Veronica Mars and TV-Inspired Movies

Veronica Mars TV series posterThere once was a teenage private detective named Veronica Mars who lived in the coastal town of Neptune, California and wowed viewers with her spy skills, quick wit, and tumultuous relationships. The Veronica Mars TV series aired from 2004 to 2007 and was cancelled, to the massive disappointment of many faithful viewers — I among them.

So when creator Rob Thomas and series star Kristen Bell launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2 million to make a Veronica Mars movie, I thought, What a good idea. Which was followed immediately by concern that this was a bad idea. Because TV series brought to screen are sometimes not all they’re cracked up to be.

Take, for instance, one of my favorite television series, The Avengers, starring Patrick Macnee as John Steed and various co-stars including Diana Rigg as Emma Peel. Years later they decided to make the movie, with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman in the starring roles. I couldn’t wait to see Steed and Peel together again. Bad, bad idea. None of the chemistry, the quirkiness, the magic of the original British series translated at all to the big screen remake. Not only was I disappointed, I was miffed at how badly they had desecrated the iconic TV show.

But then again, there was Dragnet, the original series created by and starring Jack Webb as detective Joe Friday. When the movie remake came out with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, I was skeptical. Would the film capture the spirit of the original while treading new ground as well? Indeed, it far exceeded my expectations. And provided a marvelous villain performance by Christopher Plummer as well. Well done, Dragnet.

To me, the record on other TV-to-movie offerings has been mixed. Here are a few I’ve seen:

Charlie’s Angels
The Flintstones
The Fugitive
George of the Jungle
Get Smart
Mission Impossible
Serenity (Firefly)
Star Trek

There are plenty of others I haven’t seen — like The Brady Bunch Movie, Dukes of Hazzard, MaverickScooby Doo, and Sex and the City. But it’s a risk to take a beloved TV series with 30-minute to one-hour episodes and then find a big enough story worth telling on the big screen.

So how did this one measure up? Was Veronica Mars worth the over $5 million ultimately raised on Kickstarter through 91,000+ donors?

Julie w/two friends & marshmallows in their mouths
We had our marshmallows ready!

I went into the Saturday afternoon showing with low expectations and emerged very happy. The film makers did a good job of maintaining the characters, paying homage to the TV series, and yet recognizing that we’re several years down the road. If you weren’t a fan of Veronica Mars, I think the movie still holds up on its own. But if you were a fan of Veronica Mars, you should find something in here that stirs up good memories and sucks you back into the fictional community of Neptune and its residents.

And now I’m a little more hopeful about the trend to take good TV series and make them into movies. For the times that it pays off, it’s worth the risk.

ROW80 Update

Now let’s look at the payoff of my last week with A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Participants choose their own goals and report weekly or twice weekly on their progress. Here are my round’s goals and my week’s progress on each:

1. Read 12 books. Read #12, A Marine to Remember by Danette Fogarty (fiction), and #13, Writing from the Middle, a short book by James Scott Bell (nonfiction). Goal met for this round! But of course, I’ll keep reading.

2. Complete two drafts of short stories. First story is done, and I reworked a couple of chapters in the second story. Thanks to a wonderful idea from my lovely teenage friend “A” this week, I resolved one remaining story issue. I can see it all coming together now, and I’m close to having a full draft. Good progress this week.

3. Take care of ROW80 sponsor responsibilities. Checked in on the Sunday and Wednesday posts from my crew. Good weeks overall. Done.

4. Edit at least once through Good & Guilty, young adult mystery Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary. This goal has been taking a back seat each week to my short stories, which I expected to take less time than they have. Here’s hoping I can tackle this with greater fervor this week, especially since my kids’ Spring Break is over and they’re returning to school. Progress? Not so much.

So what do you think of TV shows made into movies? What are some of the best and worst you’ve seen? Are you a Veronica Mars fan? And how was your week?

16 thoughts on “Veronica Mars and TV-Inspired Movies

  1. I joined the Veronica Mars crowd late, as in caught it all via Netflix late. I’ll see the movie though I doubt I’ll go to the theater to do so. I’m right there with you on the hit and miss of TV series being made into movies. A lot like books being made into movies, or TV series.

    Good progress this week Julie. Wishing you a fabulous upcoming week.

