mod squad

10 Movies…That Are Based on Old TV Shows That Probably Aren’t As Good as ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Star Trek Into Darkness is probably the first sequel to a reboot of a prior film franchise that itself was based on a TV series. That said, the movies, both the new ones and the ones in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s about the adventures of Shatner “Darth Vader” Skywalker and his little brother, Dr. Spock, have all been very good, unlike these often cheap, cynically produced movies based on old TV shows that were all the rage in the 1990s. Here are 10 you’ve probably forgotten about.

The Avengers

There were lots of permutations of this ‘60s British action show, but the only one anybody remembers is the one with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, and that’s because she wore skintight leather. Uma Thurman did her due diligence, and also wore tight clothing.

Lost in Space

This show was charming because of its low-budget, low-fi aesthetic, which allowed the family drama surrounding a family lost in space to shine through somewhat earnestly. The big budget remake was wildly miscast, and is your chance to see William Hurt and Joey from Friends kicking space ass and taking space names.

The Mod Squad

Some shows should stay in the past because they are embarrassingly and awkwardly dated, such as The Mod Squad, which featured the daring-in-the’60s concept of a trio of spies, one of which was white, one of which was a woman, and one of which was African-American. By 1998, those demographics were no longer novel, so The Mod Squad movie was just a generic action movie that catered to teens who had to ask their parents what the word “mod” meant.

The Nude Bomb

Before they made the 2008 one with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, they made a movie version of Mel Brooks classic spy spoof Get Smart in 1980 and called it The Nude Bomb. The movie tanked, but the title (which concerned a terrorist plot to destroy clothes—hello, outdated ‘60s plotline!) clearly inspired the title of The Naked Gun movies, which in turn were based on Police Squad!

Car 54, Where Are You?

The grimiest, dirtiest TV cop show until The Wire came along, Car 54, Where Are You aired for three inconsequential seasons in the early ‘60s and was made into a movie in 1990 starring John C. McGinley and David Johansen of the New York Dolls. The always cheap Orion Pictures funded it, went bankrupt, and it wasn’t released until 1994.

Sgt. Bilko

An innovative, dark early TV comedy—rare for early TV—the show starred the great Phil Silvers and was actually called The Phil Silvers Show or You’ll Never Get Rich, as it concerned an army guy, Sgt. Bilko, always trying and failing to pull off a scam or “bilk” people out of money. Silvers was a massive star because of the show and closely identified with the part. It would be like trying to make a movie out of The Cosby Show with another actor and calling it Huxtable. But that’s what Sgt. Bilko was, with the usually genius Steve Martin trying his best to fill Silvers’ shoes.

Thunderbirds

Two movies about yay-America jet-flying military kickass marionette puppets came out in 2004: Trey Park and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police, and Thunderbirds, based on the ‘60s TV puppet show. Team America was a classic, and Thunderbirds was one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, because it was an uninspired live-action take on the source material. Fun fact: I just now realized that this movie was live-action and not made with marionettes because Bill Paxton will do that to you.

Wild, Wild West

“New York’s hottest club is Wild, Wild West. This places has everything. African-American cowboys, a regretful Kevin Kline, and respected Shakespearean actors laughing maniacally atop mechanical spiders.”

Leave It To Beaver

At least the two The Brady Bunch movies solved their conceit of how to present a highly time-specific story in the modern day by just having their characters just not being aware that it’s the modern day. Leave It to Beaver is so definitively, exquisitely ‘50s of a property that nostalgia failed to make it interesting in the modern day—it seems like an alien planet’s idea of American life. Also, like Sgt. Bilko, it was powered by a cult of personality, in this case, Jerry Mathers as “the Beaver,” and you just laughed at that and that’s why this movie didn’t work.

Mr. Magoo

Ha-ha-ha! It’s funny because he’s blind.




  • http://twitter.com/mordalo Mordalo

    I’d forgotten about some of those so-called “movies”. Thank you so much for reminding me…

  • K664

    M. Night Shaymalan’s The Last Airbender is much worse.

  • Tom Khan

    Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone forgot Wild Wild West. And I don’t know if the upcoming TV remake would help the old TV show escape the shadow of that godawful film adaptation. Just be glad there was no sequel for it like it’s fellow 1999 flop Baby Geniuses that made things worse (Superbabies). And even after Bob Clark’s death, there are more direct-to-video sequels coming! God! Can you imagine a Wild Wild West 2 that makes things worse? And it wouldn’t even have A-Listers like Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek, and Kenneth Branagh (who didn’t even help the movie either), nor Barry Sonnenfeld’s directing. More like a B-movie cast and director that would make it suck even more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KrazyJoe Joe Fiore

    Most of these movies are just terrible, but Sgt. Bilko was actually legitimately a great film. Steve Martin was hilarious in it, and the script was quite clever and funny.

    The Nude Bomb also has it’s charms. It’s nowhere near as good as the TV series, but Don Adams is always so good in the role of Max Smart that the film is able to coast off of that charm.

    The other films on the list? Unwatchable…..