Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw... they're doing it again. They're trying to turn a hit 80's movie into a TV show. Or rather, trying to exploit the "brand" name of a hit movie by watering it down. Just a few days ago we wrote about the St. Elmo's Fire "remake" and how we thought it was a pretty dumb idea. But now they've gone too far!
Heathers was one of my most favorite 80's films ever. I love it so much, in fact, that we purposely didn't include it in our recent 80's remake fantasy casting because I could never imagine anyone filling the shoes of Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, et al. There have been rumors of a Heathers sequel forever - mainly because Winona Ryder brings it up every few years - but director Michael Lehmann swears that it's never gonna happen. So imagine the shock and dismay (and I'll admit, curiosity) when we read that 1988 theatrical failure turned cult-hit Heathers would also be taken to the small screen. What's your damage, Fox!?
The other day, we had the misfortune of accidentally watching another great-movie-turned-terrible-TV-show, 10 Things I Hate About You. What a piece of garbage that show is. I'm sure that Heath Ledger is turning over in his grave every time it airs. (Well, what else do we expect from the network that brought us The Secret Life of the American Teenager?) The story has been completely watered-down and the characters are mere caricatures of the originals.
We think it's safe to assume that this will be the same fate for any Heathers-reimagining. It's got to be somewhat of a tough-sell (even for Fox) to bring the dark humor tale of teenage murder-disguised-as-suicide storyline to network TV. Might be pretty risky trying to preserve the true essence of the movie and the plot is sure to be a logistical nightmare. Can they really drag the murders out farther than a few episodes, let alone a few seasons, without totally altering the heart of the story?
If they eliminate the murders altogether and just turn it into another "high school can be a mega-bitch" series, then what's left to differentiate it from Gossip Girl, the new 90210, or pretty much anything else on the CW? Why even bother calling it Heathers in that case? Just call it Mean Girls: The Series.
But who knows... maybe it will work. Taking a famous movie and turning it into a TV show can be a big risk, but sometimes the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. One huge risk that did pay off was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Based on a cheesy B-movie about an airhead cheerleader turned "chosen one", that series may have been one of the biggest risks in TV history. (The original film starred Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry for chrissakes!). It ended up being a risk worth taking. Buffy, which aired for seven years, earned creator Joss Whedon Emmy nominations, a spin-off (Angel) and a cult following. And this was before the vampire genre blew up with the likes of True Blood and Twilight, etc.
There was a very different fate for the short-lived and long-forgotten Ferris Bueller series, based on the movie starring Matthew Broderick. The film was a huge hit and is still popular today, but the show tanked. The TV show Clueless - which actually featured many of the original cast members from the movie version, minus star Alicia Silverstone - was also canceled early on.
So maybe Heathers will be successful as a TV show... maybe it will be true to the original film... but it's pretty unlikely that it will be both.