Hollywood has been churning out big screen movies for nearly a century, and TV shows for about 70 years. That’s a helluva lot of time, so it is totally understandable that some bad habits have been picked up along the way. While many can be overlooked, there are several that range from annoying to outright aggravating. I’m not saying that all examples of these trends are bad, but overall these are the bad movie and television habits Hollywood needs to stop (or at least ease up on). Here are the worst offenders…
MOVIES TO TV SHOWS: Do you remember in the early 90’s when all those movies based on SNL skits came out? The biggest complaint most people had about them was that stretching a eight minute sketch into a 90 minute movie was unnecessary. Now, switch that up and imagine turning a 2 hour movie into a multi season TV series with 22 episodes per season. Yeah, it doesn’t work so well. I’m well aware that one of the most successful shows of all time, M*A*S*H, was based on a movie. Buffy the Vampire Slayer lands among many top 10 lists for best shows of all time. Currently, Lethal Weapon has done a great job of capturing the magic that made the movies so popular (and was just awarded a second season). But, more often than not, the show is destined for failure. When the TV show in question is missing the actors, budget, gore, violence and/or sex of the movie it is adapted from, there isn’t many reasons to turn in. Limitless, The Omen, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Terminator and The Exorcist are all examples of failed series based off of movies. Taken premieres this week and honestly… three movies was pushing it. Exactly how many times can his family get taken? If you want to bring a hit movie to a TV series, please make sure it’s premise can actually sustain multiple episodes
INSTANT/UNNECESSARY REBOOTS: There was a time, not long ago, when fading franchises were quietly retired and never heard from again. Now, if a movie flops or a TV show is quickly cancelled, the producers think about what could be fixed and relaunch a “new & improved” version. Usually, this version is worse. A recent example is Spider-Man. The first movies released in 2002 and 2004 were great, but a third film released in 2007 was a hot mess. Unwilling to give up on the series, Sony Pictures decided to reboot the series instead of making a 4th film in the original series. In 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man came out, and it was less than amazing. The follow up was even worse. Now, the character is being rebooted again as part of the MCU. On TV, we have MacGyver. I’ll be honest, the original 80’s show was my favorite show as a kid – and it was VERY 80’s. For some reason, they decided to reboot it and the new version was made for hate-watching. These two shows are just a fraction of the unwanted reboots Hollywood is forcing down our throats.
SPLITTING SINGLE MOVIES INTO MULTIPLE PARTS: I’ll say it right away – this trend was started by movie studios strictly for the purpose of making more money. Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games all split the final movie in the series into two parts. The Hobbit split a film based on a 300 page book into three movies!! Luckily, this may be one trend that may be over soon. While the second parts of the Potter and and Twilight movies were blockbusters, the final Hunger Games made substantially less money than its predecessors. The final movie in the Divergent series was supposed to be split up as well, but due to underwhelming returns on the first part of the finale, the final film was more or less cancelled. Even Marvel decided against splitting the third Avengers movie into two parts, and is now making two separate films. Fingers crossed that this is one bad habit Hollywood has broken.
COPYCATS: A movie or series becomes insanely popular, so everyone wants a piece of the pie. They each create their own story with a similar plot, and soon we are flooded with similar movies or TV shows. Too many and the novelty wears off, leading to increasingly smaller returns. I’m not talking about the most basic ideas (doctor shows, cops shows, superhero shows, etc…), I mean the overall theme. Think of how many Game of Throne or Walking Dead ripoffs have popped up on screen recently. There are at least seven shows centered around time travel currently airing. Viewer fatigue is going to set in eventually. It kind of makes me yearn for the days when there was a whopping two movies about an asteroid heading to earth coming out at the same time.
VIDEO GAME MOVIES: I don’t so much want this trend to end, I am more hoping that Hollywood finally figures out a way to do it right. There are literally hundreds of great video games out there that would make great films. Yet, instead of adapting movie-ready games like The Last of Us or Uncharted, we get crap like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros. While there has been a few that were financially successful, and a couple that wound up being not bad, Hollywood still can’t figure out how to make a game-based movie that is both well received and makes money. For example, while the Resident Evil film series has made money, the movies themselves are trash. And Warcraft was a complete bomb, but wasn’t a bad movie at all. Hell, even Assassin’s Creed – probably the game most qualified for live action – made for a boring mess.
UNRESOLVED CLIFFHANGERS: Since the serials that appeared in movie theaters back in the good old days, cliffhangers have been a major part of film making. You get the audience excited, then leave them wanting more. The practice has become more and more popular over the years, and we are now at the point that it appears constantly on television and in movies. In moderation, it can work to great effect – as long as there is a guaranteed payoff. The issue is that more often than not, that payoff doesn’t come. Many series end with questions that never get a resolution. I understand episodes get filmed in advance and a sudden cancellation could happen at any time, but the higher ups most likely know far enough ahead if the end is coming. Why not film two separate endings, one that gives closure and another that leaves things open. Air the ending that won’t anger the viewers.
EXTENDED TV HIATUSES: One new trend that I actually love is shorter, smaller seasons of television shows that air every episode without breaks (think 24:Legacy). I get newsworthy events happen in real life that can cause a series to take an unexpected week off, and that airing new programming over Christmas is a lost cause, but there is no reason for a show to have three weeks off, air a new episode, then take two more weeks off. This is a major reason live television viewership is down and people are binge watching their favorite shows at their convenience. The CW network has mastered how to schedule properly. Their full season shows start later in the fall, and air until Christmas, then air the rest of the episodes from late January to May – with very few, if any, reruns. Their shorter season shows, like The 100, air in continuous blocks and then another series takes over. I wish other networks would learn from them.
OVER EXPLANATION: I have a feeling this doesn’t bother many people, but it drives me absolutely crazy. Instead of having traditional opening credits or getting right into the action, many shows have their premise completely explained at the top of the episode. Think of the old “previously on…” openers, but saying the same thing over and over and over again. There’s no problem if a little bit of explanation shows up in the first episode of the show, but when you’re halfway through the third season of a series chances are anyone watching already knows what the show is about. I don’t need to know how the Flash got his powers or how the Scorpion team got together. Though usually less than a minute long, this time could easily be spent on a catchy theme song. Viewers aren’t stupid, we don’t need our hands held every week.
SHIFTING FOCUS: Another thing that bugs me to no end is when movie makers feel the need to shift the focus of movie sequels to a supporting character or turn an ensemble into a one man show. Think Mater from Cars, Stifler from American Pie or Chang from The Hangover. Some characters are better in small doses, and too much of a good thing can ruin a movie. Also, it isn’t fair to sideline the actors responsible for the success of the first film. If filmmakers feel the need to focus on a specific character, why not make a spin-off film instead?
There are other things that bother people, but they need no explanation. Excessive (and bad) CGI. Trailers that spoil the entire movie. Toning down aspects of a movie/TV to make a specific group happy. I know the likelihood of anything on this list being stopped is pretty much non-existent, but if we viewers show we don’t stand for this nonsense, maybe there is a (small) chance that things can at least change.