Hollywood may have shown lack of judgment when it comes to adapting television shows into movies - Land of The Lost, anyone? - but that doesn't mean we're content to stay quiet and not warn them off certain shows nonetheless.
This week, we've been celebrating the best of science fiction television, but there's a dark underside to the genre that we don't like to talk about... Shows that, quite simply, don't deserve to live again for many reasons - most of which are related to their stunning lack of quality. Come with us as we relive some of television's darkest moments, why don't you?
Benji, Zax and The Alien Prince
The year: 1983. The concept: Joe Camp, creator of the pooch-centric Benji franchise decides to jump on board the Star Wars gravy train by adding a deposed alien prince stranded on Earth and hiding from equally-alien bounty hunters to the mix. The result: A series that only lasted thirteen episodes, but seemed to go on forever when you were an SF-starved child looking for something to follow Return Of The Jedi and forced to accept this nonsense. On the plus side, the failure of this show meant that we were spared The Littlest Hobo In The 30th Century.
Meredith Woerner believes that this show, about an inventor who creates a robot that looks like a small girl before pretending that it's his daughter, is good. The BBC called it "one of the worst low-budget sitcoms of all time." I think we can all agree which side is right here, don't you? For those who have been so won over by Meredith's True Blood recaps that you're willing to give the show a critical re-appraisal, you'll get your chance; Shout! Factory are planning on releasing DVDs of the series starting next year.
It may have had Lost In Space's Jonathan Harris and its own catchphrase (Personally, I hope ORACO - "Order Received And Carried Out" - comes back into every day usage any day now), but what Filmation's first live-action series lacked was quality to back up its "Professor Xavier's School In Space" concept. Due to its origins as a kids' show in the 1970s, there was a lot of moralizing and "lessons" to be taught, but it was only in spin-off Jason Of Star Command that things got worth watching.
Team Knight Rider
When one Knight Rider isn't enough, it's time for five poor knock-offs in this one-season-only spin-off from the original Knight Rider; following in the footsteps of Michael Knight, the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG, get it?) recruit former secret agents, soldiers, geeks and thieves to continue in the specific war against crime that only people in talking cars can carry out (Making your core selling point less unique always works, right?). More commercial for sponsors Ford than a real program, the little-remembered series is now just a footnote in the career of My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos (who voiced "Domino," one of the cars), showing just how unimportant in the grand scheme of things it really is.
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
Originally aired on four different networks during its troubled six year run (although it took a year off in the middle), you only have to look at the opening of the video above to see why audiences never really grabbed onto the chance to study in Space Academy (Yes, apparently there's something doomed about that name) with good student Tom; apparently, even 1950s audiences had trouble accepting something that looked less impressive that the Flash Gordon movie serials... Or maybe they just didn't really see the point in going through even more schooling, even if it was in space. More to the point, could anyone these days make anything other than a Will Ferrell comedy with a concept that includes the words "Space Cadet" in the title?
The bizarre result of the question "What if Tron fought crime in the real world?", Automan suffered through twelve episodes on ABC in 1983-84, this show at least offered up Desi Arnaz, Jr., as a vaguely credible nerdy computer programmer who created an artificial intelligence alter-ego with which to fight crime (See also: Street Hawk, although that probably belongs more in the Airwolf and Knight Rider school of 1980s shows I kind of enjoyed but even then knew they weren't that good). Bonus points are given for using "Otto J. Mann" as a secret identity, but then removed because, well, this show wasn't very good.
Cashing in on the then-current virtual reality craze and casting both the sister of V's Marc Singer and Sapphire And Steel's David McCallum may have seemed like a winner in 1995, but Fox's reality-challenging series (canceled after ten episodes) was either ahead of its time or an ill-advised attempt to piggyback on the success of The Lawnmower Man three years after its release. Don't even get me started on the idea that there are ten "levels" of virtual reality, at least three of which aren't actually virtual at all.
You'd think that, after Cool World, people would've known better than to give cartoonist Ralph Bakshi money to come up with a "sexy" anything, but in 1997, HBO did just that, asking him to come up with a sexy sci-fi cartoon series. This six-part series - with plots involving virtual strippers sucking the brains from their customers and prostitutes escaping into virtual reality to find happiness as geishas - was the result. When HBO agreed to do a second series but only if they could replace all the writers, you can tell that things weren't going to well, and the series died a quiet death. Maybe they should've stuck with their original title, "Spicy Detective."
Hard Time On Planet Earth
To be fair, there's maybe something in the core idea of this short-lived 1989 series about aliens being imprisoned in human form on planet Earth, but I'm not sure that you could tell from watching the show itself, especially as the show settled into the formula of former alien warrior Jesse learning to be a better person by helping out his now-fellow humans each week. On the plus side, producer/writer Michael Piller went from this to saving the Star Trek franchise, so let's say that he obviously learned what didn't work from this flawed feel-good wasted opportunity.
Just to finish things out, here's a show that should never be made into a movie not because it was bad - although, let's be honest, watching the reruns is always just a little bit more painful than you remember, right? - but because the entire point of it was the never-ending journey, which you can't really do in a movie format. And, to be honest, I'd be worried that any new take on the concept would end up more like Tru Calling or The Butterfly Effect than the gentle, calming soul food television that this series ended up being (I blame Scott Bakula's infectious charm). But what say you people?