Sometimes, a successful movie will attempt to make the transition to the small screen, but rarely with success. Without the budget of a feature film, special effects are limited, third rate actors are hired, and stricter content controls mean that all the fun stuff from the films need to be cut. With a good director and some solid talent, a lucky few make it work. These are not them. These are the ones that should never have been okayed in the first place, and should definitely not have made it past the pilot episode. They are the worst television shows based on movies. Well, some of them anyway.
12. Blade: The Series
Okay, in the scope of this list, Blade: The Series isn’t THAT bad, but as someone who’s a pretty big fan of the movies, it just felt like a let-down. Yep, I even liked Blade:Trinity â€” Ryan Renolds was a badass, Parker Posey is great in anything, and it had a vampire Pomeranian. The TV show just felt a little…flat. Maybe because Wesley Snipes just exudes such an amazing aura of badass, that’s impossible to emulate, even if you’re a rapper known as “Sticky Fingaz”. The producers also added a female character who plays as Blade-lite: partially a vampire, fighting urges, blah blah blah. There are also the usual issues with budget and special effects, which always pail in comparison to a hollywood flick.
11. Ferris Bueller
Not only did they make a TV show spinoff of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but they pretended that the movie version was based on the TV character, going so far as to have the smarmy, annoying TV actor decapitate a life-size cardboard Matthew Broderick. They also shifted the entire show to LA, and the whole thing felt like a shitty version of Saved by the Bell. Cocky, fourth-wall breaking protagonist, annoying friends, love interest, wealthy family, etc. Some considered the show “the worst show of the year” when it debuted in 1990, and thankfully it only lasted a season before being replaced by Blossom. If you watch the opening above, you do get to see a brief glimpse of a pre-nose-job Jennifer Anistor, playing Bueller’s sister.
At least the Tremors show managed to keep one of the original stars of the movies: the incomparable Michael Gross. Other than that, it was utterly generic, filled with mediocre actors, sub-standard special effects, and, thanks to worse incompetence than usual from the Sci Fi channel, the episodes were shown out of order, making it impossible to follow. This shiteheap of a show was meant to be an adequate replacement for Farscape. I don’t think so, Tim. Instead of just having townsfolk dealing with the Graboids (which now came in three variants, including one that flies by farting fire), they have to also face off greedy land developers, mad scientists, and incompetent government officials. How utterly banal and cliche. It only lasted half a season, thank God.
9. Highlander: The Raven
A TV spinoff off a TV spinoff of a critically slammed, but geek loved, film. The movie and first show might not have been that good, but had decent actors, great action, and motherfucking Queen for the soundtrack! Raven didn’t have any of those. Instead of badass decapitations and immortal warriors, the producers attempted to make it more based on romance. Given the current popularity of urban fantasy novels, if Raven were made today, and a huge amount more sex was added, I’m sure the show would do gangbusters. However, the late 90s? And those cheesetastic special effects? Absolutely horrible.
8. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
You know you’re in trouble as a show, when the movie it’s based on involved shrinking children to insect size, and that was far more plausible than anything that came after. Every week of this Disney disaster had to follow the same pattern: science goes wrong, wacky hijinks ensue. After a while, you have to wonder why this guy wasn’t stripped of his business, and didn’t get his children taken away from him. Hell, given the tremendous rate of failure of all his inventions, he should have been sent to work for military enemies in order to sabotage their programs. The guy was a walking EMP. Funnily, the geeky son from this show went on to be John Conner in The Sarah Conner Chronicles.
7. Police Academy: The Series
By the time Police Academy got a live action series, it had already been three years since the universally panned seventh film Mission to Moscow. Somehow, someone believed that it would be a good idea to try again with the franchise â€” which was never that well received to begin with â€” but on the small screen. The only actor who transitioned to the show was Michael Winslow (the sound effects guy). Frankly, he deserved better than this, at least he had something vaguely resembling a talent. This show was so utterly painful and lacking in humor, that it couldn’t even live up to the exceptionally low standards of the movies. Jeez, the original was just tit jokes and slapstick, and the tv version couldn’t even get that right. How it made it all the way through its first season, I will never know.
