With the countdown to Twin Peaks, Westworld and Brave New World well and truly on the tick, I’m really looking forward to yet another movie-cum-TV series. In case you’ve made your mind up after coming across the likes of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, however, I thought I’d shed a little light on what’s decent among the more recent movie-to-TV genre.
The first notable jump in this direction was probably M*A*S*H*, right? Despite the added canned laughter and it getting dumbed down a little, still class. In recent years, there seems to be an acceleration of this cross-over, and even movies you’d assumed were safe on the DVD scrapheap get broken down into their constituent parts then sellotape’d together as some Frankenbride of their former selves. Out of the bunch (and there’s a bunch), the first I gave an actual shit about was Hannibal.
I was reticent. I’d grimly looked in the direction of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, twice, and it was shit, a half-decent movie expanded to a ten hour version of itself. Without the original well-cast cast, it boiled down to a very reduced ten minutes of the movie diluted up again with a further fifty minutes of weak rinse. With less and less caring put in and leaking tension like fuck, that extra fifty minutes per hour were getting real strung out. Just a fucking terrible idea.
But yeah, Hannibal. Who the fuck is this main character with empathetic superpowers? Will I care? Oh wait, yes I will because it’s Will Graham! This cross-over was class. Fucking class. It charts the time between Red Dragon/Manhunter and Silence Of The Lambs. It’s very post-Hannibal Rising and very pre-Hannibal. And Jesus, Mads Mikkelsen is a Hannibal to rival one of cinema’s most iconic performances. He’s one suave bastid with a selection of lovely knives in a great kitchen and a selection of dapper ties that could put John Snow to shame. The goodies? Well, they work cases alongside him in this growing, melty tension which leaves the audience screaming at their screens as scene after intense scene is handled with such a sweet finesse. Frames of this show belong in an art gallery.
One thing, though. I tried to go back to the beginning as a catch-up before the third series arrived and the first few episodes just looked real dated. Not sure this became true of the rest of it, but the look must have evolved so far, so fast and handled so well it dated itself… dunno. So stick with it if it does look a little dated, because it is just so fucking good. Dark as fuck too, so not for nippers or the ill. Oh, and don’t eat during the episodes. I know all gore turns the stomach to some degree, but no matter how hardened you are to the PTSD, your nice wee dinner will be ruined with this ultra-smart and hyper-crazy blood fest… all very tasteful, of course. I mean who doesn’t aspire to be eaten by a more tasteful person? Is it maybe that they had free reign between a series of movies that this had such resonance with me? It was such a defined world already that, while all others were at mass this fella was making hay…? Dunno, but yeah, lethal.
Next to Fargo. Season one is a very well teetered-out version of the film. Not like some other dung I have mentioned, Fargo’s extra bits and new characters expanded well. Can’t help comparing the original (which I have to say, in my mind is a better) cast, but the characters are strong enough to last one season. Martin freeman is deadly. Billy-Bob is fucking stunning. So yeah, it’s fine, BUT the second season is the deadly life saver of this wee gem. It’s a completely different story, although the small twist I don’t mind letting out is that it’s set a generation earlier. So the grand daughter of Ted Danson’s character in season two is the great case-cracking cop from season one, who incidentally, wasn’t in the movie. Odd but there y’go. Her da, the diner owner in season one, is the main lead in season two. Make sense? Of course it does, and perhaps the very talented Coens did have to skip a little, but I have to say – there was enough left in that beautiful and comedic world to justify a full season one. But fuck, even if you don’t, season two is a must. Dusk Til Dawn can go fuck itself. To split the performances up by who was best is hard as fuck, but I’ll try to point out a few extra-notable notables. Kirsten Dunst is unbe-fucking-lieveable, so much so i think I checked IMDB three times to make sure it was still her; her denial arc is just insanely class. The real horrid Gerhardt-asshole character is played by a relatively unknown actor (Jeffrey Donavan – bit part from 2015’s great movie Sicario) as is most of the cast but aye – him and his ma are both class. Danson and Wilson are class as lead investigators and aye – some other good performances from big names alongside class performances from unknowns there too. My favorite? That fucking mental Native American Indian who is just looking to watch the world burn. Class show. I see Ewan McGregor is in next year’s third season too, class.
What else, there’s loads of these; aye – Ash vs. Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell’s back. It’s great to see him play Ash again after so many other roles, and it’s a mental mash-up, his character being an even bigger moonbeam, thirty years on. Not really a movie straight to TV, but y’know, is.
