Against all odds, good taste, and common sense, the “Baywatch” movie is washing up on multiplex shores this week. If it’s successful as anticipated, it will likely inspire a new wave of film producers hunting for TV IP. This is a plea to hold fire.
It can work, of course. “Firefly” fans long begged for a movie version of the short-lived Joss Whedon series and got one in “Serenity”; “Deadwood” aficionados are similarly holding out for a big screen version of the HBO series. “Sex and the City,” “Twin Peaks,” “The X-Files,” and “The Simpsons” have all taken a run at the feature-length route, with some very mixed results. And recent hits like “Fargo,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Westworld” made the reverse jump from movie to series, while Justin Simien’s Sundance premiere “Dear White People” is now enjoying a healthy run as a Netflix series.
Still, that doesn’t mean that changing mediums is for everyone.
Ahead, nine television series that we hope are never, ever made into films.
Vince Gilligan’s classic AMC series has already been the subject of a fan-made movie version (it hit the web earlier this year, before eventually being yanked) and its whipsmart prequel “Better Call Saul” ably continues the legacy of good intentions run totally amok in Albuquerque, but that doesn’t mean it’s at all suited for its own film. For one thing, a sequel just… uh, well, wouldn’t make much sense (unless you’re eager to see what’s going on with the few characters who emerged from the gobsmacking finale even remotely intact, and even that sounds mostly depressing) and any kind of condensed retread would rob the series of so much of its slow-burn brilliance. Certain projects are simply made for the serialized medium, and “Breaking Bad” is one of Peak TV’s most sterling examples.
Given the recent uptick in “revivals” for beloved series (looking at you, “Will & Grace”), we’re about five minutes from NBC rolling out a new take on the long-running Must-See series, but god help us from being subjected to a film version. Both obvious possibilities — a sequel catch-up or some sort of weirdly recast feature version — sound seriously unappealing in vastly different ways. The sitcom ended with plenty of feel-good vibes, from Monica and Chandler getting a home of their own (not beholden to the ol’ “dead grandma left it to us” plot point that was so clearly shoehorned in to explain away their amazing apartment) to Phoebe settling in with hubby Paul Rudd to Ross and Rachel finally, finally working things out. (Joey, we can only assume, was just fine, especially once he got out from under that insane romantic entanglement with Rachel that no one asked for.) We don’t need to know where it went next, because if it wasn’t more happiness, what’s the point of raining on that parade?
Let the mystery be.
Theories as to “the real meaning” behind the ending of David Chase’s richly rewarding HBO series will continue, and that’s perfectly acceptable and exciting on its own. Sequels would rob that pleasure from the seminal mobster story, and a condensed take on its six seasons would be hellacious. (That said, a prequel series doesn’t sound entirely awful; a young Tony Soprano, why not?) Still, like “Breaking Bad,” “The Sopranos” benefited immensely from the possibilities and freedoms afforded by long-form storytelling. How could a feature film make room for diverting subplots like Christopher’s ill-conceived film career? How much time would a film spend with the boys down at the butcher? And you just know a film would run roughshod on the simmering intricacies of Tony’s relationship with Dr. Melfi. Keep this one in the (television) family, where it belongs.
Next page: “Mad Men” is deja vu all over again.