Friday, December 8, 2017

Four More PG-13 Movies with Animated Spin-Offs Aimed at Kids (It'll be Great on TV Too, Part 5!)

                While not nearly as bad as animated spin-offs based on R-rated movies, there are quite a few animated series based on PG-13 movies (five were covered two weeks ago).  Again, while the movies have questionable content for the target age, Producers still think that an animated spin-off would be a good idea.  Here are four more PG-13 movies which led to Animated Spin-Offs
                Completing the Jim Carrey animated spin-off trilogy, Dumb and Dumber was a 1994 movie starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.  Carrey plays Lloyd and Daniels plays Harry, two incredibly stupid guys who go on a cross-country trip to return a briefcase of money.  The film was rated PG-13 for off-color humor.  This led to Dumb and Dumber: The Animated Series, and follows Harry and Lloyd as they go on adventures in a dog-shaped van named Otto with a talking pet purple beaver named Kitty.  The show lasted from 1995 to 1996 for 13 episodes. 

                Little Shop of Horrors was a horror-comedy musical 1986 which was based on the off-broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on the low-budget 1960 horror-comedy of the same name.  In the musical, geeky florist shop employee Seymour finds out his venus flytrap plant (Audrey II) can talk (and sing) to him.  The movie was rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including comic horror violence, substance abuse, language and sex references.  In the animated series Little Shop, Seymour is aged down to a teenager and Audrey II’s name is changed to Junior and featured a couple musical numbers in each episode.  Little Shop lasted for one season, from September 7 to November 30, for a total of 13 episodes.

                The next two shows technically had two origins, one as a violent arcade game, and one with a PG-13 level of violence movie.  Because the PG-13 live-action movie happened first, both animated television series, while of course borrowing elements of the video game, also borrowed elements of the movie:
Street Fighter was a 1994 movie based on the video game Street Fighter II.  In Street Fighter, Colonel William F. Gile and his band of “street fighters” team against the tyrannical General M. Bison in the Asian city of Shadaloo.  The movie was rated PG-13 for non-stop martial arts and action violence.  In the Street Fighter animated series, Gil and the Street Fighters face off again against Bison and his criminal empire.  The series lasted two seasons from 1995 to 1997, with 26 total episodes. 

                Mortal Kombat was a 1995 movie based on the video games Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II.  In Mortal Kombat, warrior monk Liu, actor Johnny and soldier Sonya (led by mythical god Raiden) all team up together to battle sorcerer Shang Tsung, in a martial arts tournament to save the world.  The movie was rated PG-13 for non-stop martial arts actions and some violence.  In the Mortal Kombat animated series (known as Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm), Liu, Johnny, and Sonya are joined by Jax, Kitana, Sub-Zero and Nightwolf to help defend Earthrealm from invaders from other dimensions.  The series lasted one season from September 21 to December 14, 1996, with 13 total episodes.

                Dumb and Dumber and Little Shop of Horrors featured inappropriate humor, while Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat had excessive martial arts violence.  Considering the cartoonish nature of the first two movies, and the video game origins of the second group of movies, is it any surprise there were some producers who thought they would make good animated shows for kids?  Here are four more PG-13 movies with animated shows aimed at kids.

It'll be Great on TV, Too Series
Part 4: Five R-rated Movies that Led to Animated Spin-offs Aimed at Kids: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2017/12/five-r-rated-movies-that-led-to.html
Part 3: Five PG-13 Movies with Animated Spin-Offs Aimed at Kids: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2017/11/five-pg-13-movies-with-animated-spin.html
Part 2: Four Disney Animated Television Series based on Animated Movies: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2015/10/itll-be-great-on-tv-too-part-2-four.html
Part 1: Three TV Series Continuations of Movies: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2015/10/its-not-over-yet-three-tv-series.html

Friday, December 1, 2017

Five R-rated Movies that Led to Animated Spin-offs Aimed at Kids (It’ll be Great on TV Too, Part 4!)