  2. TV show to movies make me nervous too. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to seeing the Veronica Mars movie now.
    You had a great week, Julie. I’ll be cheering you on to finish your second story. Go, Julie! 😀

  3. I only saw a couple of episodes of “Veronica Mars.” I coudln’t really get into it, but I did like that the actor who played Elliott on “Just Shoot Me” was in it. I think some TV shows made into movies work, and some don’t. I liked “Bewitched” and “Leave it to Beaver,” but there was something missing from both movies. I didn’t like the “Sex and the City” movie so much. I would love to see a “Gilmore Girls” movie, but I’m not sure if it would live up to my expectations.
    It wasn’t a bad week, except for getting laid off on Friday. (Although the way things started off when I came back after the last layoff, I think that may be a good thing as long as it only lasts a few weeks this time)

    1. Veronica’s dad, played by Enrico Colantoni, was terrific. Loved his role! He’s good in the movie too. And ooh, a Gilmore Girls movie? That’s intriguing. It’s one of my favorite shows ever, and I’d love to see Lorelai and Rory together again — with Melissa McCarthy as Sookie too!

      As to your week…oh my! Hope the layoff is short-lived. Best wishes with the search.

  4. I’ve never seen Veronica Mars, so I can’t weigh in on that one. I think you have similar problems with TV to movie as you do with book to movie…or to TV. If you don’t stay true to the characters, you have a problem. I did like the Star Trek movies. And, of course, Serenity. 🙂

    1. Agreed. Books to movies are a toss-up as well, although in some ways it may be even harder because you simply can’t fit everything from a book into film length. I also enjoyed the Star Trek movies (with the exception of the horrible one William Shatner directed). Have a great week, Lauralynn!

  5. I don’t think that TV shows made into movies go well in general, largely because the people who wrote the series don’t write the movie, and because too often the writers have to add sex, violence, and other crudity to the movie script to sell it to the suits in Hollywood. I haven’t seen one big-screen adaptation of a small-screen show that I really enjoyed, “Dragnet” being the exception, and that’s only because Dan Aykroyd did such a fantastic job of playing Joe Friday. (For me, the funniest scene in the movie was when they interview the lady at her house, because it was so much like the show.) I couldn’t even begin to imagine what terrible things they’d do to one of the cop dramas from the ’70’s.

    My week was status quo, at least the new status quo that I’ve been living since August. You had a good week.

    1. Yes, I felt like Dan Aykroyd took great care to stay true to Jack Webb’s vision while retelling the story in contemporary times. I was pleased with how faithfully he delivered his performance. As to 70s cop shows, I know that 21 Jump Street and Starsky & Hutch also became movies, but I don’t remember hearing anything good about them.

      Have a marvelous week!

  6. It’s good to hear that the Veronica Mars movie was good. I admit I’ve never seen the movie, but the premise sounds interesting.

    Nice work on your goals!

  7. My husband is the movie watcher (and mostly the TV watcher) in our house, so I see more of these things than I intend to. Personally, I’m not a fan of remakes, but some are done oddly well. Two on your list of “haven’t seen”s I got to see some of, and once I got past what I remembered, I had fun.
    The Scooby Doo movie(s)… better than expected, and our son (a die-hard Scooby fan) loved them both.
    The Dukes of Hazard… was all spoof; it was pretty clear the writers weren’t even trying to be serious about things
    Still, ymmv.

    Yay on achieving so many goals, Julie. Especially the reading one. When the chaos seasons kick in, you’ll have a lot of stored up “awesome” to daydream about (even if the actual book pile grows faster than you can read). 😀

  8. I didn’t watch “Veronica Mars” when it was on TV, but now you have me intrigued. I wonder if the show is available on Netflix. I thought “Serenity” was a great movie–true to the show and a great way to provide closure for a series that didn’t get to have closure on TV. With many screen adaptations–of both books and TV shows–it’s hit or miss. Sometimes the movie is solid gold, other times not so much. I’m glad to hear this one lived up to the hype!

  9. Never watched Veronica Mars. I’ve liked all of the Star Trek movies, even those not considered to be the good ones. But I have to agree with the poster above on Dukes of Hazard–that one was just wrong on so many levels.

    Sounds like you had a good week and got a lot done even with the kids home!

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