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14 TV Shows That Would Actually Make Great Movies (and Why)

14 TV Shows That Would Actually Make Great Movies (and Why)

The Newsroom

Say what you will about Aaron Sorkin’s divisive HBO drama — the story of a rogue newsroom taking back the airwaves one truthful report at a time would make for a helluva movie. Sorkin has already shown an impressive ability to turn the most unfilmable tales into brilliant and captivating movies (“The Social Network,” even better, “Moneyball”), so he should have no problem penning a 120-minute version of his three-season TV show — or better yet, a follow-up.

Fans could take it as the extension they deserve (six episodes for the final season? we need more!) and haters could view it as the apology they feel entitled to (it’s true that “The Newsroom” is no “West Wing”). More importantly, Sorkin has the basis for the film, its mission statement if you will, already built in from the dialogue of the first season. Will McAvoy, while pivoting to his new coda, argues where the whole “broadcast news” system went wrong was when Congress failed to stipulate with its gift of the airwaves to the four major networks, they provide commercial-free news programs instead of just an hour of news. McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) said as much on the air, and Sorkin has confirmed the belief in person on numerous occasions. 

So why not build a film around it? Though we don’t know how Season 3 will end, imagine “The Newsroom” as a redemptive tale. McAvoy has returned to being a corporate puppet, after trying and failing to fight the good fight. Mackenzie left him in the process while the rest of the news team has scattered to the wind. Yet one intrepid reporter is there to save them: Neal Sampat. Yes, Dev Patel’s internet genius “gets the band back together” for a new 21st century news show after he somehow discovers how to make internet news profitable. This way, bloggers sick of Sorkin’s tirades against Twitter are satisfied, while fans are given an underdog — with relevant, topical content — to root for. And, just as importantly, Sorkin could repurpose his (in)famous line, “I single-handedly fixed the internet,” for the benefit of us all. 

READ MORE: Watch: ‘The Newsroom’ Season 3 Trailer Admits ‘We Don’t Do Good TV’

“American Horror Story”

Why make a film spinoff of an anthology series when “American Horror Story” co-creator Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have proven the anthology format to be delicious? The answer is simple: It’s about the challenge. Not the challenge presented by the change in medium, but rather the opportunity to reshape the public’s understanding of horror storytelling on the big screen.

With each season of “American Horror Story,” Murphy and Falchuk have not only explored and inhabited multiple storytelling spaces and points-of-view, but in doing so, they have also managed to generate a renewed appreciation for grotesque, expressionist horror as opposed to the gory, slasher content that has overtaken much of the genre. By moving over to film, Murphy and Falchuk can not only bring their penchant for the grotesque back to horror filmmaking, but perhaps also use it to toy with other romantic filmic spaces such as the western and the deep South.

READ MORE: Before ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ There Was Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’

The X-Files (3)”

We know, we know, “The X-Files” has had two film incarnations already — but with a mess of a final season, and an established but lingering alien colonization date of December 22, 2012, fans are still awaiting a finalization of the epic invasion that the show had set up for itself. 
Dare I say it, but damn the idea an additional “X-Files” movie would have to also cater to non-fans. We X-Philes are still here and we want answers, dammit. Not only did the show leave a few hanging threads that need to be addressed, but we want to see the big screen alien invasion that was promised. A third “X-Files” film could not only wrap up the established mythology, but it could be an intense, sci-fi action film only made better by the advancements in technology and the serious acting chops of stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Plus, where the heck is baby William? Get on this Chris Carter! Or should we blame Fox? 
In a 2013 interview with Empire Magazine, Carter said, “It’s really up to 20th Century Fox, whether they have the will to do it. I think all of us are interested in putting the band back together. I have an idea for a third movie in my head. The colonization date has passed…and that is something we wouldn’t ignore.”

So is a third “X-Files” movies on the horizon? I want to believe.

READ MORE: Great Job, ‘Birdman,’ But ‘The X-Files’ Did It First


Hear the title “Dynasty” and you’re likely to think “dated” — you’ll remember the puffy sleeves, the catfights, maybe even Sammy Jo’s breathtaking dance. But with a couple tweaks, this iconic ’80s soap could be transformed into a 2010s-era feature.

Think about it: Denver, where “Dynasty” is set, is particularly fresh on the lips. Searing, high-powered boardroom drama never goes out of style.  Successful soaps like “American Horror Story” and “Scandal” show us that the time is right for camp with a capital “C.”

(Unfortunately for die-hard fans, some elements of the show will inevitably get the axe — much as it would be thrilling to see Joan Collins reprise her role of Alexis, we all know it’s probably time to give up that particular ghost.)