                You’d think it would be impossible, but these television series were actually made.  The R-rated movies that they were based on were box office successes in their day.  Their success led to sequel movies being made, plus the idea that some producers had, that this R-rated movie would be a fantastic addition to Saturday morning or weekday afternoons.   Let’s be clear, some of the original R-rated movies also led to movies not rated R and live-action television series aimed at a more general audience.  But the original idea that started the television series came from this R movie.
                Police Academy was released in 1984 and rated R.  It followed a bunch of misfit recruits to the police academy (anyone is allowed to join, due to a police shortage) and the inappropriate trouble they get into after joining the academy.  The band of misfits was led by Carey Mahoney, who joined the academy instead of going to jail.  The original was a success, and a sequel quickly followed the following year, and as the movie series progressed, the content ratings fell from R to PG-13 (for Police Academy 2) to PG (for Police Academy 3 and 4).  By this time, the movie franchise had been established, and the idea of an animated television series didn’t seem so far off.  Granted, making an animated television based on two PG movies seems a lot more reasonable than an R-rated one, but the fact remains that the original Police Academy should not be seen by the target audience for the animated series.  The television series recreated twelve of the main roles, including the main character of the group, Carey and chronologically happened after the Police Academy 4.  The television series lasted two seasons, from 1988 to 1989, in syndication, for 65 total episodes. 

                First Blood (1982) was rated R and followed former Vietnam Vet John Rambo as he was hunted by a sheriff and deputies who believe he is a menace to their town, despite Rambo initially doing nothing wrong.  The sequel, Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) was also rated R and followed Rambo on a mission to rescue Vietnam POWs.  Following the success of Part II, Rambo made his crossover into an animated television series, called Rambo: The Force of Freedom, with Rambo the leader of the Force for Freedom and battling against the paramilitary terrorist group S.A.V.A.G.E. (Specialist Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy, and Global Extortion).  The series was syndicated and lasted one season, between September 15 and December 26, 1986. 

                Robocop was released in 1987 and was rated R.  It followed police officer Alex Murphy in a crime-overrun Detroit, who is nearly killed and brought back as a powerful cyborg (part human, part machine) to fight crime.  In 1988, just one year after the release of the first movie, the animated Robocop was brought to the small screen and follows Robocop on fighting crime, many times against mechanical inventions by the evil Dr. McNamara.  The series lasted 12 episodes, from October 1 to December 17, 1988.  There was a second animated series, Robocop: Alpha Commando, and followed the movies Robocop 2 (1990, rated R) and Robocop 3 (1993, rated PG-13) and a Robocop live-action series (1994).  It was set in 2030 and had Robocop, with new gadgets, battled against DARC (Directorate for Anarchy, Revenge, and Chaos); Alpha Commando lasted for one season and 40 episodes, from 1998 to 1999. 

                Highlander was released in 1986, was rated R, and followed an immortal Scottish swordsman called Connor MacLeod and who battles other “Immortals,” including The Kurgan, who killed his mentor.  Highlander II: the Quickening was released in 1991 and was also rated R.  In 1992, the syndicated live-action Highlander series premiered and introduced Highlander (with a different protagonist, Duncan MacLeod) to a more general audience.  With the success of the live-action series, an animated series was produced.  This animated series followed a descendant of Connor, Quentin MacLeod, as he battled Kortan, an Immortal who established an empire on earth.  The show lasted two seasons and 40 episodes, from 1994 to 1996, one on the USA Network and one syndicated. 

                Starship Troopers was released in 1997 and rated R, and follows Johnny Rico as he joins the Mobile Infantry and eventually winds up fighting in the war between the humans and an insectoid race called the “Arachnids.”  In 1999, the CGI television series Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles (also known as Starship Troopers: the Series) premiered.  It followed the Alpha Team, nicknamed Razak’s Roughnecks, as they went on 5-episode campaigns on their mission to defeat the Arachnids.  While it was meant for the fans of the violent original movie, it was produced by the BKN (Bohbot Kids Network) and aired in syndication for 36 episodes, with four episodes left uncompleted (4 clip show episodes were created to fill the episode order). 

