Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pop Quiz: Tuning In the Movies

For every successful TV series based on a movie (such as considerable hits like M*A*S*H, Alice - at right, based on Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), The Odd Couple - shown below, and In the Heat of the Night), there are a half-dozen or so flopperoonies.

Today, we're offering up a quiz to see if you can name the moderately successful to ill-fated TV series described below, all based on a hit, in some cases a smash, movie!  You many find yourself staring in disbelief at a couple of the answers if your memory isn't very long.  Let's turn the dial and get started!

1.  Deborah Raffin and Barry Bostwick starred in this 1981 "comedy-adventure" series based on a hit 1978 feature film which paired a an Oscar-winning blonde with a smirking TV performer-turned-movie actor enduring a series of misadventures over an assassination plot.  The TV incarnation sank after only 6 episodes.

2. This 1957 show actually ran for two seasons, though not too many people recall it.  It was based on a highly-popular and memorable 1953 comedy romance.  The show centered on Merry Anders, Lori Nelson and a young Barbara Eden.  (Lisa Gaye later costarred when Nelson left the series feeling it was beneath her.)

3. This 1973 show focused on two couples, one of which was Robert Urich & Anne Archer while the other was David Spielberg & Anita Gillette.  It included a young Jodie Foster as the latter couple's daughter.  Attempting to cash in on the success of a hit 1969 movie, it paled mightily by comparison and was gone after a dozen episodes.

4. This 1977 sci-fi series sought to utilize some of the costumes left over from its 1976 big-screen namesake.  Like many film-to-TV adaptations, the leads bore no relation looks-wise to their counterparts and the storyline had to be tweaked in order to make continued stories possible.

5. Based upon a huge 1980 comedy hit, this 1982 show actually ran for 85 episodes until 1988, though there was a break in between 1983 and 1986.  The show was plagued by behind-the-scenes squabbles as well as conceptual and casting changes making it hard for audiences to continue tuning in to the series.

6. This 1986 show ran 22 episodes and was based on a 1984 sleeper hit that had gleaned an Oscar nomination for its leading man and title character.  Aiplane!'s Robert Hays was not exactly on the same plane as the originator of the part (who ultimately did win an Oscar for another movie.)

7. A popular 1950 western involving the tenuous relations between an Indian agent and a Chiricahua Apache chief led to a series in 1956 that ran for two seasons and 73 episodes.  Imposing Michael Ansara was the star, taking over for the movie actor who was Oscar-nominated for his interpretation and popular enough to play the role more than once.

8. A gargantuan 1962 movie, filled with stars, was later adapted into a miniseries in 1977, followed by a series that aired in 1978 and 1979.  Having first been handled as a pilot in 1976, it kept going through various permutations and key casting shifts, which made it confusing at times for viewers, though the chief star, a western TV icon, was with it throughout.

9. A 1978 Walter Matthau comedy-romance led to the creation of a 1979 series that was rather successful.  In fact, its ratings improved the second season until the leading lady was abruptly fired in a controversial dispute.  A recast led to dismal viewership and resulted in cancellation in 1982 after 57 episodes.

10. Although it inspiration came from a series of wildly popular sci-fi movies from 1968 on, the 1974 TV show version couldn't gain a foothold and was toast after just 14 episodes.  The concept had been fiddled with somewhat from the movie version and even the presence of one of the movies' key stars couldn't save it.

11. A massive sci-fi hit in 1973 and it's moderately successful sequel in 1976 led to this 1980 show that starred Jim McMullan and relative newcomer Connie Sellecca (who'd already experienced the failed sitcom Flying High in 1978-1979.)  It was cancelled after only 3 episodes had aired, though its makeup and art direction were Emmy nominated.

12. A hit film of Al Pacino's from 1973 (one which landed him an Oscar nomination) gave birth to an action drama in 1976 that only ran for 14 episodes before being cancelled.  TV star David Birney was scarcely an actor of the same level of fame or acclaim as Pacino (or even type!), which may be why it didn't take with the public.

