What's New NetflixNews10 Best TV Shows Based on Movies: A Must-Watch Lineup in 2023

10 Best TV Shows Based on Movies: A Must-Watch Lineup in 2023

10 Best TV Shows Based on Movies: A Must-Watch Lineup in 2023

Adapting intellectual property can be quite a daring adventure. Whether it’s a book coming to life on the big screen, taking center stage in a captivating play, or captivating audiences through the television, there’s always a gamble involved. Will the heart and soul of the original story shine through in this new form of entertainment? Sometimes, these adaptations can actually enhance and improve upon the original material, fixing any flaws along the way. But, unfortunately, there are also times when these adaptations fall short, leaving fans disappointed or scratching their heads wondering why it was even attempted. This is especially true when movies make the leap to the small screen, often failing to meet the high expectations set by their cinematic counterparts.

Nevertheless, every now and then, something truly magical happens. Lightning strikes twice, and a phenomenal film effortlessly transforms into an equally astounding television show. These rare gems not only capture the essence of the original but also manage to stand tall as exceptional television series in their own right. So, let’s embark on an exciting journey and explore some of these extraordinary achievements.

1. M*A*S*H

Richard Hooker’s novel M*A*S*H was first turned into a dark comedy film in 1970. It followed the story of three army surgeons – Hawkeye, Duke, and Trapper John – at a mobile army hospital during the Korean War. The film, directed by Robert Altman, cleverly used the Korean War as a backdrop to comment on the ongoing Vietnam War. It was even honored with the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

However, it was the television adaptation that truly made M*A*S*H a household name. The show aired from 1972 to 1983 and struck a perfect balance between the seriousness of war and a comedic tone. It also expanded the cast, creating an ensemble that grew and evolved over the seasons. The iconic theme song, “Suicide is Painless,” from the film was also used in the TV series.

M*A*S*H’s impact on both TV and film cannot be overstated. Its series finale holds the record for the most-watched scripted TV episode in terms of live viewership, a testament to its enduring popularity.

2. Hannibal (‘The Silence of the Lambs’)

Hannibal ('The Silence of the Lambs')
There have been several films based on Thomas Harris’s novels featuring the infamous serial killer and cannibal, Hannibal Lecter. Out of all these movies, The Silence of the Lambs stands out as the most well-known, having won five Academy Awards, including the prestigious Best Picture. Anthony Hopkins delivered a captivating performance as Hannibal, impressing viewers with his charming yet terrifying demeanor. Jodie Foster also received widespread praise for her portrayal of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, who relies on Hannibal’s assistance.

In contrast, the TV adaptation of Hannibal, produced by NBC, focused on Hannibal working alongside Will Graham, an agent who appeared in two other Hannibal films, Manhunter (1986) and the prequel Red Dragon (2002). The show depicted Will and Hannibal as colleagues working together to track down other serial killers, all the while Hannibal himself managed to elude Will’s suspicions. Mads Mikkelsen brought a unique perspective to the character of Hannibal Lecter, while still maintaining the eerie and hyper-intelligent charm established by Anthony Hopkins. Throughout its three-season run, the show received positive reviews and set itself apart from the films by exploring the compelling dynamic between Will and Hannibal, who were the only two individuals capable of understanding each other.

3. What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows
The vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, written by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, became an instant hit for its clever fusion of fantasy and everyday life. The story follows vampire roommates Viago, Vladislav the Poker, and Deacon as they navigate the challenges of sharing a flat in Wellington, New Zealand. From splitting rent to accidentally sipping each other’s victims’ blood, their experiences are hilariously relatable.

Building on the film’s popularity, Waititi and Clement decided to bring the concept to television. The TV adaptation, set in Staten Island, maintains the core idea of a documentary-style glimpse into the daily lives of vampires. While the creators themselves don’t appear in the series often, they do make the occasional cameo. Instead, the show introduces new characters like Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja, Colin Robinson, and their human assistant Guillermo. This ensemble cast sets the stage for countless misadventures that keep viewers entertained.

The FX adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows has garnered much acclaim, receiving a whopping 17 Emmy Award nominations within its first four seasons. This success speaks volumes about the show’s ability to translate the film’s winning formula into an ongoing series.

