Movies are great. I love movies, but in some cases, television just does it better. Certain stories, characters, and properties lend themselves well to the long format approach that television offers. It allows for more in depth stories, character exploration, and large casts of characters that movies can be thin at presenting. The opportunities that television offers has benefited properties like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher). Some of those have tried the movie route with mixed success while others like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones could not have become the smashing successes they are as merely a two hour movie. There are several properties that Hollywood have tried and failed to make into movies, but I believe could have been successful as television series. Then there are those that have yet to be attempted in any form, but again I feel that TV is the way to go. Here are my top 5:
5. G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO
For people of older generations, G.I. Joe might conjure up images of a large soldier doll that was kind of marketed as a boys’ Barbie. That all changed in the early 1980s when G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero hit toy shelves with a variety of smaller action figures featuring a diverse line of characters complete with distinct stories and backgrounds that made every character unique. This spawned an equally successful Saturday morning cartoon and one of the best-selling Marvel comics of the 1980s. Hollywood has tried twice with varying results to bring these characters to life on the big screen. First was the 2009’s mediocre G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra followed by a slightly better G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013. Neither seemed to capture audiences’ imaginations like those cartoons and comics of the ’80s. Reportedly, a third attempt is now on the horizon.
I say to forget it. Make a live action G.I. Joe television series. Set it during the 1980s Cold War and give us the characters as they worked best. A television series would allow the opportunity to explore the very large and diverse cast of characters that comprise the G.I. Joe franchise. Like with The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, characters could weave in and out of the story. Some characters can die while new ones replace them. G.I. Joe is large enough to accomplish this. It would also allow more in depth character studies of both the Joes and their Cobra enemies in a way that the movies likely never could.
4. THE WHEEL OF TIME
Taking inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune and debuting several years before George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones or J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel hit bookshelves, there was author Robert Jordan’s #1 best-selling epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Comprised of 14 novels (several of them at over a thousand pages) and beloved by legions of fans, there is simply no way that a movie or even a series of movies could do justice to these intricate novels with dozens of major and minor characters. A television series is the only way I can imagine the grand tale of the Dragon Reborn being brought to life.
3. NEIL GAIMAN’S SANDMAN
Written by Neil Gaiman, Sandman was the groundbreaking comic book series published by DC Comics’s adults only Vertigo line from 1989 to 1993. Sandman has the distinction of being the only comic book to ever win the World Fantasy Award, an honor generally reserved for only “serious” fantasy and science-fiction literature. Sandman is one of those comic books that comic readers tend to recommend to people who have never read comic books or tend to look down on them as “low brow” or “kid stuff.” Gaiman’s tale of Morpheus, the personification of sleep and dreams, remains one of the most seminal comic book series of all time. Rumors of a Sandman movie has been floating for years, but I believe that there are simply too many nuances and quiet introspective moments that explore the human condition for a two hour action packed comic movie blockbuster to really explore. Sandman is not that kind of comic book. It would make more sense as a television series comparable to something like HBO’s Westworld.
2. MARVEL COMICS’S HORROR CHARACTERS
We all know Marvel Studios as the unstoppable entertainment juggernaut that has brought us fun blockbuster movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as darker gritty Netflix series like Daredevil and The Punisher. So, where do Marvel’s horror themed characters fall into the mix? With the exception of the car driving Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider having an extended guest starring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this remains a largely unexplored corner of the Marvel Universe. I think these characters fall firmly into the camp of the dark and gritty. As such, original television series on Netflix is where these characters would best fit. Follow the Netflix formula used with the street heroes who make up The Defenders teamup series. Give Blade the vampire hunter, the motorcycle riding Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, the schizophrenic vigilante Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, etc. their own individual series and then team them up in a Nightstalkers series named after the Marvel horror team comic of the same name.
1. STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER
Stephen King’s seven volume magnum opus is the prolific horror writer’s longest work as well as the glue that connects nearly everything else he has written. It is a masterful work that blends multiple genres, most notably the high fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western. Yes, The Dark Tower did receive the Hollywood treatment in 2017 in a less than two hour film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey that bombed at the box office. While many of the elements and surface details were there, the film was simply a weak, watered down, and highly compressed attempt at adapting one of King’s most beloved works. Television is the ideal medium to properly translate this vast work that King continued to revisit over the course of more than 30 years of his writing career. When the man in black flees across the desert, and the gunslinger follows, Dark Tower fans want to see the journey from beginning to end and back again in all its wondrous detail rather than the highly abridged version that the movie gave them.