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Friday, June 11, 2010

Ten '80s Shows We Want to See as Movies

After The Addams Family premiered to big box-office success in 1991, the floodgates opened for classic TV shows to be adapted into movies. While 1993's Beverly Hillbillies movie performed dismally, the success of The Flintstones (1994) and The Brady Bunch (1995) kept the creatively challenged studios raiding TV Land for big-screen bounty.

Ultimately, for every Mission: Impossible, audiences also had to endure Car 54, Where Are You?, Sgt. Bilko, Leave it to Beaver, Lost in Space, and McHale's Navy.

With The A-Team opening this week, can a deluge of movies based on '80s TV shows be far behind? Should The A-Team become a success, we've compiled a list of small-screen shows from the decade of leather ties and hostile takeovers that we'd actually like to see in theaters.

10. Manimal

Manimal turned the detective show on its collective head by partnering police detective Brooke MacKenzie (Melody Anderson) with Dr. Jonathan Crane (Simon MacCorkingdale), who uses his shape-shifting ability to help solve crimes because, really, is there a day when police detectives don't require the aid of a hawk or a panther?

Sound crazy? What's crazy is that the show only lasted one season and no one has bothered to make the movie yet.

9. The Greatest American Hero

A movie version of The Greatest American Hero — the show about a teacher (William Katt) who finds a suit that gives him incredible powers and contained arguably the greatest theme song of any show in the 1980s — almost hit the big screen in 2009. Eric Christian Olsen was cast as lead, Ralph Hinkley, and explained to Moviehole what happened.

I booked that movie. I went in for it right after Fired Up. They were like, "This is our guy," but they didn't have financing in place. But yeah, I booked it, but because the budget was so huge they couldn't get the money.

It was a really funny script — about a reluctant hero who gets in way over his head — and it had a lot of really cool stunts.... Then we get a phone call just as we were starting the deal to say they hadn't got the financing. I'm not attached anymore.

Should the project be resurrected, Nathan Fillion has already claimed he would like to play the role. "I know I'm Canadian," said the actor last October, "but I think I could put my hat in for that one."

8. T.J. Hooker

T.J. Hooker was the second successful television show for William Shatner, who played the police-detective-turned-patrol-sergeant for five seasons.

Last July, news of a big-screen version surfaced, described as an action-comedy centering on Hooker and his relationship with his father. Chuck Russell (The Scorpion King) was picked to direct the movie, with screenwriting partners Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson (Tremors) set to adapt the screenplay. For almost a year, further news of a T.J. Hooker movie has gone quiet, but all that could change depending on The A-Team's success.

7. Misfits of Science

Put together a telekinetic, a rock star who can shoot lightning bolts from his hands, a scientist who can shrink for only minutes at a time, and a guy called "Ice Man" who can freeze anything he touches — except the legal objections from Marvel Comics as to who owns the rights to a character with the same name and abilities — and you get the Misfits of Science, the 1980's answer to Heroes as well as Courtney Cox Arquette's first TV show. (Fun fact: Tim Kring, creator of the now-canceled Heroes, was a writer for Misfits of Science.)

With comic book movies more popular than ever, it seems appropriate that Misfits of Science get their due, and The A-Team could be the boost that they need. In fact, besides their superhuman abilities, the Misfits are pretty similar to The A-Team. Both have four members (Misfits of Science's Ice Man" never made it past the pilot). The A-Team rides around in a van, while the Misfits of Science use an ice-cream truck. The A-Team are mercenaries-for-hire, while the Misfits work for a scientific think-tank.... OK, perhaps the comparison is a stretch, but it doesn't stop the show from being one of the forgotten gems of the '80s.

6. 21 Jump Street

The show, which launched the career of Johnny Depp, followed rookie cops going undercover to investigate crimes in high schools and colleges. In 2008, it was announced that a movie version was on its way, starring Jonah Hill, who would also write and produce. In January of this year, Hill updated Movieweb on Jump Street's progress.

We hired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller who directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and are friends of mine. They are incredible. Their take on the movie is incredible and I actually didn't write the script. Mike Bacall wrote the script. He wrote Scott Pilgrim vs. The World with Edgar Wright and Mike and I came up with the story together. I'll get a story credit and I'm executive producer as well on the film.

Hill stressed that he is "not playing Johnny Depp's character" from the show, but said that no other actors have been hired for the movie.

No, we're more working with Phil and Chris to nail the story and get the script ready for this year and then we'll concentrate on filling the rest of the pieces.

