5 awesome and 5 awful movie-inspired sci-fi TV shows

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

What's the best way to milk a movie without making countless sequels? Why, you turn it into a TV show, of course! It's a tricky method that can either help or hurt the original, but it's a risk a lot of studios are willing to take to build a franchise.

We've found five awesome and five completely awful movie-inspired TV shows that made us hate and love the properties all over again.

Drumroll, please ...


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a box-office bomb that was panned by critics. When you're that low on the totem pole, there's nowhere else to go but up. Creator Joss Whedon went to The WB and got a new cast, added a vampire love interest (Angel), got rid of Buffy's valley-girl persona, and turned her into a real heroine.

Stargate SG-1 (1997)

Stargate kick-started not one but several TV shows (Stargate Atlantis, SGU Stargate Universe) and even a few made-for-TV movies. Our favorite of the bunch was Stargate SG-1, which was led by MacGyver, aka Richard Dean Anderson (later on, Beau Bridges got in on the action). The series lasted for 10 seasons, and we have to admit, it was more awesome than the original movie!

The Dead Zone (2002)

Who knew Anthony Michael Hall could take over a role previously played to perfection by Christopher Walken? Nobody does creepy like Walken, but Hall's acting in The Dead Zone was a pleasant surprise. The show was an adaptation of the 1983 film that was based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. We stayed glued to the screen for six spooky seasons before Hall and his deadly visions were finally laid to rest.

Highlander: The Series (1992)

There can be only one. Really? We liked Highlander the movie, but we loved the TV series. Move over, Connor MacLeod, we'll take your TV counterpart Duncan any day. Highlander stood out because Duncan (Adrian Paul) wasn't a spitting image of Connor (Christopher Lambert). He was a different character, and he had his own thing going. He wasn't a cheap knockoff. And if he wasn't a big enough draw, the show had the best opening theme ever!

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

We might catch some flack for this one, but Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wasn't that bad! The show only lasted two seasons and got canceled when it was really getting into its groove. John Connor was turning less emo, and it looked as if his and Cameron's relationship was going somewhere. We know it's creepy because she's a machine, but there was real chemistry there. You all saw it!


Timecop (1997)

The only good thing about the film Timecop was Jean-Claude Van Damme—and that's not saying much. But the geniuses over at ABC thought it would be a great idea to adapt it for TV. They hired a new lead (Ted King) and sent him on zany adventures across the space-time continuum. The end result: one of the most boring and random sci-fi shows we've ever seen! Timecop just wasn't the same with Van Damme and his signature split kick.

RoboCop: The Series (1994)

There was a time in history when Robocop was everywhere. He had his own cereal and coloring book and a live-action TV series that aired in both the U.S. and Canada. It somehow lasted 22 episodes, even though it shouldn't have made it past the pilot. It took everything we loved about the original film and watered it down. There was cartoonish violence, bad acting, and did we mention bad acting?

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998)

Mark Dacascos has made some questionable career choices (see Double Dragon), and this was one of them. The Crow: Stairway to Heaven never worked for us because it didn't stick with the original tone of the film. It seemed too ... happy. The cheap special effects and bad action sequences didn't help either. The poor show never stood a chance.

Logan's Run (1977)

This is a classic example of when bad TV happens to good movies. Logan's Run was an amazing sci-fi film, but the TV show was over-the-top and cheesy. We get that it was the '70s and they had to market it to a wider audience, but did they really have to make it so disco-esque? Was it Logan's Run or was it Charlie's Angels? You tell us! It's no wonder it only lasted one season.

Planet of the Apes (1974)

How many different ways can you show us a world dominated by apes? By the time this show hit the air there had already been five Planet of the Apes movies. Not two or three, but five that harped on the same premise! This show, along with the animated series that was released the following year, really beat a dead horse. (Or should we say ape?) They beat it, skinned it and burned it alive before they finally let it go. (Oh wait a minute, we forgot Rise of the Planet of the Apes is heading to a theater near you! Sigh.)

So which made-for-TV adaptation did you love or loathe?

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