Oh shit, Bates Motel… holy fuck, if you wondered on the reasons Norman Bates did what he did in that motel way back when, the writers got him spot on as a teenager in this one. There’s a lovely retro-look, insane story arcs and desperately good tension-building dialogue and action. Zizek has a class analysis of the psycho-dynamics of the super-ego, the ego and the id based on the original movie psycho… look at that… but here are three terrifying seasons which get all messy upside your head.
I’m going to push one notable exception on you here, but it’s probably the best thing this year’s television has produced – Louis CK’s Horace and Pete. It’s a TV play – not a movie, but not TV, not really. There aren’t enough of these, and sticking with this tangent a little, Louis’s got a new one just started as well – Better Things. It’s deadly too, co-written by the lead, Pamela Adlon. It’s especially rewarding if you liked her in the recent series of Louie and a good compliment to the also-recent Motherland. But yeah, Horace and Pete? Great, dark fucking comedy with a Buscemi (Fargo), a Falco (The Sopranos) and an Alda (M*A*S*H*). See what synchronicity did there? A must. Some of the bar conversations are shit-your-pants funny, running alongside some of the saddest visuals I’ve ever seen. Beautiful piece of writing from a master.
There’s loads of these now that I think about it, all about to bip down wires to glare right in your facehole like you’re not even there. As I said, Westworld is due very soon, and Tremors too. Devil’s Advocate has a pilot due and Fatal Attraction as well. Frequency (80s Dennis Quaid becomes his future son – think time-traveling Freaky Friday) is still to be approved, and The Truman Show and Shutter Island both have the potential of very being good. Damien (that wee shit from possibly the scariest movie trilogy of all time, The Omen) is not good. I’m not sure either about elongated versions of Uncle Buck, Taken, Ghost, or Big. Or Bachelor Party. Or School of Rock. I just can’t see comedy classics, nostalgic classics or actually decent gore flicks doing well with the standard conversion track record of the genre. Who needs it with shows like Stranger Things kicking about? I liked Buffy, but remember, there have been some real ruinations made in the name of once-greats; Terminator, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They all could’ve been… but weren’t.
There’s just loads, this is a can of worms I wish I’d let sink. But it’s fine. I’ll likely see all these and more along the way at some point, plus Rosemary’s Baby and Daredevil. Oh, and to finish up, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s good to see Marvel are doing it well, but Gotham, well it is a strange meld. DC are so far up their own hole at the minute, what with pushing out dung for dollar I’m just glad I’ve liked any of their output since Bale was Batman. Gotham yes, but why not Flash? Well here’s why. Arrow came first and they should have had his movie first, then the series, then a Flash movie, then all of Suicide Squad’s cast getting their movies, placed in the Flash series as best they could, all to the tune of a dark shouty Bale, and no, DC, you should NEVER have put that fucking Afflection into the world. Now it’s all just some fucked up multi-cast mess of a thing. Anyhow, ruined a perfectly healthy dependence on DC for me is all. Gotham’s fine, but yeah, bad DC…
While it is always good to see movies which have transcended the trap of being elongated episodes projected onto a bigger screen, we still have three hundred days of rain in Ireland, so stop fucking them up please; although, come to think on it, I do have a fuck ton of books sitting looking at me which aren’t going to read themselves.
I’m down with the few I have mentioned because they actually feel like they’ve gained something in transition; not only do they satisfy an already-strong fan base, they make themselves accessible enough to entice the not-yet fans among us. But when it goes wrong, not only have you wasted your time, more, you’ve gone into minus pleasure, a horrid HORRID sensation.
Anyhow, since it’s another lovely, rainy day I’ll leave you with some of the other-way-arounds… some movies which you may not know came from TV shows;
- The Muppets got their start as a TV show in the set-up known locally as the fifties.
- The Blues Brothers came from a Saturday Night Live sketch (as did Wayne’s World and Coneheads).
- Shaun the Sheep, y’know – Shaun. The sheep.
- The Untouchables was a 1959 TV show based on an autobiographical book, all of the same great name.
- Three words; Twin fucking Peaks – because the second season was less Lynchian as he’d stepped away from it a little too much, he shot Fire Walk With Me to explain some of the gaps. So c’mon the third!
- Maverick, that Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson one, yip, it was a 60s TV show.
- A couple I may watch which might have been better than the decent enough bubblegum movies they spawned are Dragnet and Wild Wild West, but a revisit is well overdue for The Prisoner and Twin Peaks.
Have a feeling I’ve mentioned Twin Peaks? And Westworld? Uuugh, please don’t be shit. Don’t you DARE be shit.