Debuting on Animal Planet tomorrow is a three-part series titled “Blood Dolphins.” It’s somewhat based on the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” which exposed dolphin slaughter in Japan, and the first episode, titled “Return to Taiji” seems to be almost a sequel to the film (the other episodes take us to The Solomon Islands). Meanwhile, another recent Oscar-winner, “The Hurt Locker,” has inspired a TV series of its own. Titled “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan,” it will be a reality series following a U.S. Navy bomb squad from training through deployment.
It’s funny that in terms of branding, neither of these series is officially related to the Academy-honored films they’re clearly spun off from. It’s not “The Cove: The Series” or “The Real Hurt Locker.” To follow the trend, I have selected five other 2010 Oscar-winning films that could loosely inspire TV series for which producers needn’t acquire any rights. Despite the ease of doing so, I didn’t include “Star Trek,” both because it was a TV series to begin with and the franchise has already spawned copycats in the past.
“Second Chance Idol”
inspired by “Crazy Heart”
Here’s another show for washed-up celebrities, but it’s a bit more positive than most. It’d be like “American Idol” but all the contestants have already had their prime in the music business and are now relatively forgotten. Comeback attempts are already common in reality television. However, this one lets you (the viewer) decide if the former pop star is worthy. It would also be a good place for people like Deborah Gibson and Tiffany to reference or rekindle their rivalry with song rather than a cameo cat fight in a bad SyFy movie.
“Quentin Tarantino’s What If… “
inspired by “Inglourious Basterds”
This could be either a docu-series on The History Channel, in which Tarantino would present new faux docs like “C.S.A.: The Confederate State of America” and “Death of a President,” or it could be another alternate history sci-fi show like “Sliders” and kind of the final season of “Quantum Leap.” Tarantino would serve as an executive producer, and for the most part the show would likely rewrite civil rights history and do for groups like the Ku Klux Klan what he did to the Nazis in “Basterds.” It’d also be neat to see him ponder hypothetical alternatives to film history and tragedies like the Manson Family murders.
inspired by “Up”
A travel series in which elderly couples are followed on their last-chance vacations before they die. Yes, that sounds extremely sad in concept, but at least in this show the husband and wife are still together, unlike the weepy circumstances in Pixar’s animated film. Another idea for the title, but maybe too harsh: “Final Vacation.”
inspired by “Logorama”
That title may be too on the nose as far as ripping off the Oscar-winning animated short, but then the makers of “Logorama” couldn’t really say anything about copyright infringement, could they? Besides, this cartoon series would be as much based on the MasterCard commercial titled “Icons,” which features a number of brand mascots from Pinnacle, Proctor & Gamble, Kraft, General Mills and ConAgra (and maybe others I’m forgetting). Just one of these companies could likely do a cartoon show with its own brand icons alone — kind of like what Hasbro is doing with its upcoming “Night at the Museum” meets “Toy Story” movie “Hasbro Factory” — though for such easy advertising capability, it might be best for them to work together as they did for the commercial.
inspired by “The Young Victoria”
The last pitch was a toss up between this and something that would give “Avatar” a knock-off animated series, but the latter is too plausible without my help. Or, at least the movie should get its own cartoon eventually anyway. So instead here is an animated show that’s part “Muppet Babies,” part “League of Extraordinary Men” and part, yes, “Young Victoria.” Because as long as Hollywood has the need to give every historical figure and character an early life focus with “Young” in the title, it should also go further and make “Babies” versions of as much things as possible. Not that a show like this would require authenticity of any sort, but here are some other figures born in or around 1819 who could join Baby Victoria in the royal playroom: Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglas and Emily Bronte.