Cinema today is in the Era of The Adaptation, with studios looking to TV for their big ideas. It’s not surprising – the cost of making a film these days necessitates a level of high-confidence about its chances, and a built-in fan-base goes a long way to ensuring that bums hit seats upon release. What is a surprise, however, is how few films are based on television series. We’re unlikely to ever see Jon Hamm’s Don Draper on the big screen, and the chances of a Friends-reunion dips with every passing year. Poor Joey may never get his Hollywood break ...
There are many reasons for the lack of this particular adaptation. Television show runners are notoriously protective about their product – resenting the idea of hot shot Hollywood producers putting their fingers all over their carefully cultivated creations. Then there’s the issue of actors too, feeling that the role has run its natural course. But the most significant, is that everyone involved understands the hugely delicate balancing act of ensuring that the film doesn’t alienate the television show’s original fan-base – a passionate audience that may have invested a couple of hours a week into a series over many years – all whilst expanding to reach a fresh new audience.
There have been some clangers over the years. Live-action recreations of children’s classics in particular have proved hit and miss at the best of times. There is something inherently strange – nay, creepy – about grown adults sporting the clothes of cartoon characters: which is probably why it is only really acceptable on Halloween. Thunderbirds (complete with Busted themetune), The Flinstones, and Sarah Michelle-Gellar-starring Scooby-Doo all drew ire from television viewers. (And nobody mention 'Sex and the City 2' during this conversation!)
Two more cabs off the block are 'Spooks: The Greater Good' (out today in cinemas) and the upcoming, highly-anticipated 'Entourage Movie'. Both have secured plenty of plenty of their original series' DNA, with superspy Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) returning to the 'Spooks' film, and Vincent Chase, brother Drama, driver Turtle, manager 'E' and their impassioned agent Ari Gold all staying within the 'Entourage'.
From first viewings, both these films have managed the rare feat of keeping the original beloved chemistry of their shows intact, while expanding and pushing the narrative further on to justify a big screen outing.
In 'Spooks: The Greater Good', it is intelligence chief Harry Pearce who has been pushed outside the system, suspected of treachery and having to rely on his protege Will Holloway ('Game of Thrones' star Kit Harington) to clear his name.
Over in 'Entourage: The Movie' (on release from 19 June), it looks like Vince's dreams will all come true, when his former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is made the head of a studio, able to greenlight all and any project. He wants Vince... ah, but Vince wants to direct.
To mark the arrival of these two hopefully great films, we've compiled our top ten favourites of those TV shows without so much as a bump... cross fingers both 'Spooks: The Greater Good' and 'Entourage: The Movie' do at least this well.
'Entourage' Series 1 to 8 is available on DVD boxset and digital download.
'Spooks' fans can find Season Eight of the spy spectacular, which enjoys its channel premiere on Sony Entertainment Television (Sky 157, Virgin 193, BT and TalkTalk 454) on Tuesday 12th May, from 9pm, and plays weekly.