The Movie Dilemma

Now, if you’re anything like me, then you’ve seen your fair share of TV shows, which by some means are also an in-theaters movie. What you may not have seen though, is what this can do to a show, how it can affect the ratings, the hilarity, and the overall quality of the given programming. Certain television shows have taken different approaches, trying to conquer both media, AND (now here’s the difficult part) seamlessly transferring from one to the other, giving each standalone a certain quality. Some have started with movies, some have ended with movies, and some have, most daringly, stuck the movie fat in the middle. Let’s take a look at how some of these tactics have worked out.

Beginning with a movie:

Now, here, it is debatable as to whether these movies plan on becoming TV shows, but what is not up for debate is the fact that all over the place does this phenomenon happen.

Looking at one of the most notorious cases of this of our generation, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had this system down. I do not use that phraseology lightly. (Also I am slightly surprised that Google Chrome accepted my usage of the word phraseology. Surprise win?) Anyways, the movie was pure gold. If you disagree, you might have to pop over to a television screen near you and pop in the ol’ VHS for a little refresher. I mean this movie had everything a kid could want. We’re talking about a 10 year old boy makes contact with intelligent life with a contraption he built out of a toaster? You can’t write that. Point is: After raking in a gentleman’s $102,992,536 at the box office, the homeboys over at Nickelodeon films, or whoever is in charge of such lofty business decisions, said “Hey, let’s turn this into a show and see what happens.”

The show was a gold-mine. Running for a 5-year, 3-season period, Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, was arguable in the top 25 shows in recent Nickelodeon history. Evidently, the show only lasted 3 seasons, which to the naked eye is unimpressive, but consider the facts. Jimmy was overshadowed by the likes of Spongebob, Fairly Odd Parents, Rocket Power, etc. Is it Jimmy’s fault he couldn’t compete? I would say no. Even if he was the weak link of this line-up, his efforts were greatly appreciated. I mean, they had a dad who was obsessed with pie and ducks, I repeat, you can’t write that. If you think I’m joking, slip some episodes of Jimmy Neutron in between iCarly and whatever the hell else they’re passing off as “TV” on Nick these days and you will see record numbers.

Overall: Movie to Show transition was a great call and they are a great example of it.

Other shows who have done this tactic, however, haven’t fared as well. Disney may be the king of unsuccessfully trying to pull of this stunt. With shows such as: Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Lilo and Stitch the Series, and The Emperor’s New School, to name a few, yeah, they pretty much have this market tapped. But is it worth it? Are they making smart business decisions here? Well now, I’d say no. We’re talking about some of the most legendary animated movies to ever pass the silver screen. Toy Story and Emperor’s New Groove are two movies that will go down in the history books, ladies and gentlemen. Lilo and Stitch was also pretty dece. But after the shows come out,…most people try to picture these as separate entities. Most people try to block out the fact that they’re even the same characters. It is an abomination and should never have happened.

In conclusion: Unless you are Disney, give it a try. Seriously. Even Penguins of Madagascar is a pretty good show. It’s a little late in the game for some of us (see: most college students), but I’ve heard good things about it. Even Buffy started out as a movie. (Again, maybe a little early for some of our readers (see: Me)) But still a valid point to the argument.

Mid-Series Movie:

Now I’m pretty sure we all know which movie I am going to bring up in this article and in this section in particular, being that it was the impetus for my writing this, but let’s not quite jump the gun. Let’s see if we can find a time when this worked…OH! Got It. Seriously, and if you disagree, you can turn around right now (and by that of course I mean X out of the given window)

Rugrats.

That’s all I gotta say. If you wanna talk about a TV show that every kid loved, you’ve got it right there. No kid missed out on the opportunity to appreciate this show. Are you a clever fun-loving leader? You got Tommy. Are you an anxious, often scared individual? You got Chuckie. Are you a sassy little princess? Angelica. Do you celebrate Easter, Passover, Christmas, Hanukkah,  Kwanzaa, (insert holiday here)? Well,  the Rugrats have an episode about it, probably starring Tommy Pickles as some historical leader while Grandpa Lou narrates. That show was baaaadassss. Seriously. How old were those kids, like 1? If I had as much fun and as many good times in my whole life as those kids had in their first year, I’d be a lucky man. I really would be.

So after 7 years of television domination, in 1998, some jabroni in some cubicle over at Klasky-Csupo swivels around in his swirly chair, and says to the guy behind him “We should make this a movie.” And they did just that. Some may have called this a risky move, but you can’t call it anything except extraordinary when they bring in just shy of $150 million. Two years later, they do it again, but bring us to Paris which makes just over $100 million. The show goes on until 2004, and after a 13 year run it was about time to end probably. A slightly impressive television streak right there (considering that few of its viewers were probably even as old as the show while watching it)

Look, I don’t need to say anymore for you to realize how fantastic of a move this was. But we all know that this can be a terrible move. Well, whos to say really? Maybe I am biased, because for this one, I don’t care about the numbers. I care about programming quality. And I really care about this one if you haven’t figured it out yet.

