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30 TV Shows That Should Be Movies

Burn Notice

The Show: A knockabout spy caper starring Changeling ’s Jeffrey Donovan as former covert agent Michael Westen, who’s been “burned” by his employers. In other words, they’ve blown his cover, cut off all his resources and left him to fend for himself in Miami. Westen is desperate to find out who burned him and why, but to do so he’ll need some cash, so each episode sees him sorting out various criminal cases for the locals as a day job. Fortunately, old-flame Gabrielle Anwar and ex-spy Bruce Campbell (ace as always) are on hand to help out…

The Movie Version: This would play as a fairly punchy thriller if pared down to the basics of a spy attempting to recover his identity, whilst his former employers try to take him out. Okay so it’s not the most novel idea, but if Anwar and Campbell’s characters were retained along with the show’s playful sense of humour, it could be a cut above the usual espionage fare.

Cast: Jeffrey Donovan is a slightly off-beam hero in the show, so we’d like to see Casey Affleck cast ain the big-screen version. Amy Adams will play the love interest with a penchant for blowing holes in people.

Original Cast Cameo:
Bruce Campbell, obviously. If you think we’re watching this without him, you’re very much mistaken.

How Likely Is It? Brilliantly, a feature-length spin-off is set to film, taking the form of a Bruce Campbell-starring prequel directed by Jeffrey Donovan himself. Granted, it’s only a TV movie, but still…

This Life

The Show: Seminal mid-nineties relationship drama following the lives of a group of twentysomething law graduates sharing a flat and jumping into one another’s beds. For two series it was funny, sexy and shocking, although the less said about the recent ten-years-later special the better…

The Movie Version: The plan after two series was to recast all the major roles but keep the central premise intact, so we don’t see why that shouldn’t work for a movie. It should still be British-made (the humour really doesn’t bear translation), and would take the form of a kind of coming-of-age story for a set of young adults unwilling to leave the last vestiges of teenage irresponsibility behind.

Jamie Bell stars as the cocky, womanising character of Miles, with Andrew Garfield playing the more neurotic Egg. Whilst a shade older than the others, Rebecca Hall would be a good fit for the restless Milly whilst Gemma Arterton vamps it up as man-eater Anna.

Original Cast Cameo: We’ll have Jack Davenport in there too, as Arterton’s sarky boss at her legal practice.

How Likely Is It?
Not especially, given that the recent reunion show was widely panned by the critics.

Prison Break

The Show: A hugely addictive drama series in which Wentworth Miller’s architectural genius tattoos the blueprints to a prison building on his body, and deliberately gets himself locked up there so he can rescue his brother from death row. A fairly ingenious (if ludicrous) concept, and one that worked pretty well for the first series and a half, or so. After that it started to get a little exhausting…

The Movie Version: A prison movie is nothing new, but the premise behind series one of Prison Break felt like a genuine freshening up of the genre. If that series could be condensed into a feature film, and the rest of the prison-hopping conspiracy-busting nonsense left on the cutting-room floor, we could be in business.

Cast: Now that Zac Efron is graduating into grown-up films, we actually think he’d make a pretty decent replacement for Wentworth Miller as put-upon escape artist Michael, whilst we’ll have Tom Hardy as his bruising older brother Lincoln. Meanwhile, Jena Malone will play Efron’s love interest, the sympathetic prison doctor, Sarah Tancredi.

Original Cast Cameo: Robert Knepper’s terrifying redneck anti-hero T-Bag was the best thing about the original series, so we’d like to see him reprise the role here.

How Likely Is It? They already filmed a TV movie to tie up the series’ loose ends, so an official Prison Break release seems unlikely. However, Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming movie The Tomb sounds more than a little similar, with Bruce Willis set to play Ray Breslin, “the world’s foremost authority on structural security” who is framed and banged-up in an escape-proof master prison he designed himself. Hmmm, very similar indeed…

Dead Set

The Show: Charlie Brooker’s jet black zombie-comedy takes a man-sized bite out of celebrity culture by having an outbreak of the undead wreak havoc on the Big Brother house. What starts out as a hilarious satire (with Andy Nyman’s bastard producer a particular highlight) soon becomes something else entirely as the zombies close in and any possibility of escape looks increasingly futile.

The Movie Version: This would be a return to the classic zombie movies of old, where the protagonists find themselves trapped within an enclosed space, as the massed ranks of the undead slowly begin to break down their defences. A reality TV setting would add a nice contemporary twist to proceedings. The original (relatively short) series could provide a template for the film without too much needing to be cut away.

Cast: Presuming the setting would be relocated to America, we’d still need a heavy quotient of the sort of brash but beautiful arseholes who would apply to be on Big Brother , mixed in with an oddball or two. So, we’ll have Sean William Scott, Vanessa Hudgens and Elijah Wood as our lead contestants, with Mark Wahlberg as the arsehole producer making them tick.

Original Cast Cameo: Maybe Davina McCall could reprise her turn as a zombie?

How Likely Is It? Unlikely. It was relatively little-seen over here, having first cropped-up on E4, so we’d be surprised to see it make the jump to the big screen.


The Show: Channel 4’s scabrous comedy followed the antics of the Gallagher family, a brood of perennial ne’er do wells living on a gritty estate in the heart of Manchester. David Threlfall steals the show as dissolute patriarch Frank, and whilst the humour has tailed off somewhat in recent series’, the early episodes are still a riotously sleazy treat.

The Movie Version:
You could definitely make this work on the big screen, perhaps in a similarly comic vein as Withnail And I, as a semi-tragic portrayal of a man losing his battle with the bottle. Slap Shane Meadows in the director’s chair, and we could have a classic British Comedy on our hands.

