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the big league

Having scored lazy hits with sequels and remakes, Hollywood now completes the hat-trick with adaptations of old TV series. Alan Morrison wonders ifbigger really is better.

Not long ago. a night out at the cinema was a clear alternative to a night in staring at the box. Now the distinction is beginning to blur: not otin are cult television series being churned out on video and ‘classic‘ satellite channels‘ re-runs. but the titles showing on your local big screens are beginning to look suspiciously familiar The Flintstones. Maveriek and The Beverly Hillbillies. all in a single two-week period. In the past. the film world has unashamedly stolen the choicest sweets from the goodie-bag of its little brother. but never on such a grand scale and never with such a fanfare.

So why the sudden glut of movies that beg. steal or borrow their existence frotn decades-old TV programmes“? ()ne argument is that the seats behind the movers-and-shakers‘ desks in Hollywood are now tilled with a baby- boomcr generation of executives who were brought up with eyes glued to the flickering screen in their living rooms. Nostalgia is a strong force when inspiration is thin on the ground. Another factor is the ongoing restructuring of the audio-visual sector. that now leaves us with fewer independents and more giant multi- nationals with lingers in cable and satellite franchises. video back catalogues. film studios. publishing

houses and television networks. Somewhere in the archives of one sector lie the rights to a product that can be exploited by another. Audience recognition of a name

certainly helps inject a healthier glow

into that all-important opening

weekend take. But perhaps tilm

distributors in Britain are banking on a

wider saturation of American culture

than is really the case when they unleash the likes of The Beverly

Hillbillies on us. The plot. concerning hicks from the sticks coming into a

fortune and acting like fish out of water. is less familiar to a UK audience from the l‘)()2 7() (‘BS series of that name than it is from the old Bumpkin Billionaires strip in the ll"/ii::er And


l Chips kids comic of the 1970s.

Mind you. the TV-to-film phenomenon is not restricted to the other side of the Atlantic. While everyone would admit that 'Iaggarl.‘

The Movie is not a movie. but an extended episode of an occasional series. the Brits have in the past given their most popular TV hits a cinematic airing. Sometimes it worked. like when the film version of The .S'weenev was able to go full throttle on the violence level it was denied on the small screen I but. more often than not. the result was cringingly second-rate. as with the - strained spin-off of ()n The Bases. ' There are a few basic approaches to ' the adaptation formula. A 90-minute movie might feel like three chopped-up hallThour TV episodes. as was the ease with xltltltlmX Family Values. ()r it might condense the narrative outline of 3 a long-running series into one tight sitting. a device that worked particularly well last year with The Fugitive. Alternatively. the TV format might be expanded to a single. longer story with a bigger budget: Dr Who Am! The [)aleks with Peter (‘ushing being a case in point. Then there‘s the sequence of short skits masquerading as a unified movie. sotnething that worked with Wayne is World. but less so l with Cone/reads.

sponsored by BACA‘RDI BLACK

The Flintstones Whatever the case. as long as at least one of the year’s TV-inspired films hits box office gold. you can be sure that the trend will continue. Somewhere in ! l.os Angcles. there is a film-world I wannabe frantically channel-surfing in the hope that he'll stumble on the next potential hit. Maybe we can write in with our own ideas. Resurrect Molly Ringwald's career by casting her as 5 Daphne in a big screen .S'eoolrv l)oo. And what about that l'SA World Cup footballer. Alexi l.alas a dead ringer for Shaggy. I reckon. ()dds-on for next 1‘ summer‘s blockbuster?




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The Fugitive

18 The List l5—28 July 1994