TV series based on established intellectual properties are nothing new, but this season it does feel as though networks have been ordering more film-based pilots than usual. Not to be left out of the fun, ABC has likewise put in an order for Uncle Buck, based on writer/director John Hughes’ critically/comercially-successful 1989 comedy film.
Hughes’ movie revolves around lovable slob Buck Russell (played by the late, great, John Candy) and his efforts to care for his nieces and nephew – played by such folk as Macaulary Culkin and Gaby Hoffman (Girls) – during a family emergency. The new series will carryover that same premise… much as CBS’s own Uncle Buck series (with Kevin Meaney assuming Candy’s role) did, back in 1990.
Deadline is reporting that the new Uncle Buck pilot – written by MADtv alums Brian Bradley and Steven Cragg – will carryover the same premise as Hughes’ movie, albeit in a comedy TV show format. Bradley and Cragg have already sold one pilot this season (original comedy People Are Talking at NBC), and are onboard to serve as co-exexutive producers for the Uncle Buck series too.
Thus far this pilot season, Fox has ordered pilots for Minority Report and Big TV series, NBC has given the go-ahead to a Problem Child TV show pilot, and CBS has green-lit pilots for shows based on Rush Hour and Limitless. Most of these IPs have required a reasonable amount of tinkering to fit a serialized storytelling format, but Uncle Buck seems to lend itself more naturally to an episodic sitcom series. Of course, that didn’t prevent the 1990 Uncle Buck TV show from only running for a single season (and receiving largely negative reviews from critics).
Shows like Uncle Buck and Rush Hour will presumably live or die based largely on their casting and appeal of their leads, whereas the concepts will be the bigger selling point for such series as Limitless and Minority Report – in the beginning, anyway. That’s not to say the latter shows won’t have to fight for attention (sci-fi TV programs aren’t exactly in short supply after all), but something like Uncle Buck will probably sound more like a generic sitcom to anyone unfamiliar with Hughes’ original film.
There have been a handful of success stories when it comes to movies-turned TV shows in recent years, be it on public TV (see: About a Boy) or cable television (see: Fargo). Then again, there have also been some pretty notable failures – such as the abandoned Beverly Hills Cop TV show – so it’ll be interesting to see which of these new film-based series are still alive, when the dust has settled.
We’ll bring you more information on the Uncle Buck TV series when we have it.