This is a category that kept popping into my head back when I was doing this post and this one. With "Sex and the City" fans all atwitter about their gal pals being back, I thought first, "would a Sopranos reunion on the big screen be a good thing?" I decided not, as a large part of its appeal was its serial, episodic nature, day-in, day-out, life goes on (except for those who are whacked).
But this raises the question, "Can any TV series yield a movie worth the price of the popcorn (which, when you think about it, is a pretty high standard)?"
And the answer is yes — just look at "Serenity." So I compiled this list. Admittedly, it’s a pretty restrictive list, and doesn’t contain any movies that would make even a Top 100 list from among films in general. And I’m not allowing movies inspired by TV series, but with a different cast — a la "The Untouchables," or "The Addams Family." So the list is what it is. And what it is is an excuse to urge you to see "Serenity" if you haven’t. The rest is just a nod to the Top Five art form, in keeping with the Nick Hornby standard:
- "Serenity" — I saw this without having ever seen "Firefly," upon which it is based, which means I was like most people in the known ‘verse. "Firefly," probably the best sci-fi series ever, lasted less than a season. I now own the whole catalog on DVD, including several episodes never aired. How to describe it? Basically, it’s a classic western translated to outer space (in the vein of the "Outland" remake of "High Noon," only wittier), complete with the residual tension of the Civil War thrown in. The protagonists are a motley ship’s company built around a captain and exec who were Browncoats (rebels) back in the war. Their side lost to the Alliance, which rules all the core planets in the settled universe, and their ship (a Firefly-class relic named "Serenity," after the pivotal battle in which the Browncoats lost the war) bounces around the frontier fringe planets (where Alliance authority is shaky), making an iffy living off of smuggling and other shady enterprises. There are all sorts of cool little side notes in this future world, including the fact that their Old West diction is laced with Chinese-derived profanity — when they’re not resorting to such everyday epithets as "gorram," and "ruttin’". The characters are a lot of fun, especially Jayne the mercenary, and Kaylee the mechanic. And the best news of all is that you can see and enjoy "Serenity" without ever having seen the series, and it gives nothing away. But after you see the movie, you’ll want to see the series. Oh, one more thing — the Browncoats are essentially libertarians who just want the authoritarian Alliance to leave them alone. But I enjoyed it anyway. It was shiny.
- "The Simpsons Movie" — It lived up to the standard set by the series, which is all you can ask.
- "The Blues Brothers" — This one’s kind of obvious, to the point that I’m almost embarrassed to include it. Everybody picks this one.
- "The Naked Gun" — A fitting translation of "Police Squad," it is what it is (just to thoroughly overwork a phrase).
- "Batman (1966)" — Give me a break on this, too. I was 12 years old, and it was everything I expected.
As you can see, a very restrictive category. I would have included "Wayne’s World," but I wasn’t going to allow more than one SNL spinoff (and as long as I’m being absurdly pedantic, I probably shouldn’t have included either of them, since a skit is not a series). "Star Trek" fans would probably have included one or more of those films, but I was never really into that ‘verse.