4. Fargo

Fargo, a highly acclaimed film by the Coen Brothers, has earned praise from critics for its exceptional writing and directing. Set in the snowy winter of Minnesota, the movie revolves around a police chief, played by Frances McDormand, as she investigates a series of killings connected to a complex fake-kidnapping scheme. Notable actors like William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi also deliver outstanding performances. McDormand’s portrayal earned her an Academy Award for best actress, while the Coens were honored with the best original screenplay award.

In 2014, Fargo made its way to television with an adaptation on FX that proved to be a remarkable success. Noah Hawley took charge of the writing, while the Coens served as executive producers, ensuring a seamless transition. The TV series adopts an anthology format, where each season tells a distinct crime story in a new location with fresh characters. While maintaining the film’s intricate relationships and memorable characters, the show introduces entirely new narratives. Every season boasts an impressive cast and explores a different time period, yet the settings, often featuring snowy landscapes, pay homage to the original film’s aesthetic. The series has thrived on its own merits and was renewed for a fifth season in 2022, unaffected by the film’s legacy.

5. A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events became a popular young-adult book series around the year 2000, and it didn’t take long for a film adaptation to follow suit. Released in 2004, the film covered only the plot of the first three books, even before the entire 13-book series was completed. Jim Carrey took on the role of Count Olaf, while an impressive lineup of guest stars such as Meryl Streep, Catherine O’Hara, and Jennifer Coolidge portrayed the well-meaning adults who tried, but ultimately failed, to help the Baudelaire orphans escape Count Olaf’s clutches.

In contrast, the Netflix series came out between 2017 and 2019, long after the books had been finished. This allowed for a more detailed adaptation of the entire series, with two episodes dedicated to each book. Neil Patrick Harris skillfully stepped into the shoes of Count Olaf, bringing a sinister yet comedic presence to the character. He even showcased his vocal abilities by singing the series’ catchy theme song. Patrick Warburton, as the narrator Lemony Snicket, faithfully delivered the author’s distinct voice by incorporating narration directly from the books. Moreover, the increased number of episodes provided the opportunity to include more guest stars, such as Joan Cusack, Will Arnett, and once again, Catherine O’Hara (in a different role).

While the film laid the foundation, the Netflix series had the advantage of building upon what had already been done well. As a result, it was able to satisfy both existing fans of the series and new viewers alike.

6. Westworld

Highly successful author Michael Crichton ventured into the world of Hollywood when he took on the roles of writer and director in the creation of Westworld. This chilling sci-fi film explores an immersive theme park filled with androids. The story revolves around the guests who find themselves in Westworld when the androids malfunction and start causing harm to unsuspecting visitors.

In the movie, Yul Brynner delivers a bone-chilling performance as the Gunslinger, a Westworld android programmed to engage in simulated duels with guests. However, things take a dark turn as the Gunslinger goes rogue and begins killing humans indiscriminately. Ultimately, he meets his demise along with the other malfunctioning robots. Crichton’s first attempt at directing was well-received, and the film left a lasting impression, leading to a sequel and an HBO adaptation four decades later.

The HBO television adaptation of Westworld became a major success, delving even deeper into the humanity of the androids, referred to as “hosts.” The show explores the hosts’ ability to form memories and gain sentience, thanks to the programming of their creators. Evan Rachel Wood portrays Dolores, a prominent host who emerges as a protagonist and leads the other hosts in a rebellion against their human programmers and guests.

While the characters in the TV series differ from those in the film, the “Man in Black,” played by Ed Harris, bears a striking resemblance to the Gunslinger. As the show progressed, the plot became more intricate, resulting in a decline in viewership during later seasons. Nonetheless, Westworld garnered significant acclaim, earning a total of nine Emmy awards throughout its four-season run. Such success is an accomplishment that many adaptations strive to achieve.

7. Bates Motel (‘Psycho’)

Bates Motel ('Psycho')
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho achieved unparalleled success, thanks to Anthony Perkins’s exceptional horror performance, the anxiety-inducing violin motif, and the unforgettable shower scene. These elements have solidified the film’s position as one of the most influential in cinematic history. The intriguing character of Norman Bates has spawned numerous spinoffs and adaptations, but one that particularly resonated with audiences was the A&E TV series.

