The Inbetweeners, Movie: Could This Be A Rare Thing… A Good Spin-Off?August 19, 2011
One of my favourite TV shows is going big this week. The Inbetweeners is a comedy from Channel 4 about four suburban sixth form boys, with sixth form boy obsessions, mainly sex (or lack of it). They are Will (the nerdy one), Simon (the neurotic one), Jay (the boastful one, who has the least to boast about) and Neil (the thick one). The comedy is extremely filthy and very, very funny. And now they’ve made it to the silver screen.
It’ll probably do very well, but the road is littered with TV shows adapted for film that tanked, because the thing that made the show fabulous in the first place got lost in translation once committed to celluloid. For some reason, many of our favourite British shows of the 60s and 70s stank to high heaven on film. Let me list a few. If you want to seek them out, on your head be it.
Steptoe and Son. Warring father and son rag and bone team. Brilliant comedy in half hour snippets: horrendous in one overlong 90-minute chunk.
Morecambe and Wise. A genius comic duo that made you thank the sweet baby Jesus for Christmas TV: by the end of the movies (there were three!) you were praying for sweet merciful release.
Are You Being Served? The sitcom set in a department store was transplanted to a Spanish holiday resort for this film. It was shocking.
Up Pompei! Frankie Howerd was funny. This film was not.
The Avengers. Wonderful quirky British agent caper turned woefully dull with a miscast Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes. Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson and Patrick Macnee have nothing to worry about.
It’s not just us Brits with the dodgy TV to film adaptations. The Americans have a Library of stinkers. Here are some of the shows I grew up with, or simply liked, that died on celluloid.
Bewitched. There was always a twinkle in the eye of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha the witch. You couldn’t get a twinkle in the eye of Nicole Kidman if you’d squirted it with lemon juice.
Scooby Doo. The only remarkable thing about this movie was finding someone who actually looked like Shaggy. Matthew Lillard was very good. Rhys Ifans would’ve been a credible substitute.
Lost in Space. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Bad remake! Bad remake!
Thunderbirds. The puppets in the original series were more animated than the real life counterparts in this version made for the Bieber generation.
Sex And The City. I thought it stopped with the last episode of the final series. There’s a reason you don’t try and bring back the dead.
There are a few adaptations however, which I think have worked well. I’m thinking of Starsky and Hutch and The Brady Bunch Movie. I think this may be because they were played for laughs. In the case of the Brady Bunch Movie, placing a sitcom family from the 60s into the modern day, with all the cultural clashes that would result, was genius in my opinion. Then there are the Naked Gun films, the robust progeny of the TV show Police Squad, held together by the deadpan delivery and deep Canadian burr of Leslie Nielsen.
This is but a very small list. I know you’ll have your own favourites and eye gougers in the world of TV-to-film spin-off. So come on… let’s have it!