“Hey, people loved it as a movie. What if we change the cast and put it on TV once a week? What could go wrong?”
I can only assume this is how at least half of television series that were adapted from movies of the same name came to be. It’s remarkable how often this happens and how often it fails. Of course, there are successes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a great series that came from a mediocre movie. M*A*S*H was a great series that came from a great, but very different, movie. (There are more, but I’m not going to list them. So if you’re thinking, “But what about 12 Monkeys?,” I’m already aware.)
What makes these series so bizarre is that they often ignore the events of the movie, instead just taking characters and setting and creating its own new universe. It’s all very unusual and… unnatural.
(As a note, I might do more of these because it’s a personal fascination. I mean, Gung Ho had a television series. But I might not. Who can say, really?)
Let’s start with 9 to 5, the incredibly popular 1980 film that stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman – in fact, it was the second most popular movie of 1980, only behind The Empire Strikes Back. Because it takes place in an office – as a lot of situation comedies already do – it makes a lot of sense that 9 to 5 was adapted for television. (Jane Fonda even produced the first two seasons.) Oh, and they tried. And tried. And tried.
One of the reasons I wanted to start with 9 to 5 is because it’s kind of tricky to get a grasp on what exactly happened with this show – because there are many, many cast changes. And there are, somehow, 85 episodes of 9 to 5. (Also: the theme music. That’s not Dolly Parton singing the iconic song in the opening credits of the first season! A Google search tells me this version is performed by Phoebe Snow, best known for her 1974 hit, “Poetry Man.”)