Top 3: Small to Big Screen Adaptations with guest Chris Becker

By Ricky Herbst, Cinema Program Director for the Browning Cinema, October 12, 2018

[About a 3 MIN read]

It’s a very special episode of Top Three [insert Registered Trademark symbol here… if it would only apply. Get back to us, USPTO!] because Ted and Ricky are talking about when TV shows get so big the little screen simply can’t hold them anymore— we’re talking about the Top Three films to be adapted from television shows. With them is the best person in the world for such a conversation, Professor Chris Becker, who teaches in Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre. Of the F, T, and T, Chris primarily focuses on the Television side of things and literally knows oodles of history about how film and television have cross-pollinated throughout the millennia.

Blues Brothers

Chris’s three films kick off with one of the most expensive (and successful, using the same financial yardstick) Saturday Night Live adaptations. That’d be The Blues Brothers, John Landis’s 1980 film on a mission from God that might just be playing at the Browning Cinema in the near future. (Stay tuned!) Next up is the infinitely quotable and quoted Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was adapted faithfully from the CBS cartoon Dungeons & Dragons from the early 1980s. Rounding out her Top Three is The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! from 1988, which as the name suggests is based off the short-but-bright-burning run of Police Squad! from earlier in the decade, and marks both the pitching debut of Queen Elizabeth II and the singing debut of Enrico Palazzo.

Wayne's World

Ever the bastion of highbrowness with Top Three, Ricky stays true to form with Jackass: The Movie from 2002. Somewhat unique to the film is that its reviews tend to be very polarizing but which direction they’re tilting can be difficult to discern. For example, is the “feel-sick movie of the year” a compliment? After trying to answer that question, Ricky moves on to 1992’s Wayne’s World, the only Saturday Night Live adaptation bigger than The Blue Brothers—and also one of the rare nesting dolls to feature a TV-show-within-a-TV-show-made-into-a-movie. Ricky closes his lot with A Very Brady Sequel from 1996, which continues the fish-out-of-water nature of The Brady Bunch Movie from the year prior but, much like TV shows as seasons pass, ups the ante on the hijinks.

Head 1968

Ever the bastion of lowbrowness with Top Three, Ted starts out with Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973), a film condensed from the six-part miniseries Bergman also directed that depicts a disintegrating marriage over a decade. Ted chases that feel-good romp with the trippy Head from 1968, an extension of The Monkees presence on television that, reportedly, had a scenario written while the screenwriters were smoking marijuana and then those scenarios were cobbled into a script while the screenwriter was on LSD, which one wouldn’t find all that surprising when watching it. Lastly, Ted presents Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop from 2009, an adaptation of The Thick of It, which ran for a couple of seasons (or series, as it were) on BBC. It also has an American cousin in Iannucci’s Veep, which similarly scrutinizes the pettiness and insecurity of governmental officials through the lens of creative swearing and insults.

As always, big thanks to Kevin Krizmanich for handling the sound engineering and to Staci Stickovich for giving each episode its online home.