So, MacGyver is apparently on track to become the latest TV show to hit the silver screen with James Wan directing. We have yet to see that project truly come alive, but if it does it would follow a proud Hollywood tradition. “Proud?”, you say. Sure, there have been many horrible adaptations of TV shows… but don’t lose hope. Here’s a reminder of the cream of the crop.
1. The Untouchables The greatest of all TV adaptations is a masterpiece courtesy of Brian De Palma. One of Hollywood’s finest gangster movies, this has among many outstanding ingredients a homage to Sergei Eisenstein’s famous Odessa Steps sequence from Potemkin (1925).
2. Mission: Impossible My second choice is another Brian De Palma film that shows how the director (along with suitably picked collaborators) is able to turn predictable material into a very special experience. The clip shows Tom Cruise in one of the movie’s most extravagant sequences, a break-in at CIA headquarters in Langley.
3. The Fugitive One of the most exciting thrillers of the early 1990s was this take on a 1960s TV series. The clip has Tommy Lee Jones (who won an Oscar) telling his men how to search for the target, perhaps the most famous scene from the film. Which is interesting, because that piece of dialogue overshadows several high-powered, very well staged action sequences.
4. Star Trek No, I’m not talking about the 1979 adaptation of the TV series – but the movie franchise as a whole. It became a commercially successful series in the 1980s and has lasted into our days thanks to J.J. Abrams’s skilful handling. That would not have happened without the excellent second, fourth and sixth chapters of the franchise.
5. The Naked Gun The 1988 adaptation of an early ’80s TV series that failed to gain traction showed that what might not be fit for TV might just work on the big screen. This became one of the funniest movies of the decade (spawning two sequels), with a hilarious performance by Leslie Nielsen (“I gotta get… inside”. ). The clip above is comedy gold.