Movies Turned TV Shows: They’re Not All as Awful as Zombieland

Tyler-Ross-Izabela-Vidovic-Kirk-Ward-and-Maiara-Walsh-in-ZOMBIELAND-TV-Series

I probably don’t need to tell you that Amazon Studios’ web version of 2009′s Zombieland is awful. You probably could have figured that out by noting that stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone have all been replaced with bland unknowns, the big-budget effects have been exchanged for weak B-movie schlock, and the humor has been usurped by lines that have the rhythm of jokes but aren’t actually funny.

At one point, Tallahassee slams shut a restroom door, announcing, “Talk about the post-apocalypse!” Are we supposed to laugh, or just feel sorry for these actors? They are doomed to portray characters that, in their original incarnations, were witty unique, and entertaining. However, here they come off as bad sitcom tropes gone wild.

It’s not an easy task to adapt a film into a television series. The ones that did it well are legend: Joss Whedon’s failed Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie turned into an epic and beloved TV show. M*A*S*H was first adapted for film in 1970, but the TV series that aired from 1972 to 1983 became a cultural touchstone for a whole generation (let’s not speak of AfterMASH).

friday night lightsBut shows like those are rarities. It’s far more common that TV adaptations end up like the ill-fated Ferris Bueller series (the original opening is something to behold, and includes a very young Jennifer Aniston). In recent years, we’ve seen cheap knock-offs of big-screen comedies like 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless and even My Big Fat Greek Wedding, all of which lacked charm or substance.

So why do some adaptations fail while others succeed? Friday Night Lights is a great example: The 2004 movie starred Billy Bob Thornton, and was a big success with critics. The 2006 TV drama used the same book by H. G. Bissinger as source material, but didn’t rely much on the original film. Kyle Chandler replaced Thornton, and the show moved from real-world Odessa, Texas, to imaginary Dillon, Texas, and set its focus on the character’s struggle to balance his obligations to his football team with those to his family. Friday Night Lights was ultimately a success because the showrunners adapted the story for the medium, rather than try to squish a film-style plot into an hour-long drama.

Zombieland might not seem like such a bad pilot if I hadn’t seen the movie on which it’s based. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who also penned the film, rely far too heavily on the success of the 2009 original without turning any new corners for the characters or presenting them with any new challenges to overcome. In the pilot, Wichita, Tallahassee, Little Rock and Columbus go looking for new friends (sort of haphazardly) only to have those potential buddies eaten by zombies one by one. Even if the premise of the movie Zombieland didn’t have too many more layers than that, it was original in its shambling, anxiety-ridden humor.

It’s possible to make something original out of something old, but this pilot doesn’t cut it. Hopefully, the sequel to Zombieland 2 will bring back the chemistry between these characters, and give us something to root for.

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Comments

  • Chuck

    Clueless the TV show was actually quite good and had most of the cast of the movie. Buffy the vampire slayer the movie is much better than it gets credit for.

  • Mr. Acer

    You forgot the granddaddy of all films-turned-shows that was successful: Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It started out as a 1961 film, then in 1964 became a TV series that lasted until 1968.

  • http://twitter.com/TheGr81SLASH Michael A Elizondo

    Yeah, I couldn’t last through 7 mins of the ZL tv show. I was so disgusted, I turned it off. It was crap.

  • nick

    this was a really good tv show, im sorry if your mad the actors couldnt come back for it, but it capture exactly what i liked about zombieland to begin with, the humor. it was hilarious how they couldnt keep anyone alive no matter what they did. everyonei personaly know who watched this also agreed it was pretty damn funny, and want more of it.

  • Washout

    The 10 Things TV show was very well-received.

  • Nik

    Hate to say it, but it’s not very good. I don’t mind the actors, I liked the premise, I just wish the jokes were funny. Watch the opening scene and then turn it off.

  • kel

    What channel was this on trying ti find it

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaffalycosa Toni Goodman

    Did you seriously not mention Stargate?

    Seriously?

  • http://twitter.com/TheGr81SLASH Michael A Elizondo

    Actually, it’s on amazon.com, but don’t bother. It stunk.

  • Dariche

    Wasn’t really a fan of the pilot. Zombieland has great potential as a series but they should of gone with new characters at least. Nobody could ever replace Woodie Harrlesons take on Tallahassee. And i felt some of the jokes felt pushed. It wasn’t terrible but it has the unforunate circumstance of no living up to the original.

  • BossMan

    Wow! You have a problem because this TV show doesn’t meet your very high expectations. Sure we all wanted the original cast back but if you knew that it was on a low budget then you’d know they can’t afford to get the cast back. Btw Buffy the vampire slayer is something I’m not even tempted to watch. But I will watch zombieland. Go suck a dick you fucking 80s bitch. If your so pissed why don’t you go down to the studios and complain rather than putting your opinion on the web like an absolute cunt flap.

  • Mistervimes

    “Odd Couple” — just sayin’.

  • kirbylee

    I can’t believe the personal attacks playing out here over what I think was one of the worst things I’ve ever watched. This ZOMBIELAND series is intensely hard to watch, a true example of how NOT to make not just a show based on a movie but a show at all. Its not just that the actors from the film aren’t back to play their now familiar parts, the writing is bad, the new actors seem uninterested and the show seems like it was made by folks who realized up front that the show was going to suck. My sympathies if you feel this show is inventive, entertaining, enlightening or any good whatsoever. It shows you have experienced little in the way of good programming or shows. Then again we are in an age when young people think JERSEY SHORE and PREGNANT AT 16 are good television.

  • Vincent Clarke

    1961? When was that?!?! ~wink~

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741548494 Mihir Miyangar

    I don’t think you should expect it to be like the film so much
    Personally I loved it, probably because I love everything zombie and I try to be unbiased towards remakes
    The actress Maiara Walsh playing Wichita isn’t an unknown actress btw

    Look at the us remake of the office, most people in that were unknowns at the time so its kinda silly to complain about that fact
    I really hope they continue this show, as it has much potential

  • this motha fucka

    Stupid asshole website dont dis a tv show, that is awesome. Its low budget but its more descent then yo ass could do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patty.gallagher.31 Patty Gallagher

    same here

  • Reese

    I actually enjoyed the show. Not fantastic acting, low quality special effects, and overall pretty bad, but it was freakin’ funny! And I’m not usually one for stupid humor. But come on, when they go into the old people’s house, wondering where they are: “Maybe they’ve fallen and can’t get up.” That’s hillarious!

  • http://twitter.com/Stefo89 Stefano

    I actually liked the TvShow.
    Well, the first episode at least.
    I loved the movie and it’s obviously better, but I’d give the show a chance.

  • george

    and ur an asshole, who fucks his own dog, the show was actually more entertianing then the movie

  • DobuleA

    Zombieland was originally a TV show that was ADAPTED into a movie. The writers said that the film was actually the first 2 episodes of the would-be TV series. I couldn’t finish the article because you didn’t do your homework first. LOL.