The relationship between movies and television shows is often questionable. Sometimes the idea works, and other times, the idea should have just died a bitter, yet merciful death. Turning TV shows into movies is usually pretty easy, especially when you have the original cast and crew. All a movie is is an episode that is longer and has a legitimate budget. That's the easy part, especially since movies are (usually) one-shot deals.
On the other hand, a movie into a TV series? It usually means those big writers that got paid the beaucoup bucks will be called away to write another movie. Those A-list celebrities? Sorry, but Robin Williams might have other movies to film and would rather leave it in the hands of Homer Simpson (that and, you know, the whole Katzenberg ordeal). Bottom line, capturing lightning in a bottle for one movie is tough. But trying to maintain that spark for a series? Yeah, you'd better prepare for some intelligent, character-driven dialogue that will keep audiences invested. It's not like anyone's dumb enough to make a movie about characters from auto insurance commercials based on a single punchline!
With animation, it's a whole different ball game. Where in live action, a LOT of people would notice if Michael J. Fox were to be replaced by James Arnold Taylor, it's tougher when it's only his voice. The animation quality is already expected to downgrade. The only thing left? The writing! Since so many Disney movies provide so many well-rounded characters, it's fitting to see where further adventures might take them if given the right writer. So let's play pretend: I'll be the overzealous, underpaid writer on his third mortgage and you be the fiscally conservative studio executive, I got ten tries to convince you that any one of these pitches has merit. Got it? Know your lines? No? Too bad, improvise! Ready and go!
10. "Pete's Dragon" and "Mary Poppins", now "Mary and Elliott"
Now Mr./Ms./Mrs. [Insert last name here], I'm sure this seems like a dumb concept from the get-go, but hear me out:
Mary Poppins heals broken families. Elliott, the charismatic dragon also helps heal families, but usually just the kids who are in more serious trouble. In today's world, family troubles are harder to fix than ever, Leaving Mary Poppins and Elliott to decide what to do to help each child on each case. The two have just as much in common as they have opposite, it's like Law and Order: Child Protective Services Unit! With a Time Lord nanny and a dragon!
In all seriousness, this could be more of a Disney Junior-type show, where Mary and Elliott could help children grow and understand the dynamic with their parents. Sometimes parents may seem mean or unfair, but it can help kids by discussing what family means. Mary Poppins will be the one to explain to kids why cleaning up their room, doing chores, or eating vegetables are important, and present them in a way for kids to better understand the relationship between work and reward. Elliott can help too, but may most likely wind up being the comic relief. This may not be the most riveting, but if given good writers, they may even tastefully approach the subject of abuse. God knows Winnie the Pooh tried and look how well "Too Smart for Strangers" turned out!
Er, on second thought, don't. I'd like you to sleep tonight.
9. "Alice in Wonderland"; now "Down the Rabbit Hole"
Back in the late eighties, when girls rocked denim jackets, leg warmers, and MC Hammer was inexplicably a thing, we had "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". Here, the Tweedle Twins were MC Hammer-ripoff rappers, the White Rabbit wore roller skates, and the Queen of Hearts was less a shouting tyrant and more a sassy black woman. It was harmless eighties cheese that tried to teach simple lessons through over the-top-costumes, wacky musical numbers, and devoid of any sort of true depth
Since "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" is a look inside the mind of a young girl, it's only appropriate to keep that as a narrative. I loved the idea of Alice being grown up and re-meeting all her friends, as we saw in the Tim Burton film, but there could be something more profound. Suppose Alice is a young English girl, going through high school, college, and eventually, young adult life. To cope, Alice talks to her imaginary friend - the Cheshire Cat, who often questions her sanity and her grasp on reality, which often seem to blur. Like her overbearing mother who always seems to play cards, or her gay neighbors who always seem to be having tea, or the enigmatic guy who hangs out at the hookah bar, or the twin classmates that keep hitting on her, or the timid therapist she sees who has an issue with punctuality. You get the idea. These people are exactly who they are, but the more they coincidentally blur in with her memories with Wonderland, the more her perception of reality becomes clear. It's a mind bender, I know. But it'll still be better than "Adventures in Wonderland"
And speaking of vintage eighties TV shows from Disney...