Bates Motel was envisioned as a “contemporary prequel” that delved into the intricate relationship between Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. Although it takes place long before Norman started impersonating his mother to commit heinous acts at the motel, the series managed to maintain the suspenseful atmosphere of the original film while chronicling Norman’s descent into the infamous villain depicted in Psycho. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga delivered outstanding performances as the twisted mother-son duo, earning critical acclaim and multiple award nominations. Spanning five seasons, Bates Motel secured its place as A&E’s longest-running scripted drama to date.

8. Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights
The film Friday Night Lights, released in 2004, was inspired by a true story set in a Texas town during a tumultuous high school football season. The story closely followed the narrative of the book, which also took place in 1988. Billy Bob Thornton delivered a thrilling performance as the coach, solidifying the film as an inspiring addition to the sports genre.

After a few years, director and co-writer Peter Berg created a TV adaptation of Friday Night Lights. While it maintained the core concept and many plot elements from the true story, the adaptation was brought up to the present time (2006). The characters’ names and the town’s name were changed, but the team remained the Panthers. Berg saw this as an opportunity to delve deeper into the interpersonal dynamics that influenced the football season, something he couldn’t fully explore in the film due to time constraints.

The TV adaptation of Friday Night Lights garnered a massive following and received praise for its nuanced exploration of emotional conflicts for both teenagers and adults. The well-developed ensemble cast set in the town of Dillon was particularly applauded, with Kyle Chandler’s portrayal of Coach Taylor standing out.

9. 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys
Remember 12 Monkeys? It’s a sci-fi thriller from 1995 that had a really cool concept. It starred Bruce Willis as a convict sent back in time to stop a deadly virus from spreading. But things didn’t go as planned – he ended up in the wrong year and got sent to a mental hospital. He kept traveling through time, trying to find the source of the virus, and eventually ended up dying in front of a younger version of himself. It was a mind-bending time loop that left a lasting impact on audiences. In fact, the movie was a huge success, even claiming the top spot at the box office for two weeks.

Fast forward twenty years, and Syfy decided to adapt 12 Monkeys into a TV series. They took the original concept and expanded on it, giving us even more to sink our teeth into. Aaron Stanford stepped into Bruce Willis’s shoes as James Cole, teaming up with Amanda Schull as Dr. Cassandra Reilly. Together, they used time travel to try and prevent the viral outbreak. But here’s where the series really took things up a notch – they delved deeper into the mysterious “Army of the 12 Monkeys,” transforming them into a formidable group of bad guys. And instead of sticking to the closed loop of the movie, the show explored the idea of time travel altering history.

Surprisingly, the series held its own against the beloved film. It garnered positive reviews as it progressed, building up a dedicated fanbase. And it kept getting better until its fourth and final season.

10. Parenthood

Ron Howard’s 1989 film Parenthood perfectly captured the rollercoaster ride of raising children. It followed the lives of four adult siblings, each dealing with their unique child care situations. Steve Martin took the lead as Gil, a father raising three kids with another one on the way. Meanwhile, his siblings faced their own challenges, such as teenagers getting married or spouses pushing their toddlers to become prodigies. This heartwarming film resonated with audiences and received two Academy Award nominations.

Soon after the film’s release, a TV adaptation was attempted in 1990. Unfortunately, this version was canceled after just one season. However, the concept was revisited in 2010 and transformed into the highly acclaimed Parenthood TV show. This adaptation featured an incredibly talented cast, including Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, and Dax Shepard. It retained the core premise of adult siblings navigating the influence of their parents while juggling the demands of their children, each with their unique issues. The show also delved into the evolving dynamics of modern families in the 2010s. Its outstanding portrayal of family life earned it several awards, including a Critics Choice award. The timeless nature of these family stories allowed both the film and TV show to connect with different generations and find success.

Emma Isabella
Emma Isabella
Emma is a regular contributor to WhatsNewNetflix. She likes delving into the world of Netflix TV shows as well as studying films, especially comedies.


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