Understanding the Charlie’s Angels phenomenon

Written by Omair Alavi

Here’s a brief look at television shows that became film franchises including the most recent film, Charlie’s Angels.

Television and film have always had a rocky relationship; they can’t exist without each other. From the 1960s, successful films have been adapted by the television industry. For example It Takes A Thief was inspired by To Catch A Thief; Automan was an inspired version of Tron, and so on. While several popular TV shows have tried their hands at films, they are met with both success and failures. If you don’t count superhero films – nearly all first appeared on TV and later became films – then only a handful of TV shows managed to become successful film franchises as well.

After the recent release of the third Charlie’s Angels movie, we decided to go down memory lane and present some of the most successful film franchises, especially the ones that have been around for quite some time…

Star Trek (13 films)

Star Trek changed the way science fiction shows were made on TV when it made its debut in 1966. For three seasons it kept the audience glued to their seats before it was canceled for no apparent reason. However, due to the show’s popularity around the world, the producers decided to go ahead with the first Star Trek film (1979), and in 40 years, there have been 12 Star Trek movies and countless TV shows, making it the most profitable import from television.

From Leonard Nimoy to William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes to J. J. Abrams, the film series changed directors but the story, the characters, and the excitement remained the same.

Mission Impossible (6 films)

If you were a spy buff, the 1960s was the time to be around as television back then featured shows that revolved around spies who could do no wrong. Mission Impossible was one such TV series that had a successful run in the 1960s and the 1970s, lasting for seven seasons. Its popularity compelled the producers to return 15 years later on TV for two seasons, with the same Lalo Schifrin theme, Peter Graves helming the series and a team of superspies that knew what they were doing. In 1996, the series graduated to cinema with Tom Cruise leading the way as a character who wasn’t a part of the TV series – Ethan Hunt – and raising the bar with his energy. So far, six Mission Impossible films have smashed records at the box office and redefined the way action thrillers were made.

The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad (3 films)

Although this police comedy show, Police Squad! was canceled after just six episodes back in 1982, the creators knew that they had an explosive series on their hands. That’s why when they decided to take the idea to Hollywood and struck gold. With Leslie Nielsen leading the way as Lt Frank Debrin (the same character from the show) with film stars George Kennedy as Capt Ed Hocken, O J Simpson as Det Nordberg taking over from TV actors, the three films: The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!, The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult are still popular despite the last one having been released 25 years later.

Charlie’s Angels (3 films)

When Charlie’s Angels made its debut in 1976, it gave the TV shows of the era a run for their money; it had an all-female ensemble that stood for those who couldn’t stand for themselves. For five seasons, the TV show was amongst the best in the world and its leading ladies – Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts – as a result were some of the most famous actresses in the world. So, when it was rebooted in 2000, people were curious if the creators would be able to do justice to the show with the film. With Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu playing the ‘Angels’ and McG calling the shots, it was destined to shine. Both Charlie’s Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle did well at the box office and a third and fourth film was also in development, but it couldn’t materialize. A reboot TV series also happened in 2011 but it was canceled after just eight episodes, making the audience wait till 2019 when Elizabeth Banks’ version hit the screens. The audience’s response to Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott playing the ‘Angels’ wasn’t favorable and it seems the franchise will have to go on a hiatus before returning with a bang.

The Equalizer (2 films and counting)

Finally, The Equalizer, the famous 1980s television show that ran for four seasons and advanced the failing career of veteran actor Edward Woodward. It also introduced the audience to Robert McCall who specialized in equalizing situations, favoring those who shouldn’t be favored. After the series was canceled in 1989, it was presumed forgotten until director Antoine Fuqua revived it as a film with Denzel Washington playing the lead role. In the two Equalizer films, the veteran actor helps those who couldn’t help themselves while striking gold at the box office. A reboot TV series with Queen Latifah in the lead is also under development whereas director Antoine Fuqua has already shown interest in carrying the franchise forward with Denzel Washington.

Omair Alavi – The News

About the author

Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi is a highly regarded journalist, critic, and commentator, specializing in news, sports, showbiz, film, blogs, articles, drama, reviews, and PTV drama. With extensive experience and a keen eye for storytelling, he captivates audiences with his insightful analysis and compelling presentations. His expertise and contributions have made him a prominent figure in the media and entertainment industry.