8. "Dumbo"; now "Dumbo's Flying Circus"
While "Adventures in Wonderland" had a decent idea but a weak and dated execution, "Dumbo's Circus was...ugh. Creepy animatronics, dumbed-down messages, and most importantly, DUMBO DOESN'T SPEAK!
Due to the bright and colorful circus background, it's ability to change locations (It is a traveling circus, after all), and a slew of animals, Dumbo can have a whole variety of adventures. In fact, just on this alone can make it a solid road-trip-type show where Dumbo, Timothy, his mother, and a handful of the animals can tour the country or even world, and learn about different people, food, cultures, and more! Being the blank slate that he is, Dumbo can just absorb everything taught to him, and Timothy can be his guide. Again, this would have to be more of a Disney Junior-type show, bent on education and cultures.
7. "The Sword in the Stone"; now the "Once and Future King"
I'm always disappointed at how little love "The Sword in the Stone" gets, Though not for lack of understanding. It's a sluggishly-paced movie that hinges predominantly in the likability of young King Arthur, AKA Wart, and Merlin the wizard. But in the T. H. White novel, just as in the movie to a much lesser extent, the point is to teach Wart the qualities of being a great King.
Once the crown is placed on young Wart's head, and he is flanked by Merlin and his cranky owl Archimedes, plus millions of zealous followers, we are left to ask, now what? What happened between the timid and meek lad to the heroic ruler? Well, here's where it gets real: as selfless and kind as Wart is, being a king is not without the issues of politics. What is the better move? How does a timid boy do in diplomatic situations? What if he finds the palace guards are becoming unruly toward the peasants? How many issues can he resolve without resorting to force? What would he do if the kingdom turned against him?
Some of these question may be boring or even intense, but that's the point: far too many shows are only invested in showing "good" versus "evil" that we need to show kids that morality has shades of gray. Sometimes the right answer isn't clear cut. Sometimes there aren't easy answers. But of course we need Merlin there to guide him and to keep it fun: a healthy dose of magic and light-heartedness, plus some future insight. Imagine Merlin researching events in history to educate Wart in how to be a true and proper king. Honestly, if that aspect were to be taken seriously, I'd watch it so hard.
6."Song of the South"; now "Br'er Rabbit"
One day my passion and bias for "Song of the South" is going to be the end of me, but not today!
Over the past several decades, we've watched all sorts of predator-prey cartoon dynamics that have become the stuff of legends: Tom and Jerry. Roadrunner and Coyote. Sylvester and Tweety. Elmer Fudd and and Bugs Bunny. Chip and Dale and Donald Duck. So while a series about Br'er Rabbit narrowly escaping the clutches of a temperamental fox and a gullible bear may not be completely original, it will provide a unique spin.
Br'er Rabbit is loaded with a cocksure attitude, making him relatable and accessible, and Br'er Fox is certainly his equal in that field. Kind of like Tom and Jerry, there's a mutual respect between them so that there's an obvious predator-prey relationship going, but if they had to work together for a greater good, it wouldn't be jarring. Throw in Br'er Bear and Br'er Frog, plus maybe cameos from the Big Bad Wolf or Louis the alligator from "The Princess and the Frog", and you have a show full of energy, friendship, and fun.
5. "Bolt"; now "Bolt the Super Dog"
Not long after "Toy Story" revolutionized the field of animation, we got a unique show that tried to focus on Buzz Lightyear. Not the toy, or the toy who thought he was a space ranger, but the actual show character, laser, Star Command, Zurg, the whole nine yards. It was a decent show, but it was definitely a comedy more than it was an action show. "Bolt" can fix that.
i liked the idea of the show within the 2008 movie: a girl and her dog taking down a crime syndicate who have kidnapped her father, thanks to her spy gadgets and clever thinking, and her super-powered dog. Maybe still giving the dog a voice would keep it engaging for the young ones: allowing Bolt to interrogate various animals for information when he and Penny are on Dr. Calico' trail. Just maintain the action, the sense of danger and peril, and I would be tuning in weekly.
