FX's Fargo, a 10-episode limited series inspired by the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers' film of the same name, is the latest property to transition from the big screen to the small screen. But will the show's completely new batch of characters and stories find success? Look back at some of the best and worst film-to-TV transformations.
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About A Boy
After successfully turning Friday Night Lights and Parenthood into hit TV series, About a Boy executive producer Jason Katims is hoping to go for three-for-three with this half-hour adaptation of the acclaimed 2002 film. David Walton takes Hugh Grant's place in the story about an immature, self-centered man who is inspired to finally grow up after spending time with his neighbor (Minnie Driver filling in for Toni Collette) and her young son. Although the show burned through the movie's plot in the first episode, it has found a small but consistent audience on NBC.
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NBC originally tried to turn the hit 1989 Steve Martin film into a TV show back in 1990. Despite a cast of such future stars as Leonardo DiCaprio, Thora Birch and David Arquette (not to mention writer Joss Whedon), the dramedy only lasted one season. NBC was much more successful in 2010 when a post-FNL Jason Katims loosely adapted the series. The family drama starring Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Erika Christensen and Dax Shepard, has become fan favorite thanks its relatable (and often heart-wrenching) storylines.
Photo by: Universal/Everett Collection; Colleen Hayes/NBC
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The 1992 film about a Valley girl turned vampire slayer camped up the script by Joss Whedon so much that he felt it was a different beast from what he had imagined. Critics weren't quite sure what to make of the goofy film and gave it mixed reviews. Whedon controlled his artistic vision with his much darker TV adaptation of the same name that ran from 1997 to 2003. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, the series not only earned beloved cult series status, but widespread critical acclaim that led to outrage when the series was snubbed by awards in the major categories. Buffy launched the careers of Whedon and the unknown cast, contributed numerous phrases to pop culture and spun off companion drama Angel.
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The 1986 John Hughes Ferris Bueller's Day Off is still considered a classic, but this1990 TV show is pretty much only known for featuring a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston. Why? For starters, talking to the camera is a lot harder than Matthew Broderick made it look, and series star Charlie Schlatter did not have the same ease and charm. Even worse was the bizarre way that the TV show presented itself as the "real-life" version of events and even referred to the movie as a poor copycat. The NBC comedy was dismissed after 13 episodes.
Add to Watchlist: Ferris Bueller
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The 1970 satirical black comedy about a group of misfit doctors working at a mobile Army hospital during the Korean War was one of director Robert Altman's most successful movies. Two years later, CBS enjoyed even more success when it brought the franchise to the small screen with Alan Alda and Wayne Rodgers subbing in for Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould. Before Buffy and Friday Night Lights, the series was one of the first to truly eclipse its movie counterpart. After 11 years and 14 Emmy awards, M*A*S*H*'s series finale was watched by 125 million viewers, which still stands as one of the most-watched TV events of all time.
Photo by: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection; CBS/Landov
Friday Night Lights
After only moderate success at the box office, most people would've forgotten the film ever existed if not been for the critically acclaimed NBC series that came two years later. While both the film and the show were based on the stories of real players, the only cast crossover was Connie Britton, who, as coach's wife Tami Taylor provided a never-ending string of great y'alls. The show, which was saved from cancellation by a partnership between NBC and DirecTV, ended its run with Emmy wins for creator Jason Katims and Kyle Chandler.
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So ABC replaces the wonderful Alicia Silverstone with the bland Rachel Blanchard and expected die-hard fans to swoon? As if! Although original stars Stacy Dash, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan and Wallace Shawn reprised their roles, ABC, and later UPN, toned down several key elements of the 1995 film for its TV adaptation, which lasted three seasons. In addition to making Cher less self-absorbed and completely tossing out her romantic relationship with ex-step-brother Josh, the series also shied away from some of the more controversial storylines covered in the film such as teen sex and drug use. Whatever!
Photo by: Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection; Paramount Television/Everett Collection
In the Heat of the Night
Before there were modern-day crime drama procedurals like Law & Order and CSI, there was In the Heat of the Night. The adaptation of the 1967 Oscar winner for Best Picture not only ran for seven seasons, but also represented the second chapter for All in the Family star Carroll O'Connor, who starred as the chief of a racist, small-town police force opposite African-American police detective Virgil Tibbs (Howard Rollins). Like the film, the series was praised for its equal attention to the grisly crimes and the lives of those solving them.