                For good or bad, these television series were produced and created.  Somewhere, producers thought it was a good idea to make an animated series aimed at kids, immediately following Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Robocop, and Starship Troopers.  Highlander and Police Academy had the buffer of a live action TV series and PG movies, respectively, and thus didn’t seem that unrealistic of an idea.  But nevertheless all six TV series (2 with Robocop) originated with an R-rated movie and became a weird interesting chapter in the life of each series’ franchise.

It'll be Great on TV Too, Part 1!: Three TV Series Continuations of Movies: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2015/10/its-not-over-yet-three-tv-series.html
It'll be Great on TV Too, Part 2!: Four Disney Animated Television Series based on Animated Movies: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2015/10/itll-be-great-on-tv-too-part-2-four.html
Five PG-13 Movies with Animated Spin-Offs Aimed at Kids (It'll be Great on TV, Too, Part 3!): http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2017/11/five-pg-13-movies-with-animated-spin.html

Friday, November 24, 2017

Five PG-13 Movies with Animated Spin-Offs Aimed at Kids (It’ll be Great on TV Too, Part 3!)

                If there was ever a gray area in movies, it would be the PG-13 movie.  The PG-13 movie tries its best to appeal to all ages, while also trying to be just edgy enough (through violence, bathroom humor, sexual situations, etc.) to warrant the rating.  And then, after the movie is a success, do you know what some producers think?  This PG-13 movie would make a great animated television show, despite the fact the target audience would be “strongly cautioned” against seeing the original live-action movie!  Here are five PG-13 movies with animated television spin-offs aimed at kids.
                Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was one of Jim Carrey’s early successes.  In it, he plays a crazy pet detective who is tasked with finding the Miami Dolphin’s animal mascot.  The movie received the PG-13 rating for off-color humor and some nudity.  Ace Ventura was a huge early success, grossing over $107 million worldwide, and spawned a sequel: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  The other thing is spawned was an animated show appearing first on the CBS KIdshow block on Saturday mornings.  The Ace Ventura animated series featured Ace on different animal cases.  The show lasted three seasons and 39 episodes, 2 on CBS from 1995 to 1997, and later moved to Nickelodeon for one more season from 1999 to 2000.
                The Mask, another Jim Carrey vehicle, was about Carrey as a mild-mannered guy who puts on an ancient mask and becomes a zany, uninhibited cartoonish man.  Again, it was a huge success, grossing $341.6 million.  It was rated PG-13 for stylized violence.  Like Ace Ventura, the Mask made its way to CBS Kidshow, lasting 3 seasons and 54 episodes, from 1995 to 1997. 
                In 1998 a monster disaster movie called Godzilla (based on the Japanese movie monster) was released, and while not a hit with critics, nevertheless grossed $379 million worldwide.  It was rated PG-13 for sci-fi monster action/violence.  The animated television series premiered on FOX Kids and followed Godzilla, a hero this time, who imprinted on H.E.A.T. (Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team) leader Nick.  Godzilla, Nick and his crew team up together and fight supernatural monsters.  The TV series lasted for 2 seasons and 40 episodes from 1998 to 2000.
                Men in Black was the popular ($589.4 million) 1997 Sci-fi Comedy movie about two secret agents, Agent J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) in the Men in Black organization who watch over aliens who live on earth and hide their presence from humans.  It was rated PG-13 for language and sci-fi violence.  The animated television series premiered on Kids’ WB block and followed Agent J and K fighting and watching over aliens.  The show lasted for 4 seasons and 53 episodes, from 1997 to 2001.
                The Mummy was a 1999 movie following set in the 1920s and following Rick and Evie, whose interest in Ancient Egypt causes them to accidentally unleash the supernatural Mummy from beyond the Grave.  The Mummy Returns was a 2001 sequel which followed Rick, Evie, and their 11-year-old son Alex, who again accidentally awaken the Mummy.  The Mummy Returns was rated PG-13 for adventure action and violence and The Mummy was rated PG-13 for pervasive adventure violence and partial nudity.  The Mummy animated series premiered on Kids’ WB and followed Alex, Rick and Evy as they battle the Mummy from the first two movies.  The series lasted for two seasons, but was renamed The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai in the second season and followed Alex training to be a “Medjai.”  Altogether, the animated series lasted 2seasons and 26 episodes, from 2001 to 2003.
                The appeal of translating blockbuster movies into animated show means acknowledging that producers are trying to get children to watch television based on PG-13 movies, movies which they probably shouldn’t watch in the first place.  But the appeal of expanding an existing PG-13 property could not go unheeded, resulting in these TV shows. Here are five examples of such shows.