Cast: Paddy Considine takes over the reins as Frank, with fellow Meadows regulars Thomas Turgoose and Perry Benson thrown into the mix as son and uncle respectively. Jaime Winstone also appears as Turgoose’s big sister, with Considine’s Submarine co-star Sally Hawkins as the clan’s foul-mouthed matriarch.

Original Cast Cameo:
Threlfall appears as a member of social services who pops in sporadically to check on Turgoose.

How Likely Is It? The series has just been ported over to America, with William H Macy in the lead role. If it’s a hit over there, then maybe a film might be a possibility.


The Show: Kevin Smith came up with this supernatural slacker comedy in which ordinary teen Sam Oliver discovers that he is the property of the Devil, who insists on using him as a “reaper”, a kind of bounty hunter for lost souls. Funny, sharp but crucially lacking in ratings, the show was cancelled after it’s second season. Ripe for a reboot then…

The Movie Version: We’d like to see Kevin Smith himself in charge of bringing this one to life, as it would work well as a fantasy comedy if granted a bigger budget to blow on effects. With a sharp script and some eye-popping visuals, this could be a real hit.

Jesse Eisenberg would be a good pick for the reluctant hero, with Jonah Hill playing mouthy best mate Sock, and Anna Kendrick replacing Missy Peregrym as the feisty love interest.

Original Cast Cameo: We’d like to retain the wonderful Ray Wise as the Devil, as he’s got charisma to spare, but also looks as though he could turn nasty if pushed.

How Likely Is It? Smith has discussed reviving Reaper as either a comic-book or a cartoon so this one isn’t beyond the realms of possibility…

Freaks & Geeks

The Show: This ace high-school comedy launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, not to mention that of executive-producer Judd Apatow, and followed the exploits of Linda Cardellini’s teen on her journey from star pupil to disaffected slacker.

The Movie Version: We’d like to see this one played as an indie high-school movie, somewhere in the ballpark of film’s like Ghost World or Easy A . The same characters needn’t be involved necessarily but the offbeat comic mood must remain the same.

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Jennifer Lawrence and Amanda Crew are the new kids on the block.

Original Cast Cameo: Franco, Segel and Rogan all return, as a parent, teacher and school janitor respectively.

How Likely Is It?
There’s been no word on any plans to make a movie as yet, although Apatow has re-teamed with series creator Paul Feig on an upcoming wedding comedy Bridesmaids , starring Kristen Wiig. Maybe they’ll repeat the trick for Freaks & Geeks…


The Show: "This is 29 Acacia Road. And this is Eric, the schoolboy who leads an exciting double life. For when Eric eats a banana, an amazing transformation occurs!, ever alert for the call to action!" What else do you want to know?

The Movie Version:
In all seriousness, we reckon this could work as a comic-book movie spoof, with the ridiculous nature of Eric’s alter-ego providing the platform from which to poke fun at the angst-ridden, puffed-up nature of superheroes generally. Although we’d probably cast him as an adult. Child superheroes are kind of naff.

Cast: Bill Hader makes us laugh in pretty much everything he appears in, so we’d like to give him a go as our unwitting, fruit-munching hero. On top of that, we’d like Timothy Dalton to appear as the Hitler-aping Doctor Blight. Come on, this would be amazing!

Original Cast Cameo: Graeme Garden, your Hollywood ship has come in!

How Likely Is It? On paper, probably the least likely entry on the list. But then again, Hollywood can’t resist a super-hero, no matter how ridiculous…

Studio 60 On The Sundet Strip

The Show: In an unfortunate piece of scheduling, Aaron Sorkin’s follow-up to the West Wing came out at around the same time as the similarly-themed 30 Rock . Whilst that show was a breezy, easily-accessible comedy, Sorkin’s show was more of a drama, playing things relatively straight in it’s portrayal of life behind the scenes on a Saturday night sketch show. Sadly, only one could survive, and Studio 60 was canned after just one season.

The Movie Version:
In our opinion, the comedic and dramatic elements never really sat very well together on the show (not least because the show-within-a-show appeared to be painfully unfunny), so we’d ditch the half-baked laughs and play this as a straight drama about the graft that goes into the comedy industry. Sorkin’s snappy dialogue is usually witty enough, without contriving “comedy” situations to use it in.

Cast: Matthew Perry played the head writer in the TV series, but we’ll recast that role to Luke Wilson, who runs a fine line in exasperated everymen.

Original Cast Cameo: Bradley Whitford’s recovering drug addict and executive producer was one of the show’s more interesting characters. We’d like to see him brought back to life here if possible.

How Likely Is It? Not very. The show tailed-off fairly dramatically towards the end of its run, so even the Oscar-winning Sorkin would have a hard time persuading anyone to greenlight this.


The Show: Hugh Laurie stars as the grumpy old medic with the sharpest mind in the business. Having won a shower of awards, and maintained toweringly high ratings throughout its seven series to date, it’s no wonder that Hugh Laurie has become the highest paid actor in a US drama series. Who would have predicted that during his Blackadder days?

The Movie Version: Each episode plays like a self-contained movie in many ways, so the translation to the big screen should be a moderately painless one. Establish House as a troubled genius, face him with a patient who needs to be saved to avert a national crisis, give said patient a remarkably obscure and fiddly condition and bingo…you’ve got a movie.

Cast: Laurie’s superlative performance has left some massive boots to fill, but we reckon Russell Crowe could do a fairly good job of a gruff, talented professional prone to sudden bouts of anger. Can’t think why…

Original Cast Cameo: Laurie gets the nod as the hospital’s chief of medicine, a man who likes to run a tight ship, and has become increasingly aware of House’s burgeoning drug addiction.

How Likely Is It? We can’t really imagine anyone swallowing a House spin-off without Hugh Laurie in the title role, but hey! Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Who thought Rampage Jackson could ever replace Mr. T? Hmm, bad example.