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Luc Besson's 1990 French-Italian action-thriller La Femme Nikita seduced filmgoers so much that it spawned two film remakes (America's Point of No Return and Hong Kong's Black Cat), the USA cult series of the same name and, ultimately, the CW's Nikita. Like the original film, Nikita tells the story of a drug addict juvenile delinquent (Maggie Q) who is sentenced to death row, but is saved and trained to be an assassin by a shadowy organization. On major point of departure, however, is the romance Nikita shares with someone within the organization (modeled after the USA series) and the addition of a protégé, Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca). And while the series had a loyal following, it brought in tepid numbers and lived on the bubble every year until its abbreviated, six-episode fourth and final season.
Add to Watchlist: Nikita
Photo by: Samuel Goldwyn/courtesy Everett Collection; Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
The Odd Couple
Neil Simon's successful 1965 Broadway play became a successful 1968 movie, which then gave birth to the 1970 sitcom starring Tony Randall as uptight neat freak Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as his laid-back roommate Oscar Madison. Developed for TV by comedy veteran Garry Marshall, the series was praised for staying true to the play and received three Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Series. The show lasted five seasons and also spawned an animated series and a 1982 reboot series on ABC featuring an African-American cast. (CBS is currently developing yet another reboot starring Matthew Perry.)
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My Big Fat Greek Life
No amount of Windex could save this CBS adaptation of the runaway hit romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The series featured nearly the exact same cast except for the charismatic John Corbett, who was replaced by the personality-less Steven Eckholdt. Although a little conventional and predictable, the biggest problem My Big Fat Greek Life likely suffered from was extremely high (read: unreachable) expectations after the film took in $241.4 million. The honeymoon was over for CBS after just seven weeks.
Add to Watchlist: My Big Fat Greek Life
Photo by: IFC Films/The Kobal Collection; CBS/Landov
CBS successfully recruited cast members from the hit 1980 movie, including Hal Williams and Eileen Brennan in her Oscar-nominated role, for the half-hour sitcom about a spoiled socialite who must adjust to life in the Army. Despite lacking original star Goldie Hawn, who was replaced by Lorna Patterson, the series won over viewers and critics, who awarded Brennan a Golden Globe award and an Emmy for her performance. However, Brennan was hit by a car during the show's third season and was subsequently temporarily replaced by Polly Holliday. The comedy was canceled soon after.
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The 1973 box office hit, about an NYPD police officer who risks his life to unmask the vast corruption within the force, helped Al Pacino's star rise higher after his breakout role in The Godfather. However, the same could not be said for the 1976 NBC crime drama, which starred David Birney in the title role. After a TV movie and 14 episodes, the network unceremoniously retired the series.
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Decades after the release of the '80s cult flick, most people were skeptical that a network, especially MTV, was attempting to make Teen Wolfinto a series. While the comedy film starred Michael J. Fox just before his career exploded, the series chose to cast lesser known actors. To the surprise of many, the series has been successful for the network, taking the original hokey premise and amping up the sexiness, the stakes and the supernatural for today's audience.
Photo by: MGM/Everett Collection; MTV
Like many adaptations, this one suffered by replacing an irreplaceable star. In this case, it was Kevin Meaney stepping in for the late John Candy. The 1990 show employed a slightly darker premise than the 1989 film — instead of going out of town to help care for a sick relative like in the movie, Buck is made permanent guardian when the children's parents die in a car accident. The show received less-than-favorable reviews and, combined with low ratings, was canceled after the first season.
Photo by: Universal/The Kobal Collection; CBS/Landov
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
The highly anticipated Fox sci-fi series picked up after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and followed Sarah and her son John's attempts to stop the evil organization Skynet from going online and eventually declaring war on humankind. In its first season, the show earned high ratings and big praise, particularly for cast members including Lena Headey, Summer Glau and Brian Austin Green. However, the show's launch during the 2007-2008 writers' strike led to a shortened first season and a year later, high production costs forced Fox to axe it.
Photo by: TriStar Pictures/Everett Collection; Patrick Eccelsine/The WB/The Kobal Collection
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
This 1992 TV series, starring Sean Patrick Flannery in the role made famous by Harrison Ford, was an ambitious undertaking by Indy mastermind George Lucas. The hourlong action-adventure series depicted Jones' interactions with historical figures ranging from Ernest Hemingway to Al Capone. The only problem? The series' price tag proved too costly for ABC, which pulled the plug after two seasons, but brought it back for four two-hour TV movies.
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Before spending her days on speeding buses and floating in space, Sandra Bullock followed in Melanie Griffith's footsteps as an aspiring Staten Island girl suddenly stomping the Manhattan sidewalks as a corporate secretary. The short-lived 1990 NBC sitcom was more of a loose interpretation of the 1988 hit film, with Bullock's Tess McGill simply trying to keep her head above water in a dog-eat-dog world. The series also featured a young George Newbern (Scandal) as Tess' charming but ambitious love interest and Anthony Tyler Quinn as the Staten Island heartbreaker vying for Tess' heart.
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