13. Barely lasting a season was this 1990-1991 sitcom based on a popular John Candy film that came out in 1989.  Not only did the show not have Candy, but it starred a stand-up comic who little known today outside fans of that arena.  TV Veteran Audrey Meadows was brought in a few times as an antagonist, but the series was met without enthusiasm from critics or viewers.

14. One of the cinema's most acclaimed romances ever, one that frequently appears in Top 10 lists, was reworked into a series in 1983, but without the benefit of a regular leading lady!  Instead, the leading male character (played by a former popular TV cop) was present along with some supporting parts from the movie.  The tremendously bad idea sank like a stone after 5 episodes.

15.  One of 1988's most successful comedies, both critically and commercially, was brought to the small screen in a forgettable sitcom format in 1990.  The initial leading lady (The Facts of Life's Nancy McKeon) wound up exiting the program before it was shot, giving another fledgling actress a shot.  That actress would go on to cop an Oscar, but not for close to two decades later.

          Answers coming up!

1. Foul Play was based on Foul Play, which starred Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase.
2. How to Marry a Millionaire was based on How to Marry a Millionaire, with Barbara Eden doing a version of Marilyn Monroe's dumb blonde character, Loco.
3. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was based on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which starred Robert Culp, Nataklie Wood, Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon.
4. Logan's Run starred Gregory Harrison and Heather Menzies and was based on Logan's Run, which starred Michael York an Jenny Agutter (with Menzies borrowing York and Agutter's costar Farrah Fawcett's hairstyle for the series.)
5. 9 to 5 was based on 9 to 5, which starred Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman.  Initially, the series starred Rita Moreno, Valerie Curtain, Rachel Dennison (Parton's real-life younger sister), Valerie Curtain and Jeffrey Tambor, but Tambor was swiftly replaced with Peter Bonerz.  Then in the second version of the show, Sally Struthers was on board and Moreno was out.
6. Starman was based on Starman, which featured Jeff Bridges.  Seen as a guest in the montage below is a Joker-esque Janet Leigh as well as fellow regular Erin Gray.  Jane Wyatt also guested on the series.
7. Broken Arrow was based on Broken Arrow.  Jeff Chandler had played Cochise in that movie and in its sequel Taza, Son of Cochise (1954.)  Note the way the inset photo seems to make costar John Lupton resemble angular Charlton Heston, who costarred in the movie.
8. How the West Was Won was inspired by How the West Was Won and starred Gunsmoke's James Arness.  Leading lady Eva Marie Saint didn't continue with the series and was replaced by Fionnula Flanagan as her sister and the sons' names were changed along the way.
9. House Calls starred Wayne Rogers and Lynn Redgrave.  It was based on Matthau's film House Calls with Glenda Jackson.  Redgrave was fired after having a baby and wishing to bring it to her dressing room for scheduled breast-feeding.  This caused an industry-wide examination of such circumstances.  Sharon Gless played her replacement (a different character.)
10. Planet of the Apes was derived from Planet of the Apes and its string of sequels.  Roddy McDowall was on board as a friendly ape, though not the primary one, Cornelius, he'd played on the big screen.
11. Beyond Westworld sprang from Westworld and Futureworld, both of which had the benefit of Yul Brynner's menacing cowboy robot in them.
12. Serpico was based on Serpico.
13. Uncle Buck, starring Kevin Meaney, was based on Uncle Buck.  Buck was the first TV series to have a character, a child no less, say "You suck!" on the air.  It occurred in the pilot.
14. Casablanca, starring David Soul and Hector Elizondo, was a prequel of sorts to Casablanca, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains (not to mention Ingrid Bergman!)
15. Working Girl, starring Sandra Bullock, was based on the movie Working Girl that saw Melanie Griffith (and her costars Sigourney Weaver and Joan Cusack) Oscar-nominated. That's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Nana Visitor at the desk.
I hope you had fun with this little trip down TV lane.  I'll be back ASAP with more Hollywood-oriented fun!


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