4. "Pirates of the Caribbean"; now "Young Jack Sparrow"
Prequels can be precarious. In the case of "Smallville", the Superman TV series, it was non-canon, but it still had to build up Clark Kent's journey from dorky teen with seemingly arbitrary powers to the Man of Steel in ten seasons. At some point, everything has to come together to make the main character become the one we see in the movies, but hopefully not before the network pulls the plug on it.
With Jack Sparrow, the man has such a mysterious past. No one, except maybe Joshamee Gibbs knows why Jack is who he is. But the official reason Jack became a pirate, according to Disney, was because as a sailor for the East India Trading Company, he refused to transport slaves, explaining that "people aren't cargo, mate".
But as a pirate, we want to know more. How did he come by the compass? How did he end up becoming a pirate lord? Why did he strike a deal with Davy Jones over the Black Pearl? How far back does his relationship with Gibbs go? Or Hector Barbossa? Where did he learn his slick-tongued skills? When did his relationship with Angelica happen?
Maybe this is all like Anakin Skywalker, we don't need to know the entire backstory, for fear of over-emotionalizing him, but at least we know it's all so complex enough to keep people captivated!
3. "Big Hero 6"; now "San Fransokyo"
"Big Hero 6", like "Ant-Man" and "Guardians of the Galaxy", was a down-and-out comic series from Marvel that had no foreseeable future. But through some clever writing and plenty of endearing characters, we got one heck of a treat. And by virtue of being a superhero movie, it means that they can come up with just about anything to have plenty of bad guys and keep the action coming.
The raw inexperience of the the team helped make them identifiable in the movie, but as time goes on, they need to stay strong to take on San Fransokyo's criminal underworld. And better still, if we could work in a Spider-Man or Avengers crossover, that'd be awesome.
2. "The Incredibles"; now "Incredible"
While "Big Hero 6" has a lot going for it, it doesn't quite match up to that of Pixar's super team, The Incredibles. Why? Well, a team of teenaged superheroes is nothing new. The whole "lying to parents and teachers" shtick is so old hat it stopped being entertaining when Lee and Kirby were still writing and drawing. But a family of superheroes? That's something new!
Well, except for "Sky High". And "Up Up and Away". And the "X's". But otherwise, TOTALLY unique and different!
Old ex-foes coming out of the woodwork? Maybe one of them becomes mayor of the city? Would other heroes show up? Would the Superhero Registration Act be lifted? What if a superhero of Superman's fame sand caliber came into town? What if a "Batman v. Superman" showdown were to take place, threatening the fragile nature of the suspended superhero law? Would Marvel characters make appearances? The possibilities write themselves!
1. "The Great Mouse Detective"; now "Basil of Baker Street"
Like I said before, if you want to write a TV series that's a prequel to an established film, make sure you can take liberties when you write it. Explore character depth and motivations that can blossom into something thought-provoking and fun. Especially considering that, aside from "Gravity Falls", mysteries are often eschewed by Disney animated TV shows.
While a lesser-known film, "The Great Mouse Detective" still has larger-than-life characters. Basil, a cunning detective with Gregory House-like tendencies, and his arch-nemesis, Ratigan, a criminal mastermind rat cloaked in suave sophistication: this is the stuff great hero/villain dynamics are made of.
Best of all, it doesn't matter when the show ends: whether they might have begun as close friends or Basil has simply followed is evil schemes fruitlessly since day one, it still accounts that Basil and Ratigan have chemistry.
Best of all, I'm sure Mr. Maurice LaMarche would jump at the chance to flex his Vincent Price impression.