So in 1999 a show airs on Nickelodeon. Yes, I was there and watched the very first episode as it aired for the very first time. Note: I have only done this (to my knowledge) with two shows in my life- this one, and America’s Best Dance Crew. Well, much like ABDC, I turned out to like this show very much. I would even go so far as to saying I loved it. After 5 years, it decided, too, to go to the big screen, and raked in almost identical numbers to that of the Rugrats movie. It went back to television, and continues to air to this date. Yes, 12 years later, agian, almost identical to the situation of the Rugrats. So what’s the difference? What’s the difference, you ask.

The difference is that somewhere along the way, Spongebob Squarepants fell off and hit ROCK BOTTOM. I don’t care about money, reviews, ratings or any of that. It really should take no brains at all to understand how terrible the new episodes of Spongebob are. They are literally painful. I’ll be honest, I’m the type of guy that can turn on a tv and sit through the worst shows of all time. I’ve been doing it for years. I can sit through Wizards of Waverly Place, I can sit through Gilmore Girls, hell, I can even sit through an episode of Suite Life on Deck if tv just happens to be that slow. But I can NOT sit through a new episode of Spongebob. It’s torture. His new voice sucks, the new plot line sucks, and that thing when his nose drops down just piss me off.

Conclusion: If it is that point in your show, and you think you have a strong enough fan base to carry you through this, do it. Your show might come back, and after the fact you might lose some fans, you’re probably gonna make a good amount of money. I mean, let’s face it, in order to make your movie work, you gotta have some serious character development, maybe even add in some new ones. You can’t just ease back into the show and ignore all of this progress, its just unheard of, so just be prepared for it.

Ending with a Movie:

Bold choice. One that says to some “Hey we’re just about done here, but we’re really desperate to end on a strong note.” Let’s first look at some shows that have done this in the past, then real quick compare it to more contemporary shows that seem to be planning on this.

For those of you who saw Recess: School’s Out, it is no surprise that I will support this move. Recess was a fantastic show that, honestly, was not given the proper recognition by yours truly until late in the game. I always saw it as just that show on One Saturday Morning, or the show that would be on after school if I got home early enough. But you know what, it was always enjoyable. The series ended and then they came out with a movie that all could truly enjoy. Great move.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie was equally fantastic. Clearly Hilary Duff was on the brink of becoming the next big thing, and had bigger plans than Brenda Song who, for some reason, is perfectly content sucking on the Disney channel (sidebar: could totally see her being a Disney Channel lifer. As in she’s gonna one day be that mom on the tv show that you can’t stand. But more on TV moms in a future article…) Anyways, she needed to take her talents to the big screen, and honestly, I’d support this move as well. It may be my love for the soundtrack, it may be my desire to get the same hair as Ethan Craft, and it may be the fact that I found Hilary Duff slightly more attractive as the brunette she played in the movie, but the point is, the movie was awesome. The TV show, while a little bit girly for my taste, was also pretty classic. It had a solid TV dad (which can be hard to come by), a solidly cast younger brother prankster, and of course Gordo. I dunno, it just kind of worked. I’m not sure really what all the red balls in the intro had to do with the story line, but you know, we were all okay with it. And we were all okay with the series ending on the note it did.

With these two shows in mind, we have to look at two pretty large television shows that are claiming visits to the Box office in the near future.

First up is Entourage. This series is beloved by many guys all around the nation. What’s not to love? Movie star plotline, loveable fat friend, hot girls everywhere. It’s built for men. But you see, as time goes by certain things happen: plotline becomes monotonous, fat guy becomes skinny, hot girls….still very much present. What up Sloan? But the point is, is that the series dropped off big time and I think it’s safe to say that everyone realized it. Meanwhile, many people kept up with the show, but it honestly was one of those “Please let this episode finally be good” type of followings, rather than a “oh I really can’t wait to see what happens next” type deals. So at  some point the writers realized this, probably, and said, well, screw it, we’ll make a movie. This to me, is a statement that the Entourage team is trying to send Entourage out as exciting as Vinny Chase’s career, were it real. They want it to be epic. They want Entourage to be ENTOURAGE. But they’re forcing it. If I’m being honest, and I am, my prediction is simply that Entourage will hit theaters, everyone will go, myself included, and everyone will come back slightly underwhelmed.

Second is Arrested Development. I fall into the “didn’t watch the show until it was cancelled” category. But the fact that this category exists speaks to the potential of the movie. Clearly the writers still had something left in them. The show didn’t end because the characters became dry, because plot got boring, or because of anything organic. It ended because no one knew about it. Several years, and many DVD releases later, they blowing up big time. I call this choice to bring back a movie an amazing one. Now, the logistics of that are obviously a bit difficult, changing a TV show into a movie does take quite a bit of effort, but they can pull it off. There story lines were so intricate I am confident they can pull it off.

 

If you are still reading this, my message is such: Film and Television are two different media, and you need to respect them as that. You can’t just go ahead and interchange the two as if its no big deal (I’m looking at you, Disney Channel) but if you are going to do it, and are only looking for money, rather than for making a quality program, at least do it to kids. Let the kids suffer the loss of seeing their favorite characters become less funny and less lovable. This might sound cruel, but they won’t realize its happening. They’ll be glad to see more and more of their favorite characters, but unfortunately when they’re older they’ll look back and be luck oh…that actually kind of sucked now that I’m a little removed from the situation.

-Little Spoon

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