6. Robocop: The Series
Bowdlerisation is a major problem for shows based on dark and bloody movies, which Robocop certainly was. The movies were violent and gore-filled, and dealt with corruption and deceit. The TV show was aimed at a much younger audience, so Robocop no longer killed, instead just subduing enemies in a way that made it easy for them to come back week after week. And now, not only were OCP no longer the sadistic, corrupt, and evil corporate overlords, they were just bumbling and foolish. After all, you can’t have a show on network television that shows big corporations in a negative light â€” especially not from Fox.
If ever there was a movie that didn’t translate well to the small screen of the 1970s, it was Shaft. As king of the Blaxploitation genre, the Shaft movies were filled with drug use, violence, swearing, nudity, and Shaft kicking the ever loving crap out of gangsters, cops, the man, and anyone else who got in his way. None of these things were allowed on TV in the 70s, hell, most of them wouldn’t fly today. Instead, you got a bunch of TV movies with Richard Roundtree reviving his most famous role, but with massively reduced…well…everything. He now worked with the cops instead of against them, was less violent, and didn’t bang as many ladies. In other words, he sold out to whitey. You can bet that didn’t go over well.
4. Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince
I’m not really sure how this show ever came to exist. The Benji films were about a lovable scruff of a mutt, with a knack for getting in and out of trouble. That’s great, right? Sort of a scamp version of Lassie. So, when they brought it to television, why did they add an alien prince, his assistant robot, and evil bounty hunters to the show. It’s just such an…odd…addition. Why does a friendly dog show need to go Sci-Fi? And why have a young prince being chased by bumbling adults in black van â€” which sounds really, really creepy. Maybe the whole thing was just an escapist fantasy of a boy running away from his kidnappers, pretending he’s an alien prince in order to deal with the horrors of his existence. Makes as much sense as anything.
3. Delta House
A spin-off from National Lampoon’s Animal House, but, without, you know, anything good. Another victim of content restrictions, Delta House was played during a family friendly time, so there couldn’t be any drunken debauchery, drugs, risque humor, or anything that would make a sitcom about a frat house even vaguely funny. The only thing college comedies are ever about is that when everyone leaves home, they want to party, get drunk, and screw. Then you add an uptight Dean and snooty preppy or two, and you have every frat comedy. Ever. Good guys win at the end, the Man gets embarrassed, and the mandatory amount of tits are shown. Too bad you can’t show that on TV, especially not at 8PM on a Saturday night, when the kids might be up. They couldn’t even get John Belushi back, instead introducing a sibling character to play the part.
2. Mortal Kombat: Conquest
Due to the success of Hercules, the 90s saw an explosion in ill-fated fantasy adventure shows. There were Sinbad, Robin Hood, even Ivanhoe versions. And a Mortal Kombat one. Yes, that’s right, a Mortal Kombat fantasy prequel, and of the three main characters, only one â€” Kung Lao â€” is from the games. And he doesn’t even have a razor hat. With a budget resembling an 8-year old’s allowance, and costumes culled from Goodwill, Conquest was an embarrassment, even by the standards of Mortal Kombat. It was filled with over-done swooshing sound effects everytime anyone so much as moved, and the cast were entirely dime-store martial artists and acrobats, who could do a spinning kick, and that’s about it. Watch the fight below, and keep your eye out for CG clipping through characters fingers, obviously faked hits, and footage reversed to make acrobatics look better.
1. Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation
Oh god, this abomination. It had absolutely no redeeming features, whatsoever. They introduced a girl turtle â€” Venus De Milo â€” who didn’t even rate been named after an artist. But, they had to make her the bestest thing ever! So she got magic powers, that only she could use, and could dreamwalk, and all the other turtles loved her, and wanted to be her boyfriend. Because now they weren’t brothers any more. They also nixed Mikey’s nunchaku, and replaced them with tonfa. The costumes were horrible, the action bad even for the budget, and they crossed over with the power rangers. Even kids who loved TMNT hated this show, for obvious reason. It was the worst television spinoff of a movie ever conceived. When you make a show about mutant animals and ninja, and you can’t impress 9-year old boys? You’re doing something wrong.