With the Academy Awards arriving in three weeks, it's time to think not only about the winners but about which nominated films will be made into television series.
A theatrical movie doesn't have to be an Oscar nominee to gain extended life in prime time, of course. Big box office is a sufficient pedigree, witness the coming series clone of "A League of Their Own." Through the years, in fact, scores of movies have wound up as weekly series, most of them forgettable, the CBS classic "MASH" and current CBS drama "In the Heat of the Night" being obvious exceptions.
"Dirty Dancing," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Serpico," "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "Uncle Buck" and "Working Girl" are just a few of the series clunkers spun from movies. With these in mind, it's fair to speculate what may lie ahead on TV for each of the five films presently nominated for best picture.
The Movie: A friendship between seriously ill Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave) and single Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson), who lives in London with her younger sister and brother, ultimately results in Margaret's unlikely marriage to Ruth's stodgy widower, Henry (Anthony Hopkins), as well as a conflict over Ruth's desire that Margaret inherit Howards End, her charming rustic house outside the city.
The Series (a comedy titled "Howards Horror"): Widower Henry Wilcox marries younger woman Margaret Schlegel. Then the inevitable high jinks begin when Henry and Margaret move into a farmhouse with his two grown sons and her adult sister and brother. Conflicts abound. Food fights, fistfights, the works. Although the two families appear hopelessly mismatched and out of sync, they somehow find a way to get along.
That is, until the Wilcoxes learn that the Schlegels are . . . vampires!
Margaret Schlegel: Barbara Eden Henry Wilcox: Andy Griffith.
"Scent of a Woman"
The Movie: A heartwarming story about a relationship between earnest prep student Charlie Sims (Chris O'Donnell) and blind, bitter, retired Army officer Frank Slade (Al Pacino) that begins acrimoniously but blossoms during an adventurous weekend in Manhattan.
The Series (a comedy titled "Blindman's Bluff"): Cranky but warmhearted retiree Frank Slade pretends to be unsighted so that he can use blindness as an excuse when he purposely bumps into attractive young ladies and pinches them on their rears. But Frank gets more than he bargains for when he tries pinching Tango instructor Charlotte Sims, who spots his ruse and threatens to expose him unless he becomes her partner in a dance studio. A dance instructor with a white cane? Let the hilarity begin.
Charlotte Sims: Rhea Perlman Frank Slade: Robert Conrad.
"The Crying Game"
The Movie: After an act of terrorism goes awry, an I.R.A. gunman named Fergus (Stephen Rea) changes his ways and initiates a complex, romantic relationship in England with Dil (Jaye Davidson), enigmatic lover of one of his victims. Their bond produces a stunning revelation. Meanwhile, a female I.R.A. colleague of Fergus named Jude (Miranda Richardson) attempts to coerce him back into the ranks with tragic results.
The Series (a comedy titled "Such a Drag"): An absent-minded Mafia hitman named Forgetful accepts $25,000 for a hit he forgets to make, and his bosses are so mad that they put out a contract on him. While on the lam, Forgetful meets, falls for and moves in with Dil, a voluptuous saloon singer who is concealing something that would shock love-struck Forgetful. The fun starts when Dil each week thinks of new side-splitting ways to keep Forgetful from discovering her secret.
Forgetful: Richard Moll. Dil: Jamie Farr.
"A Few Good Men"
The movie: Brilliant young Navy lawyers J. G. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Lt. Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) team up to defend two Marines accused of murder, putting the young jurists in conflict with snarling Marine Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson), the officer who is indirectly responsible for the crime.
The Series (retitled "A Few Good Mensches"): Rabbis by day, frogmen by night, an elite squad of Navy chaplain/investigators led by J. G. Daniel Kaffee and Lt. Commander JoAnne Galloway uses unconventional means in tackling specialized cases involving the military, constantly exasperating their tyrannical but warmhearted rabbi boss, Col. Nathan R. Jessup.
Jessup to Kaffee: "What's the evidence?"
Kaffee to Jessup: "Don't ask." J. G. Daniel Kaffee: Luke Perry. Joanne Galloway: Shannen Doherty. Col. Nathan R. Jessup: Tony Danza.
The Movie: Seeking one last payday in the Old West, aging former gunfighter William Munny (Clint Eastwood) and his friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) take up arms in behalf of a group of prostitutes offering a bounty on two cowhands who messed up one of their colleagues. Munny and Logan inevitably clash with Little Bill (Gene Hackman), the violent, dangerously eccentric sheriff of the town where the action occurs.
The Series (a drama retitled "Dr. Coif, Therapist Woman"): The setting is a Western town where, haunted by demons from his past, aging former gunfighter William Munny seeks psychotherapy from pioneering psychologist Edwina Coif. Each episode opens with Munny prone on Dr. Coif's couch, recalling a different chapter of his wild former life, flashing back to a time when he and his comedic sidekick, Ned Logan, regularly had it out with the maniacal Little Bill.
Each episode ends with Dr. Coif joining Munny on the couch.
William Munny: Robert Culp. Ned Logan: Bill Cosby. Little Bill: Richard Chamberlain. Dr. Coif: Jaclyn Smith.