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Why Does Hollywood Keep Churning Out Bad Film Versions of Great TV Shows?

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From left: A scene from the 2005 remake of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' starring Johnny Knoxville, Jessica Simpson, Seann William Scott, (Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection)
From left: A scene from the 2005 remake of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ starring Johnny Knoxville, Jessica Simpson, Seann William Scott, (Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

Joe Queenan of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote a column entitled “Please Stop Tarnishing Old Television Treasures.” The upshot was that Hollywood seemed to be really good at making classic, much-beloved television shows like CHiPs—which is getting a reboot on the big screen in March—into laughable, flop-worthy failures.

It got us thinking: How many great TV shows had been ruined on the silver screen over the years? Here’s our list.

 

CHiPs (2017)

Confession: We haven’t seen this yet, and we’re probably never going to see it (even after it goes straight to Redbox). I mean, have you seen the trailer? (See below.) It looks godawful, full of the same old tired clichés that have made cop comedies so abhorrent throughout the years (with the exception of Police Academy and Beverly Hills Cop, which is slightly more action than comedy). And though we really liked Dax Shepard in TV series Parenthood, as well as Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, this film version of the classic TV show has “DOA” written all over it.

 

 

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Johnny Depp’s bordering-on-racist portrayal of Tonto in this remake of the ’40s/’50s TV show that probably kept your dad glued to the TV set of his youth was the first major problem. The second? That the movie got made in the first place.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
Johnny Depp as Tonto in ‘The Lone Ranger’ (Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

I will never forget how excited I was to see this movie; I’d grown up on the campy ’80s cartoon series and loyally collected the figures, vehicles, and comic books. I dragged a good friend to the theater to see it on its opening weekend, and about halfway through the film, I turned to him and apologized for bringing him. It was a ginormous waste of time. Laughably bad. And like Scooby-Doo (see below), its producers had the gall to make a forgettable sequel.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Rachel Nichols as Scarlett and Marlon Wayans as Ripcord in 2009’s ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’ (Frank Masi/Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

Bewitched (2005)

With just a 25 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this remake of the classic TV show should’ve been a lot better, given that it co-starred comic genius Will Ferrell and Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman. (Not to mention Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine.) Instead, it fell flat with audiences. Because you can’t “remake” Dick York or Elizabeth Montgomery.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Nicole Kidman, Shirley MacLaine, and Will Ferrell star in the remake of ‘Bewitched’ in 2005 (Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Any movie that stars a guy from Jackass, Stifler from American Pie, and forgotten pop princess Jessica Simpson is a festering sore on the entertainment industry. It made a mockery of the original.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Jessica Simpson, Johnny Knoxville, and Seann William Scott starred in the 2005 remake of ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ (Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

Scooby-Doo (2002)

Zoinks! This movie was bad. So bad that they made a sequel two years later that was even worse. Clearly, if it wasn’t for all those meddling kids that went and saw it in the theater, none of this would’ve happened in the first place.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze, Jr., in 2002’s ‘Scooby-Doo’ (Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

A movie starring the likes of Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz was a major win for feminism and showed that a trio of the top actresses of the time could carry a blockbuster. But if you were one of the poor souls who had to sit through this one in the theater, we truly feel sorry for you. Just look at Diaz’s face in the photo above. Even she hated it.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore, starred in 2000’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’ (Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

The Mod Squad (1999)

Garnering just a four percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this remake of the classic late-’60s TV show never really had a heartbeat. It did star a late-’90s Claire Danes, who’s since made it up to the TV gods by starring in Homeland. But still, shame on her for thinking this was a good career move.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Giovanni Ribisi, Claire Danes, and Omar Epps starred in the 1999 remake of ‘The Mod Squad’ (MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

Inspector Gadget (1999)

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” That quote was from Matthew Broderick’s greatest comedic feat: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We can’t remember a single quote from this cartoonishly bad remake, Broderick’s comedic nadir.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
Matthew Broderick starring as Inspector Gadget (Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

 

The Flintstones (1994)

Look, we think John Goodman is the best. And so was ’80s/’90s movie staple Rick Moranis (he of Ghostbusters; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Spaceballs; and Strange Brew, among others gems). But of all shows to tarnish the reputation of, why this beloved ’60s cartoon? Its producers should’ve left it under the bedrock.

The Worst Movie Adaptations of Classic TV Shows
From left: Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell, Elizabeth Perkins, and John Goodman, starring in 1994’s ‘Flintstones’ (Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

—Will Levith for RealClearLife