Father Knows Worst: Classic TV Shows Make Bad Movies…Or Do They?

The Interweb is all abuzz today with news of a Father Knows Best movie in the works at Fox/New Regency. Will the new script dissect the show's oft-criticized paternalism, or skew its overly-rosy view of American life? Nope -- it's going to have a wacky grandpa! Apparently the original plot is going by the wayside in favor of a new dad fighting with his more conservative, live-in father over parenting style, which sounds just hilarious. After all, it's easy to remake these classic TV shows as movies, right? Hmmm... Read on to relive the worst '50-'60s TV reboots ever to appear on the silver screen, and take a gander at some remake ideas we'd rather sit through...

Worst '50s-'60s TV Remakes

What happens when you make a movie out of a classic TV series but ignore the original premise? You get Bewitched, 2005's Will Ferrell-Nicole Kidman travesty. Instead of, you know, sticking to the actual plot, writer Nora Ephron (yes, writer of non-horrifying movies like When Harry Met Sally) chose to have the Kidman play a real witch named Isabel who gets tapped to play Samantha Stephens on a modern TV version of Bewitched. So the real premise of Bewitched is in this movie, it's just not the movie. With the needlessly confusing plot, Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell's Razzie-winning lack of chemistry, and the fact that it just wasn't funny, we doubt that even the original Samantha's supernatural powers could have fixed this ill-conceived mess.

The Honeymooners
There are some things you just don't remake, and The Honeymooners is one of them. It was an audacious-to-the-point-of-being-insulting idea to try and improve on one of the best-beloved sitcoms ever on television, but Paramount tried in 2005. The script updated the Kramdens and Nortons to 1999, tossed in a plot about Ralph and Ed needing to raise money to buy a Brooklyn duplex, and enlisted Cedric the Entertainer and Gabrielle Union along with other potentially funny cast members -- but the film bombed. Why? Because nobody wants to watch The Honeymooners without Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph! No conceivable remake could have lived up -- and this one didn't.

Lost in Space
Best known now as a punchline, New Line Cinema's 1998 Lost in Space reboot was a big old crapfest. The laughable dialogue, confusing and ultimately anti-climactic plot, the addition of space spiders and that horrible CGI-monkey-pet-thing did no justice to the original Robinson family and their intergalactic misadventures. Somehow William Hurt and Gary Oldman got mixed up in this thing (and Joey from Friends!), but that didn't make it any better.

Leave it to Beaver
Oh yes folks, there was a Leave it to Beaver movie... and it wasn't a sex comedy! Nope, Universal's 1997 offering followed a pretty Beaver-like plot -- minus any of the charm or humor of the original series -- with the Beav getting a bike, losing it under Wally's watch and having to hide all this from Ward and June. Snore. Updating the setting to the present without updating anything else did absolutely nothing for the script except render it bland and unfunny, and allow a computer to be thrown out a window (of course). No wonder Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers declined cameos.

McHale's Navy
Universal's 1997 McHale's Navy reboot was one of the worst flops of that year, and for good reason: we've got Tom Arnold as the now-automatically-unlikable "hero," Tim Curry as the unironically campy Russian villain, Debra Messing being boring and a bunch of other pointless crap. Plus, the plot involved Curry's character trying to take over the world -- so Tom Arnold was, for a brief time, in charge of our planet's safety? I would actually rather endure nuclear holocaust than live in a world where that were possible. And for some reason Ernest Borgnine, the original McHale, agreed to be in this, which really just makes me sad.

Remakes We'd Rather See

The Patty Duke Show
Who better than Lindsay Lohan to play these cousins, identical cousins? After all, we know how much she enjoys portraying identical twins (I'm choosing to ignore I Know Who Killed Me and so should you). And playing the demure and refined Cathy Lohan (duh, we couldn't keep calling her Duke) might open LiLo's eyes to the virtues of a coke-free and underwear-full lifestyle in a way that fake rehab never could. Plus, she'd get to practice her Scottish accent! Always a valuable skill.

My Three Sons
Picture with me a certain Kevin, Nick and Joe taking on the roles of our beloved Mike, Robbie and Chip -- excited yet? Yes, we'd take the movie through all 12 seasons of the show and yes, it would be a musical! For beleaguered father Steve, I see Joe Simpson, because he knows a hell of a lot about managing musical acts without being creepy, and for Grandpa Bub I see Ernest Borgnine, because I still feel bad about him being in McHale's Navy.

Mister Ed
If we learned anything from Daniel Radcliffe's Broadway debut in Equus last year, it's that yes, boy can love horse. And that's just what would happen in our Mister Ed reboot, in which Wilbur and Ed finally forsake their skeptical and intolerant community and ride away to live in isolation in the wild. Tragedy strikes when they encounter a jealous Francis the Talking Mule, who convinces Wilbur to poke out Mister Ed's eyes so that he won't have to see Wilbur and Francis frolicking together. Think of it as Bareback Mountain -- and pass the Oscars.

Petticoat Junction
Let's ditch the quaint charm of the old series and get right to it: this show was about a bunch of women who used to leave their petticoats on a watertower near a town called "Hooterville." Sound like a front for prostitution to you, too? Let's get Judd Apatow involved, because with "Hooterville" how could you not, and have Seth Rogen show up in H-ville on the run from the cops for marijuana possession. And we'll have Jay Baruchel go too, and make him a virgin! Throw in a Paul Rudd cameo (he can be Uncle Joe) and we've got box-office gold on our hands.

Did anyone else think there was something a bit unsettling about how every woman who entered the Cartwright men's lives ended up dead pretty much within the span of an episode? So let's make Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe inbred cannibals living in isolation in the desert, preying on unsuspecting women who cross their path -- not so much of a departure, right? But this thing needs probably needs some sort of redeeming ending... how about Ernest Borgine as the embattled police chief who ends up destroying these accursed monsters? (Because that McHale's Navy thing is still pissing me off!) Yep, sounds like a horror hit to me.

Got another movie reboot idea? Let us know in the comments!




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October 2013


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