“Bad Teacher” premiered on CBS on Thursday night, and as The Post’s TV critic Hank Stuever pointed out, it’s not like anyone was really clamoring for a movie based on the 2011 movie of the same name. You know, the one where Cameron Diaz plays a terrible teacher who gets dumped by her rich fiance and tries to seduce her wealthy colleague.
Though we have yet to see if viewers will flock to “Bad Teacher” — in the plum post-”Two and a Half Men” timeslot — the whole “TV show based on a movie” genre can go either way, and historically it isn’t a great plan, even if they do keep getting made. (See: The new drama “Fargo” over on FX.) For one thing, it’s a lot easier to sell a a TV show to a network based on an already-established idea, especially that one that was a hit at the box office. Plus, producers and executives hope that fans of the movie will automatically serve as a built-in audience for the show.
“Bad Teacher” is charging ahead. (To its credit, it does seem to be a cut above your average laugh-track CBS sitcom.) There’s a long, long list of movie-to-TV adaptations in history (even”M*A*S*H), but here’s a look at six examples and some lessons learned that should serve as a warning, and in a couple cases, an inspiration.
TV show: “Clueless” (ABC and UPN) Sept. 1996 – May 1999
Lifespan: 3 seasons
Movie inspiration: “Clueless” in 1995
How true is the show to the movie? A few of the actors from the movie did make the journey to the show: Stacey Dash as Dionne, Elisa Donovan as Amber, Donald Faison as Murray, and even Wallace Shawn. But many actors were replaced, and as many have noted, the only thing Movie Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and TV Cher (Rachel Blanchard) shared was blonde hair. The show did chronicle wacky hijinks at a ritzy high school, but lacked the spark of the original.
Was the show a good idea? No … just no. It was a mistake to try and capture the magic of Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd and the rest of the original cast on the small screen, without two of its biggest stars. ABC made a good faith effort and then canceled it after one season; UPN picked up it up for another two, but viewership dropped drastically.
TV show: “10 Things I Hate About You” (ABC Family), July 2009 – May 2010
Lifespan: 1 season
Movie inspiration: “10 Things I Hate About You” in 1999
How true is the show to the movie? Because the teen romantic comedy was mostly engineered by a single plotline — Dad won’t let younger popular daughter Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) date until older angsty daughter (Julia Stiles) dates too — the producers had to amp up the drama a little bit. As a result, that idea was basically eliminated, though there were some similarities: “same characters, same director (Gil Junger), same tendency of Kat to smash people’s cars.” Larry Miller also reprised his role as the dad, the only actor from the film to star in the series.
Was the show a good idea? We’re going to say: Sort of. Even though fans had reservations about the beloved rom-com that launched Heath Ledger’s career being turned into a half-hour comedy, it was actually pretty decent and relatively well-reviewed. Unfortunately, this was back when ABC Family was starting to hit its sweet spot with melodramas such as “Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and ran out of patience when the “10 Things” ratings dipped after one season. Still, it was a worthy attempt — it introduced us all to the acting talents of Gregory Peck’s grandson, Ethan, who took over the Ledger role — and some thought it was canceled too soon.
TV show: “The Firm” (NBC) January 2012 – July 2012
Lifespan: 1 season
Movie inspiration: “The Firm” in 1993
How true is the show to the movie? The character names and backstories were the same from both the John Grisham novel and the movie, where Mitch McDeere (originally Tom Cruise) is a lawyer who learns his fancy firm is owned by the mafia — and eventually rats them out to the FBI. Sadly, the TV version of Mitch (Josh Lucas) was a moron who thought it was fine for his family to resume normal life and leave witness protection after only 10 years. Because the mob always forgets. Is that the saying?
Was the show a good idea? In theory, sure, because the John Grisham book and the movie were both big hits. In practice? Yikes. NBC had made a 22-episode commitment so the network had to air them all, but after six episodes of shockingly low ratings, it was shipped from Thursday nights to Saturdays. Plus, the pilot started on shaky ground by introducing way too many storylines, only about two of them interesting.
TV show: “Teen Wolf” (MTV) June 2011 – present
Lifespan: Three seasons and counting (Season 4 starts June 23)
Movie inspiration: “Teen Wolf” in 1985
How true is the show to the movie? Um, both main characters are named Scott — that’s about it. In the movie, Michael J. Fox became a werewolf because it was genetic. In the TV show, (the super-ripped) Tyler Posey was bitten by another werewolf. Plus, the film was a comedy and MTV’s whole take is more “Twilight-y.”
Was the show a good idea? Oh yeah — it’s officially a big hit for MTV, which cashed in at the perfect time on the sci-fi fantasy teen phase that is apparently never ending. There’s even a “Teen Wolf” after-show.
TV show: “Parenthood” (NBC) March 2010 – current
Lifespan: Five seasons and counting (though on the bubble)
Movie inspiration: “Parenthood” in 1989
How true is the show to the movie? They’re both about large, dysfunctional families — similarities between the movie family (the Buckmans) and the newer version (the Bravermans) essentially stop there.
Was the show a good idea? There are diehard fans of the NBC series that would freak out if you even asked the question — that’s how passionate they are about the critically-beloved (but generally mediocre-rated) show. The drama has a passionate fanbase that’s probably saved it from cancellation for several years running, though it’s finally getting some recognition from NBC which has started renewing it for full seasons instead of 15-episode cycles. Either way, it turned out way better than NBC’s attempt for a similar show in 1990 right after the movie came out, and was canceled almost immediately. Apparently, it was one of a slew of failed TV shows based on movies at the time.
TV show: “Ferris Bueller” August 1990 – December 1990
Lifespan: 1 season
Movie inspiration: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
How true is the show to the movie? Besides using the same character names as the hit John Hughes flick, the show spun off in its own direction about mischievous high school students. Fun fact — Jennifer Aniston starred as sister Jeannie, played by Jennifer Grey in the film.
Was the show a good idea? No. Never. Terrible. A classic example of why big screen-to-small screen can be a bad idea. Critics hated it, and the smarmy lead character that wasn’t Matthew Broderick — and the show was canceled almost immediately.