Popular novels don’t always translate well on the big screen. While some adaptations turn into new and interesting beasts, others crumble and leave devout audiences with a bad taste in their mouth. While book to film adaptations appear to be receiving a lot of criticism as of late – take the Divergent franchise for example – small screen adaptations are thriving.
Game of Thrones, The Night Manager, Outlander and next month’s Westworld for example, tell a familiar narrative over consecutive episodes, often allowing their characters to build and transform through multiple seasons, over the span of years. We spend almost an hour a week with a television character, we grow to love them and their story, which is given room to breathe and grow in a way that a film never has the ability to achieve.
Recently, the Divergent franchise have announced their plans to move the hit dystopian series written by Veronica Roth from the big screen to the small, for the final story in the series, Ascendant. It is no secret that the Divergent films left some fans feeling confused and irritated, having skipped out on important characters, and changed prudent plot points. You would be forgiven for thinking the most recent film in the Divergent franchise Allegiant was a bad Star Trek remake. The elaborate production design and over-enthusiastic special effects turned the earth-bound story into something that appeared as if it was set in space. But ultimately it was the poor box office of this year’s Allegiant that seems to have led producers to make the change.
Maybe this was something they should have done with the series to begin with? Divergent may have been born out of the cinematic success of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, but now with shows like Game of Thrones setting such a successful precedent, there are plenty of books like Divergent that we think also deserve the small screen treatment.
Here are five series that I believe could reach their full potential if they were made into television series.
The Losers is action-packed comic book series that was published by Vertigo, an imprint of the American comic book publisher DC. Vertigo was created to publish adult content that wouldn’t meet the stringent guidelines of the Comics Code Authority, so the comic book was given the creative freedom to say a big “Screw You” to the United States Government who were, through their corruption and immoral practices, the series’ main villain.
The Losers were an elite U.S. Special Forces unit during World War II named after their terrible luck. The team were betrayed by their handler, a CIA mastermind named Max, who was presumed dead. After spending years in hiding the team worked together to take down the man that betrayed them. The Comic was turned into a film by the same name in 2010, but with thirty-two issues worth of suspenseful narrative up for grabs, this adaptation may be better suited for TV. Despite the fact that Marvel is currently taking up most of their undivided attention, Netflix would be the prime spot for this comic-book adaptation.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a perfect fit for television. Fans had big expectations leading up to the 2010 film adaptation of the first book in the beloved five-part series written by Rick Riordan, but were disappointed by the lacklustre attempt by Director Chris Columbus, and they weren’t the only ones. Rick Riordan himself penned an open letter to teachers begging them not to waste student class time on the Percy Jackson movies. “my heart breaks every time I hear that classroom time is being thrown away watching those vapid Percy Jackson adaptations,” Said Riodan.
The film made dramatic changes to the original narrative, removing pivotal characters and changing the overall plot. This may be a fault of having simply too much to convey in the short span of a film, which is why this series is a perfect candidate to be remade for the small screen. Ares’ cabin, The Mist and The Oracle are just a few elements that were scratched from the film that wouldn’t be lost in an in-depth television adaptation.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was turned into a series of three films directed by Peter Jackson, which contained a lot of unnecessary CGI, dire pacing, and overblown action scenes. The film felt more like a video game than a cinematic production. While I don’t think The Hobbit should be turned into a full-length television series, a mini-series adaption could give the narrative another chance of life, and perhaps bring Bilbo the character depth he deserves. This is another good contender for HBO.
The Ender’s Saga was a series of five sci-fi books written by Orson Scott Card. The series was turned into a film in 2013, and despite amazing performances by a star-studded cast including, Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Harrison Ford, and Hailee Steinfeld, the film didn’t quite hit Lionsgate’s box office goal. The Ender’s Game’s original narrative saw a six-year character development.
From a genius child of six Ender Wiggin was destined for battle, at just 12-years old he was enlisted to defeat the Earth’s alien nemesis ‘The Buggers’ and save the world. The amount of character depth and development in the novel had no chance in a film that was just shy of two hours in length. The heartbreaking tale of war and friendship would be better suited over a series of episodes where characters are given a better chance to shine as they are introduced on the small screen.
On Twitter J.K. Rowling dispelled the possibility of the Harry Potter franchise being turned into a television series. “Right after the opera, Potter-on-ice and the interpretative dance version of Beedle the Bard #NotActuallyHappening,” Rowling said. I’m sure many fans would agree, Harry Potter ended with the completion of The Deathly Hallows Part Two. Like many 90’s children, I am an avid fan of the Harry Potter franchise, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love each and every one of those films (cringe and all).
I can’t help but wonder, however, whether the magic could evolve into something, perhaps even better, if it was given the chance on the small screen. A small screen production could bring interesting character side stories to life. Perhaps we would finally see the humanity in Filch’s character, a Squib (a non-magical person born to a magical parents) who was destined to work in a school surrounded by children with powers he would never acquire. We could get a more detailed look at S.P.E.W. (the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) started by Hermione Granger in order to break down prejudices against Hogwarts house Elves, and perhaps we would finally be able to meet Neville’s parents at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and see first hand the irreversible damage that Bellatrix caused.
Much like Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones, I can envision the magic of the Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade coming to life on the small screen. The Harry Potter television series would need a high-production value of course, and would need to be produced by a well-established network, perhaps Netflix or HBO would do the trick.