in Television

Adaptations: Good Born From Bad


Don’t judge the apple based on the tree it fell from

A few weeks ago, I found out that The Vampire Diaries was getting a spin-off called The Originals.

Now, I am in no way a fan of the parent show (I watched the first episode, laughed, and haven’t gone back since), and I was expecting so little from the spin-off. So, when more information about the show got released that actually started to pique my interest, I was taken aback.

According to an article I read, The Originals is going to take place in New Orleans (which already gives it an instant plus in my book) and will deal with the city-wide dynamics built up by the vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan).

Not only will the show explore both Klaus’ shady past and a mysterious witch conspiracy, but it’ll also include Klaus’ brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies). Redemption and sibling relationships are two of my favorite types of stories.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen a single episode of TVD with these two characters, so for all I know, the relationship has already been set up terribly with horrible actors. God knows I’m not going to trust the opinions of the die-hard Tumblr fandom, but I’m still cautiously optimistic based on the premise alone.

Plus, there’s the fact that family and past indiscretions drive this show, rather than lame-o love triangles.

This spin-off got me thinking, though. What other legitimately good shows came from “dark” places? (Yes, TVD is a dark place in my book.)

I’m not just talking spin-offs of stupid mother shows here; there are all kinds of good shows that could have just as easily gone bad, whether it’s due to being adaptations of terrible source material, a victim of too much adaptation, or network stigma.

Let’s have a look:

The Carrie Diaries

Do I really even need to explain why this show should have been terrible? I do? Okay, fine then.

I personally find Sex and the City to be horrific, but technically it is an award-winning show. However, it has been driven into the ground with the movie updates. Instead of finally putting a bullet between the aging franchise’s cataract-riddled eyes, The CW decided to adapt a series of young adult novels based on the teen version of Carrie Bradshaw.

The book is technically a prequel to the Sex and the City book, but the elder HBO series is obviously being used to draw in fans. Since the original author is still responsible for creating the characters I find so annoying in live-action form, I was wary of this update.

Turns out, if you combine AnnaSophia Robb’s winning starring role, a fairytale version of the ‘80s, a little teen angst, and basically ignore the entirety of the Sex and the City franchise, you can create something pretty nice.

The only sad thing here is that the awesome young woman from Connecticut who interns at a New York fashion magazine weekly is one day going to turn into Sarah Jessica Parker’s version of Carrie.

Teen Wolf

An adaption of an ‘80s movie, about a basketball playing lychanthropic high schooler. Oh, joy.

MTV, the network that made all of it possible, surprised everyone, though. Going for slightly darker themes, while keeping the usual high school drama that comes with all teen shows to a minimum, this show actually found some success.

By deleting basketball and replacing it with lacrosse, adding some great supporting characters, and creating a main character that is on a steady ascent to hero territory, MTV has shown it is actually capable of doing something right in a time when the network is mercilessly mocked for longer featuring music.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I like to think of Buffy as the 1997 version of today’s Teen Wolf. The source material was just plain bad. Cheesy in the way that would have TV watchers scratching their heads, saying, “Why did they decide to adapt that?”

The follow up question would then be, “How do you make it good?” The answer: Give the power back to the guy who originally wrote the thing. Joss Whedon, the movie’s screenwriter, successfully brought his little vision to the small screen, taking back the power from studio executives that hacked up his original idea so that it would play better to audiences.

The end product replaced cheese with wit, horror, and drama – all in a neat little “monsters as real-life metaphors” package.

Battlestar Galactica

This was a show born in the years right after the original Star Wars trilogy. I imagine space opera shows popping up all over the place an people rolling their eyes, similar to what’s happening nowadays with Twilight and vampires.

The original Battlestar lasted one season and was promptly cancelled, and was even taken to court over copyright infringement in the regards to Star Wars. I guess no one got sued in the end, since the TV franchise was revived in 2003 with a miniseries that lead to full-fledged four season run.

So, how’d they make something famous for being unoriginal good? Make it dark and gritty, of course! Add in some great characters and some allusions to the war on terror, and you’ve got yourself a successfully updated sci-fi show.