It'll be Great on TV Too, Part 1! Three TV Series Continuations of Movies:
It'll be Great on TV, Too, Part 2! Four Disney Animated Television Series Based On Animated Movies: http://thenovelee.blogspot.com/2015/10/itll-be-great-on-tv-too-part-2-four.html

Friday, November 17, 2017

Four Epic Miniseries that Received One or More Sequel Miniseries

The epic miniseries was a staple of television of the 1970s through the 1990s.  Telling a self-contained story through two or more episodes, the “miniseries” showcased a large cast of characters, many times through a significant historical time in history.  But the most successful miniseries were the rare ones that were given a sequel miniseries that sometimes, was just as impressive in scope and length as the first miniseries.  Here are four miniseries with a sequel miniseries. 
                Rich Man, Poor Man followed two German American brothers: a Rich Man, Rudy Jordache and his brother Tom Jordache from 1945 to 1965.  After being raised in poorer struggling life, Rudy becomes a successful entrepreneur and politician, building a corporate empire.  Tom, who was rebellious, becomes a boxer and never quite leaves the lower income life he was born into.  Meanwhile, Anthony Falconetti, a nemesis to the brothers, intends on killing them.  The series had twelve episodes which appeared every weeknight from February 1 to March 15 in 1976.  The miniseries was enough of a critical and TV ratings success to spawn the sequel series Rich Man, Poor Man Book II.  In Book II, Tom has died and Rudy is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.  Meanwhile, Tom’s son Wesley has a rivalry with Rudy’s stepson Billy, and Falconetti has been released from prison and vows to destroy the Jordache family once and for all.  The second miniseries ran for twenty-one episodes between September 21, 1976, and March 8, 1977, and was not as well received as the original miniseries.
                Probably the most famous miniseries of all time, Roots, by Alex Haley based his book of the same name, followed a group of slaves from capture in Africa during colonial times through their decedents in the Civil War.  Featuring a large cast, the series most notably introduced LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, a young slave who lived in the Gambia region in East Africa, who was captured by slave traders.  Following Kunta, who eventually stops trying to run away and marries Bell, a cook and has a daughter with her.  The daughter and her subsequent family live through early American history through the Civil War. One of the highest in the television ratings ever, the series ran for eight episodes from January 23 to January 30 in 1977.  A sequel series was made, called Roots: The Next Generations, and followed now freed former slave family through postwar era up through civil rights era of the 1960s.  The sequel miniseries ran for seven episodes from February 18 to February 24 in 1979 and is as well regarded as the original miniseries.  In 1988, a TV movie was made, set in 1775, with LeVar Burton reprising his role and Kunta.  Made from another of Alex Haley’s works, Alex Haley’s Queen is a sort-of sequel that was made in 1993 and follows the lives of biracial children from shortly before the Civil War through the early 20th century and ran for three episodes from February 14 to February 18 in 1993.
