeper hit into a laugh track backed three-camera sitcom resulted in 7 episodes of meh comedy that no one seemed to notice.  The show featured almost the entire cast of the movie, except for the original husband, John Corbett,  who was going to return to the show as a recurring guest star playing his replacement’s best friend.  Because that wouldn’t have been convoluted at all.  The show also changed the names of the main characters from Toula and Ian to Nia and Thomas.  Nia, to capitalize on the success of the actress Nia Vardarlos, and Thomas because … I have no idea why.

Delta House – Adaptation of Animal House

One of three failed Animal House TV adaptations, Delta House is the most noteworthy as it was the only one to reunite some of the cast of the film.  It also featured Michelle Pfeiffer in an early role.  Who it didn’t feature was John Belushi, who’s character, John “Bluto” Blutarsky, was written off as being in the military. Instead his brother Jim “Blotto” Blutarsky was brought in to replace him (just like real life!).  The show did well in the ratings, but content disputes lead to the series getting the ax after a one season run.

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven – Adaptation of The Crow

With a 22 episode one season run, this series stared the Chairman from Iron Chef America (for real) as the titular character.  The show rehashed the storyline from the original movie and expanded on the characters and mythos of The Crow. Sadly, no amount of late 90’s broodiness or Led Zeppelin inspired titles were enough to keep this show going after its first season.  For it faults it was still probably better than the some of The Crow movies.  The series ends with its major plot lines unresolved, but if you are curious you can catch the whole series on Hulu.

So what movies do you think deserve TV adaptations?  Which other TV adaptations should have never happened? And what TV adaptations were worth watching? Tell me in the comments!


3 responses to “Anger Management – or – Charlie Sheen presents Charlie Sheen as Dr. Charlie Sheen and Five Film to TV Adaptations that Utterly Failed!

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  1. Great entry Sam. I would absolutely love to see a TV show based on “Almost Famous” where the protagonist travels around the country hanging out with different non-fictional rock bands from the late 60’s. I’m sure it would be terrible, but fun to see which bands they would pick and how they’d represent them.

    On the flip side, I think that a TV adaptation of “Schindler’s List” would be by far the absolute worst show ever to air on television. Well, on second thought, it’d be tied with “Whitney” for that distinction.

  2. From a quick viewing of that rather long wikipedia list – many of those shows were cartoon adaptations of live-action movies and understandably faded after a season or two. You make a good point about Anger Management though, in that it is a vehicle for Charlie Sheen and has nothing to do with the movie…

    Now if you want to talk about book to film adaptations…we can get angry

  3. The sad thing is that Ferris Beuller DID end up with a pretty good TV adaptation in everything but name: Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Apparently they even premiered the same year. Also, Parker’s girlfriend was named Sloane, just like Ferris’s!

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