READ MORE: The 5 Actors ‘Twin Peaks’ Will Be Missing When It Returns in 2016


Adam Reed and his “Archer” writers’ room have already proven themselves capable of constructing an equally satisfying product at greater length (phrasing!). “Heart of Archness: Parts 1-3” were basically a made-for-TV movie divided into three parts, and the two-part season finales “Sea Tunt” and “Space Race” weren’t far off, so it’s not hard to imagine Archer, Lana and their child entering the danger zone on the big screen.

The animation is already at cinematic levels, as well, often exploring new action extremes in great detail with an experimental eye. Finding a satisfying arc for the core group wouldn’t be hard — Archer is up for anything, as we’ve seen — but incorporating the whole crew into a madcap misadventure might be more difficult. Given how seamlessly they pulled off the fever dream of “Archer Vice,” however, nothing seems impossible for the former ISIS members.

READ MORE: 17 Bits of H. Jon Benjamin Wisdom 

Penny Dreadful

Like “American Horror Story” above, Showtime’s horror series is very much of the cinematic mindset. It comes from the mind of a three-time Oscar nominee, features his singular, unique perspective, and is constructed as though it’s an eight-hour film. While not an anthology series like its predecessor on FX, Logan’s labor of love could very well benefit from bringing a one-off mentality to the big screen.

“Penny’s” characters are fascinating: From Ethan Chandler’s secretive sharpshooter (Josh Hartnett) to the show-stopping turn from Eva Green as psychic-turned-demon-possessee Vanessa Ives, they’ve already proven themselves worthy of vast exploration — more than a movie could offer. That wouldn’t, however, prohibit fun from being had in a close-ended adventure on the big screen. Penny Dreadfuls were originally 10-cent pulp horror stories. They weren’t connected. If Logan wants to pay true homage to the source material, a movie would be the perfect means by which to do so. Plus, he could undoubtedly find inspiration in any of the novels he consistently draws from, or even real-world events of the time — Jack the Ripper perhaps?

READ MORE: Showtime Renews ‘Penny Dreadful’ For Season 2 Thanks to High On Demand Viewership


A “Community” movie might seem, to some, like an inevitability. After all, the scrappy little show has managed to achieve the once-prophesied goal of a sixth season against all odds, and completing the hashtag — #sixseasonsandamovie — must be satisfied.

Doubters, though, have a legitimate reason for wondering if a movie version of Dan Harmon’s genre-bending sitcom would work on the big screen: For one thing, what the hell would it actually be? A 90-minute bottle episode? A shot-for-shot remake of “Serenity”? A frantic mash-up of every pop culture parody the show didn’t get to?

The thing is, that last option sounds rather appealing, and one of the show’s greatest strengths was delivering cinematic flare with its tiny TV budget. (The paintball episodes — yes, all of the paintball episodes, not just the first one, come at me bro — remain masterworks.) Given a larger sandbox, it’s fun to imagine what kind of insane sandcastle they’d build — and harder to imagine them failing any attempt.

READ MORE: Why Yahoo Took a Risk on ‘Community’ Season 6

Friday Night Lights

If your immediate response to reading the title above was, “There already was a ‘Friday Night Lights’ movie,” then you better get a Netflix subscription and treat yourself to the best television show of all time (besides, maybe, “The Wire”). As wrenching and relevant as Peter Berg’s 2004 big screen adaptation of Buzz Bissinger’s book was, Billy Bob Thornton’s coach doesn’t hold a candle to Kyle Chandler’s Coach, capitalization intended. Berg’s collaboration with Jason Katims for NBC was a much more fruitful endeavor than the original film, spanning five remarkable seasons and driving interest in a movie adaptation all its own.

In a recent interview with Indiewire, Katims said he’d worked on a script for a movie with Brian Grazer and Peter Berg, the same core group who helped make the show. While things fell through due to people’s schedules (Chandler is in high demand these days and neither he nor Taylor Kitsch were ever too keen on returning), we have no doubt the feature-length screenplay would have been of an equal standard to the series. It may be time to put the issue to bed, but that’s doesn’t mean the movie wouldn’t be great. If only we could read that script…

READ MORE: ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Parenthood’ Creator Jason Katims on When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Bored to Death

Thanks to a recent interview with Jason Schwartzman at Cinema Blend, we know there’s a “Bored to Death” movie in the works. Creator Jonathan Ames, who shares a name with the lead character Schwartzman played on the HBO comedy, is working on a film script while simultaneously writing two seasons of the new Starz comedy “Blunt Talk.” It may be a while before anything comes to fruition — if ever, given the comedy’s low ratings — but hope is out there for a Jonathan, Ray and George Christopher reunion. 

Interestingly enough, Schwartzman also pointed out in the interview that the “Bored to Death” team already knew what Season 4 was going to be about. Whether or not that would translate well to a feature story is obviously unknown, but a a feature could work just fine if the show continued to up the drama attached to Jonathan’s private eye related adventures. Season 3, the series’ last, had some of the show’s most emotional moments yet, as well as some of the more heart-stopping (Jonathan dangling from the clock tower and being held hostage stand out). Let P.I. Ames catch a case with enough twists to last 90 minutes — and give George Christopher and Ray reason to get involved — and “Bored to Death” could even prove to be a better movie than a series.