                The miniseries North and South followed two men’s friendship through Military Academy in the era before the Civil War.  Orry Main’s (Patrick Swayze) father was a rural planter who owned slaves in South Carolina, while George Hazard’s (James Read) family received their wealth through manufacturing in Pennsylvania.  The story begins in 1841 and continues through to 1861, the start of the Civil War, as the men grow apart.  North and South: Book I had six episodes and aired from November 3 to November 10, 1985.  North and South: Book II: Love and War followed Orry and George through the Civil War and their eventual reconciliation from 1861 to 1865, and aired from May 5 to May 12 in 1986.  Both were huge critical hits and scored high in the television ratings.  In 1994, Heaven and Hell: North and South Book III aired and followed Orry as he dealt with his friend’s death and the aftermath of the war.  Book III had three episodes from February 28 to March 3, 1994, and was not a hit critically or in the ratings as the first two miniseries.
                Lonesome Dove was a Western miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry that followed two former Texas Rangers, Gus (Robert Duvall) and Call (Tommy Lee Jones) who spearheaded a cattle drive to Montana along with other residents of the small Texas town they lived in.  The show followed them from their tiny town to their eventual stop in Montana.  The series had four parts, which aired from February 5 to February 8, 1989.  From there, things get interesting: Return to Lonesome Dove follows Call after the death of Gus spearheading a mustang drive to Montana.  This miniseries aired for four parts from November 14 to November 17 in 1993.  Following that miniseries, there was a syndicated television series (Lonesome Dove: The Series in season 1, and Lonesome Dove: the Outlaw Years in season 2) which aired from 1994 to 1996 and follows Call’s son Newt, on his own adventures in Curtis Wells, Montana.  However, the story in Return and the Series did not have McMurtry’s involvement, and the fans of the novel series and McMurty do not consider them canonical.  Larry McMurtry subsequently collaborated to make adaptations of his other novels in the Lonesome Dove series.  Larry McMurtry's Streets of Loredo was adapted in 1995, with three parts airing from November 12 – November 15, 1995, and focused on Call, now a bounty hunter, who asked to find Mexican bandit Joey Garza (it also specifically ignores the events of Return to Lonesome Dove).  Dead Man’s Walk was adapted in 1996, two parts airing on May 12 and 13, 1996, and is a prequel focused on when Gus and Call first joined the Texas Rangers.  And finally, Comanche Moon was adapted in 2008 and focused on Gus and Call during their later Texas Ranger years.  Comanche Moon aired in three parts from January 13 to January 16, 2008.  In all, there were five total miniseries set in the Lonesome Dove universe, along with a syndicated TV series.
              The original epic miniseries proved to be so popular they spawned a sequel series.  While some failed to live up to the original’s vision (such as Rich Man, Poor Man Book II), others matched their scope and storytelling (Roots: The Next Generations being a good example).  Check out these epic miniseries and their sequels.   