In February, Sony announced that the movie will open in August 2011, but that date will likely be pushed as Hill recently told MTV that the movie won't start shooting until "January or February" of next year. Instead, the Get Him To The Greek co-star is working on the drama Moneyball with Brad Pitt next, and then The Sitter with director David Gordon Green, which Hill described as "an R-rated, f**ked-up Adventures in Babysitting-type of movie" to Collider. With so much on his plate, it's possible that 21 Jump Street may get postponed, but the movie at least appears to be on solid-footing.

5. MacGyver

While the 1980's were filled with action shows, MacGyver was different. Special Agent Angus MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) used his scientific knowledge rather than a gun, and the approach yielded seven seasons. MacGyver-spoof MacGruber got to theaters first, but that didn't stop New Line from hiring screenwriter Jason Richman to write a script for a big-screen MacGyver last month.

No word on whether Anderson will return to the role he made famous, or whether the poor box-office results of MacGruber will impact the movie. A strong showing for The A-Team could erase the memory of MacGruber entirely.

4. Hardcastle and McCormick

Some may find this suggestion a throwaway, but think about it, the plot of Hardcastle and McCormick is just screaming to be adapted into a movie: L.A. County Judge Milton "Hardcase" Hardcastle retires and decides to go after 200 criminals who were let go on technicalities, employing help from streetwise car thief Mark "Skid" McCormick and his stolen Coyote X prototype sports car. Sounds like two solid "name" actors away from a movie to us.

Hardcastle and McCormick was also created by legendary TV producer and writer Stephen J. Cannell, responsible for The Greatest American Hero, 21 Jump Street, and a little show called The A-Team. (Fun fact: Cannell was a producer on The A-Team movie.

Don't be surprised if Cannell tries to parlay The A-Team success into some of his other '80s hits, including Hardcastle and McCormick.

3. Magnum P.I.

Magnum P.I. was one of the most iconic TV shows of the 1980s, following Tom Selleck as a Vietnam-veteran-turned-Honolulu-private-detective for eight seasons. Yet, despite being in development for years, there's still no movie. Producer Brian Grazer commented in November of 2008 that casting was the biggest hold-up.

I think the idea for Magnum P.I. is to find a counterpoint, to not try and find the new Tom Selleck but to find someone that is just so different that you go, oh my God! That guy is Magnum?!?

While Matthew McConaughey was a rumored favorite in 2007, Ashton Kutcher is the latest actor rumored to don the Hawaiian shirt and OP shorts. Showbiz Spy reports that Kutcher is the favorite for the role after George Clooney turned it down.

Magnum fans incensed at the possibility of Kutcher as their favorite P.I., fear not. Even if the rumors are true, Kutcher's self-proclaimed inability to grow a mustache could keep him from the role. Seriously. Co-starring with Selleck in Killers, Kutcher bemoaned his facial hair quandary to StarPulse.

I have been trying to grow that mustache since I could grow facial hair. I can't grow a mustache. It's pretty sad, if I attempt to. I believe that Tom produces more testosterone in his little finger than I produce in my entire body. My face doesn't do that.

Meanwhile, Selleck has never shied away from admitting he'd like to play the role again. At the Killers premiere, Selleck told OntheRedCarpet that he has no control over the situation.

I played him once, you know, and I'm prepared to play him again. They have to call and write and be nice.

Should Selleck be out of the running, we'll stick with our previous casting picks: Jon Hamm as Magnum, Craig Robinson as T.C., Danny McBride as Rick, and Rowan Atkinson as Higgins.

2. Airwolf

Airwolf was more than just an action show, it captured America's obsession with high-tech helicopters. Clint Eastwood scored a hit with his telepathically controlled jet in Firefox in 1982, but it was eclipsed by Blue Thunder, released the next year, which spawned into a TV series at the same time as Airwolf. While the Blue Thunder TV show crashed and burned after one season, Airwolf rode through the skies with pilot Jan-Michael Vincent for 55 episodes of stealthy, supersonic helicopter action.

With any luck, the high-flying helicopter sequences from The A-Team will prove to Hollywood that America's love of the high-tech helicopter isn't over, but merely resting.

1. Knight Rider

Nothing showcased the 1980's love for ridiculous technology more than the sentient Trans Am K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider, which kept David Hasselhoff in check for four seasons. The Weinstein Company acquired the movie rights to Knight Rider in 2006, with series creator Glen A. Larson on board to write the script. Hasselhoff confirmed the development in 2007, but three years later, no Knight Rider movie has been put into production.

Considering the Weinstein Company's recent financial woes, Knight Rider looks like it won't be going anywhere until either the rights are sold or the Weinstein Company decides to rush the movie into production.

It's a shame, really, if The A-Team becomes a huge hit, Knight Rider seems like the most viable option for another dip into the 1980s.

After Manimal, of course.