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Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

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Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Old 02-02-09, 11:46 PM
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Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Has there ever been a TV series that has just been an adaption of a book? I'm not talking about using a book as a basis of a series but taking a novel and just translating it in the form of a TV show (1 season for a book), not just a mini-series.

What got me thinking of this is I recently reread The Stand. While the TV mini-series was pretty good, I was noticing that they left parts out. The book is large enough that they could possibly adapt it into a 1 season TV series (maybe not a full 20 episodes but much more than a mini-series). Sure they would have to expand some scenes but there seems to be enough material in the book that they wouldn't have to create huge chunks of non-book material.
Old 02-02-09, 11:52 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Homicide: Life on the Street based on "Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets" by David Simon
Old 02-03-09, 12:48 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

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Old 02-03-09, 01:02 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Songs of Fire and Ice if it ever gets made is supposed to be a season per book.
Old 02-03-09, 07:34 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Did that new Legend of the Seeker series stick to one book or hop around?
Old 02-03-09, 07:36 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

The first season of Dexter.
Old 02-03-09, 07:42 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

The Paper Chase (although it was made into a movie first).
Old 02-03-09, 09:12 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Gossip Girl and Crusoe maybe?

Considering that American networks tend to bilk as much out of a successful series, I doubt you'll find a true example that isn't a mini series. Frankly, I think several book series could be made into 6-8 season shows if the networks were patient enough with the ratings - like say Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. True Blood has already taken several liberties that stray from the original book plots.

The BBC did make a serials called "The Chronicles of Naria" which essentially went though "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", and "The Silver Chair".

Also "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" may count as well as it was launched as a BBC TV series. The first book became 6 episode, but disagreements between the BBC and Adams prevented subsequent seasons.
Old 02-04-09, 12:48 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Well, some of the "miniseries" from the past could qualify since they were as long as many tv seasons today. We think of miniseries today as being maybe a two-part series (total running time about 3 1/2 hours), but older miniseries were much longer, even if they aired in two-hour installments over a week or so (like the 3-night Lonesome Dove miniseries that ran about 5 hours).

I'm guessing at the times but think they're pretty close:

Centennial ran for 26 hours, which is longer than most current series. It could probably be divided into one-hour episodes & would still find an audience today.

Shogun ran for 13 hours, I believe.

The Winds of War (and the sequel, War & Remembrance) were both lengthy miniseries. I believe the latter encompassed 26 hours or so.

Don't know how long "Rich Man, Poor Man" was since I never watched it, but it seemed to go on forever.

NBC aired a series called the NBC Novel For Television (or something similar). They adapted Captains & the Kings (just now released on DVD), Once An Eagle, & several other novels...each running for 6-7 (more or less) installments. I believe Captains was 10 hours long.

Masterpiece Theater has aired some pretty long adaptations. For example:

Poldark ran for two 13-episode seasons & adapted several novels.
I, Claudius was 13 episodes.
The Forysyte Saga was quite long, too (the recent version was divided into 2 "seasons").
All Creatures Great & Small ran for seven or eight seasons. Don't know how much from the book or its three sequels was included.

I think that the problem with spending an entire season adapting a novel would be dividing the book into one-hour episodes that could sustain the audience's interest. You'd need a pretty massive novel to begin with to provide enough characters & subplots...something along the lines of "War & Peace". Then you have to consider the pacing. In a book, you can have some pretty slow-moving chapters that are basically character development or set up future action. Modern audiences with their limited attention spans seem to have little patience for this & would want "something" to happen in every episode. Soap opera fans have learned to be patient & wait for the payoffs since they've got the entire week to let the story work out. Weekly series don't have that luxury & can't risk losing their audiences to slow-moving plots. That's why miniseries such as Roots & Centennial were perfect for television...they had a wide assortment of characters & locales & the action took place over a long period of time (and was fairly constant).

Another problem with producing such a series would be the constant pre-empting for holidays, etc. that could potentially kill an episodic series. Even with shows such as Lost, Heroes, 24, Prison Break, etc., I'm sure that some viewers just give up when the show goes on hiatus from November until late January...and those are "action-oriented" shows. Most novels don't have the constant cliffhanger hooks (Winds of War was an exception). That's why I think you'll probably only see what you're talking about in a PBS production which relies on a smaller audience but one that has exhibited more patience. Also, PBS tends to show

Last edited by creekdipper; 02-04-09 at 12:55 AM.
Old 02-04-09, 07:23 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Originally Posted by rfduncan View Post
Also "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" may count as well as it was launched as a BBC TV series. The first book became 6 episode, but disagreements between the BBC and Adams prevented subsequent seasons.
The TV series was actually based on the radio show, not on the novel.
Old 02-04-09, 07:31 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post
Well, some of the "miniseries" from the past could qualify since they were as long as many tv seasons today. We think of miniseries today as being maybe a two-part series (total running time about 3 1/2 hours), but older miniseries were much longer, even if they aired in two-hour installments over a week or so (like the 3-night Lonesome Dove miniseries that ran about 5 hours).
Tales of the City would work for this too, though they didn't finish it.
Old 02-04-09, 09:11 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

The very short lived Karen Sisco series with Carla Gugino was based characters from Elmore Leonard's "Out of Sight" - and of course the movie of the same name - and the recent dvd of LA Confidential has what would have been the pilot episode of the series with Keifer Sutherland, based on James Ellroy's novel.
Old 02-04-09, 11:57 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

How about North and South? 3 books, 15 episodes
Old 02-04-09, 12:04 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

"Gossip Girl" used the first book as the pilot story and then went in a crazy different direction from the rest of the books.

There was a show on ABC awhile back called "life as we know it" based on a book "doing it" and it pretty much followed the book through the first 10/11 episodes (the series only lasted 13).
Old 02-04-09, 12:13 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

I would wait a decade or more, but I think the Harry Potter books could make a very successful TV series. The problem is that the books are so popular that the big season finales wouldn't be a surprise to anybody.

The school year structure and setting at Hogwarts would make it very easy to come up with sub-plots for a 22 episode season while furthering the overall arc.
Old 02-04-09, 12:16 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

They could always do something like "Hogwarts" that picks up where the books left off and follows a new group of characters.
Old 02-04-09, 01:25 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

band of brothers right
Old 02-04-09, 01:27 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Originally Posted by JimmySRU View Post
band of brothers right
True, but not a novel.
Old 02-04-09, 01:43 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

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Old 02-04-09, 01:51 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

I think you have lots of pacing issues fitting a novel to 22 episodes. To avoid plodding along, 13 episode is probably a more suitable quantity.
Old 02-04-09, 10:49 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

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Old 02-04-09, 11:44 PM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Jeeves and Wooster is based on PG Wodehouse novels.
Old 02-05-09, 12:18 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

Originally Posted by staale View Post
How about North and South? 3 books, 15 episodes
If you can do that, which seems to include miniseries, then The Stand was only one book, and...wasn't that like, six hours or something?

Just IMDB'd it. Yup, 366 minutes. Even more hours with original commercials, then.

And that was the shit.
Old 02-05-09, 07:30 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

I believe Rockford Files was loosely based on Travis McGee novels but I could be wrong
Old 02-05-09, 09:15 AM
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Re: Has there ever been a novel adaption as a TV series?

The Unit is based on Eric Haney's book, "Inside Delta Force," but I don't believe that's a novel.

Edit: Ditto the situation for "Friday Night Lights."

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