READ MORE: HBO May Actually Make That ‘Bored to Death’ Movie


Although Graham Yost and his team of writers have used the complicated history between the Crowder and Givens families as the impetus for much of the action that takes place over the course of the series, the intricacies of this history have yet to be explored to the fullest extent. The series only digs into the history of Harlan County family feuds in the context of the present narrative — leaving the rather nebulous past unexplored and ripe for film development.
Besides acknowledging the existence of certain past events and characters that the series has already provided an introduction to, Yost would, for the most part, have an impressive degree of flexibility in developing a film narrative set during the years leading up to the events that unfold during the run of the series. On the one hand, Yost could use a film spinoff to examine the strange alliance that Sheriff Shelby, a.k.a. fugitive Drew Thompson, set up with Boyd Crowder’s father Bo and Raylan Givens’ father Arlo upon parachuting down into Harlan County some twenty years prior.

Alternatively, Yost could develop a film around butcher Ellstin Limehouse and the community of Noble’s Holler. Either way, a “Justified” film spinoff that reaches into the past has the potential to satisfy ardent fans who are not just content with seeing resolution in the present, but rather, can only achieve said resolution through a re-examination of the events that brought them, both audience and characters, to this point.


One of the summer’s great guilty pleasures, this El Rey Network original series had a delightfully high concept premise: Undercover DEA agent goes even more undercover as a professional soccer player to get closer to Alfred Molina, who is trying to take over the world. The combination of solid action, sports drama and undercover hijinks has tons of potential for a light spy thriller [Editor’s Note: or effective grindhouse fare], one that executive producer/director Robert Rodriguez has already proven able to execute on the big screen. Let Roberto Orci remain as the writer (because Rodriguez’s work is perhaps stronger when he’s just directing) and get ready for an exciting ride. 

READ MORE: How Can Unknown Cable Shows Score Some Buzz?


See “Matador,” but without the soccer. Or, actually, see “Mission: Impossible III,” which J.J. Abrams was picked to direct because Tom Cruise binge-viewed the first season of Abrams’ grad-student-turned-spy series and loved it. “M:I:III” launched Abrams’ film career, but also proved that a light touch with this genre works well — applying the same tone to the continued adventures of Sydney Bristow, bad-ass superspy/mom trying to have it all, would make for a fun two hours.

READ MORE: Jennifer Garner on the Dangers of the Internet and Which of Her Films Breaks Her Heart

“The Good Wife”

Here are some basic facts about legal drama “The Good Wife”: it has one of the best casts on network television, hands down. It has a surprisingly sharp understanding of technology and current pop culture. And it makes pulling off a compelling procedural story each week, while also balancing a dozen other ongoing plot threads, look easy.

How would that translate to a movie? Well, you’d end up with a strong ensemble film that combined political intrigue with the pursuit of justice, but with a fresher outlook on any number of 21st century issues than your standard legal drama. “The Good Wife” as a film would be 90s-era John Grisham, reborn, and, arguably much, much improved. 

READ MORE: ‘The Good Wife’ Debate: Should Emmy Voters Consider the Number of Episodes in a Season Along with its Quality?

Party Down

By now, what makes a film version of “Party Down” such a fascinating concept is how long it’s been since the series went off the air. Even though it’s only been four years, each of its stars has moved on to bigger — if not necessarily better — things. Adam Scott is on “Parks and Recreation” and is building a solid indie film canon. Lizzy Caplan is doing the same while earning accolades for “Masters of Sex.” Ken Marino just launched the new series “Marry Me” on NBC, and the rest of the cast has had their shot at tasting fame and fortune as well (even Martin Starr, long underutilized by the biz, is now a regular on HBO’s “Silicon Valley”).

So would series creators John Enbom, Dan Etheridge, Paul Rudd and Rob Thomas want to incorporate its real-life actors’ successes into the dynamic of a film story, perhaps allowing most of the old catering crew to have broken through to the big time while poor Henry is still stuck tending bar? The writers used the time between seasons to their advantage once before, as Henry “Are we having fun yet?” Pollard became even more invested in the Party Down company in the interim of Seasons 1 & 2. As more and more wannabe actors flood Los Angeles in pursuit of the impossible dream, “Party Down’s” examination of the right and wrong reasons to get into showbiz — and how they don’t matter in the long run — is still very relevant today. A film could tell a broader, more personal narrative, even if it’s about the very thing the cast and crew still rely on for, you know, a career. Just don’t shit where you eat, right?

READ MORE: 7 Reasons ‘Party Down’ Is Your Next Must-See Series (That You’ve Hopefully Already Seen)

Casey Ciprani, Jake Folsom, Shipra Gupta, Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers contributed to this list. 

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