Friday, November 10, 2017

Will Disney Corporate Policies Hurt The Last Jedi?

On November 1, 2017, the Wall Street Journal posted an article reporting how Disney expects to keep 65% of the profit from The Last Jedi and keep it on their best theater for four weeks ([1]).  While big theater chains with multiple screens can probably handle it, the small chains with one or two screens are not happy.  Forbes followed up a day later with an analysis piece explaining why the theaters are doing it: ([2]): for all the big movie franchises, the Star Wars movies still play best in the United States 45% to 50% of the total gross of the movie, as opposed to 35% to 40% for many major movie franchises.  Disney did a similar thing for the Force Awakens; however, it was 64% and two weeks.  But doubling the weeks, especially for small movie theaters, monopolizes that particular theater from showing anything else – for an entire month.  And new for The Last Jedi, if the theater doesn’t agree to the deal, Disney will take an additional 5%. 
                And then there’s the L.A. Times series of articles (the first one is here: 
[3]) detailing how Disney has successfully lobbied (in the past) to get deals from the government which benefit them quite a bit in various ways (for example a new parking deck was built by the City of Anaheim built a New Parking Deck for $108.2 million, and leases it to Disney for $1 –that’s right, one dollar) and that Disney has spent money on political action committees which support candidates on their side of the issue.  Disney responded that the article was “biased and inaccurate” with a “political agenda.” ([4])  But then Disney decided to take action: the L.A. Times reviewer was “not” invited to the new Disney owned Thor movie.  When news of this came out, other large reviewers took notice.  A movie reviewer for The Washington Post followed that she will not attend advance screenings until Disney reverses barring the L.A. Times reviewers ([5]).  This was followed by the entire A.V. Club also telling readers they will not attend any Disney advance press screenings ([6]).  And now, the Chicago Tribune’s reviewer put out a piece detailing how four prominent critic’s associations1 co-signed a letter of protest against Disney ([7]).  Soon after, Disney recanted and dropped its ban on the L.A. Times, claiming that they had “productive discussions” with the “New Leadership” ([8]). 
                Full disclosure: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the only movie I want to see in theaters this winter break.  No other movie even comes close.  However, corporate Disney’s actions trouble me.  Regardless of the article’s veracity, the fact that Disney chose to “punish” the L.A. times has resulted in a domino effect within the critic community.  With Disney’s actions in regard to dismissing the critic, I would also argue that the investigative journalists who published the article and the critic are in two totally different departments and have two totally different agendas.  Many critics feel that Disney barring any critic, regardless of what their paper is saying about the company, is wrong and sets a dangerous precedent, and thus wouldn’t attend the advance Press screenings until the ban is lifted.  Now that the ban is over, I’m sure Disney is hoping that this is old news by next week.  But nevertheless, if Disney had continued, the damage would be felt by all Disney films, including the Last Jedi.
                But while the critic ban on Disney press screenings may be old news by the time The Last Jedi comes out, the theater demands will not.  And The Force Awakens had a similar policy in regards to Star Wars theater profits, why are many people raising a fuss now?  Nevertheless, when Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres, will small cities with independent theaters not show the movie?  If that is the case, Corporate Disney’s demand may hurt its bottom line and result in lower numbers.  While I love the stories that Disney and its subsidiaries make, and can’t help but be concerned about the actions Disney corporate has been taking recently.  It does not give me a good feeling. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Love and Heartbreak Story told by Weird Al songs

Today’s post is different from my usual fare.  I’ve wanted for some time to compile all of Weird Al’s love and breakup songs into one playlist.  But recently I had the idea: what if all of them told the story of one man, named Al who experienced the worst relationship ever?  Well, read below A Love and Heartbreak story told by “Weird Al” Yankovic songs:

Songwriter Al was moseying through his lonely existence when on a Tuesday morning bus ride he spies Bridget and is immediately enamored.  Al imagines an entire life together with her on the “Jackson Park Express.”  She gets off the bus, and Al is sure he would never see her again and only writes the song in memory of her.  But the following Tuesday morning, he does see her again!  Sure he won’t miss another chance to see her again, he begins stalking her without speaking to her, worrying to himself, “Do I Creep You Out?”  Finally, Bridget has had enough and demands to know why he’s following her and doing all that crazy stuff to her.  Al responds by writing a song which uses EVERY SINGLE LAME PICK-UP LINE ever invented (“Wanna B Ur Lovr”).  While Bridget is slightly put off by his behavior, she is touched by his sweetness and agrees to date him.
                After dating a while, Al pens an ode to their relationship, the slightly insulting “If That Isn’t Love,” forgiving his girlfriend for the annoying things that she does to him (and he does to her).  But after a while, the annoying things that Bridget does finally get to him, and he writes “I’m So Sick of You,” but after determining the song to be too mean, saves it on his computer and writes the only slightly nicer “Confessions Part III.”  However, Bridget still finds Al’s “confessions” hurtful and wonders if he wrote any other songs about her (Al also has to reassure him that it was only Usher who cheated on his girlfriend and had a kid with that woman, not Al himself).  After Bridget finds “I’m So Sick of You,” she becomes enraged, and then devious, deciding to get back at Al increasingly violent ways, causing him to think and wonder, “You Don’t Love Me Anymore.”  Then she does the worst thing of all: she breaks up with him and tells him she found someone else.
                Despondent, Al writes “One More Minute,” detailing how anything would be worse than another minute with Bridget.  But then he really starts to miss Bridget, writing that “Since You’ve Been Gone,” any number of horrible situations is better than not being with her – but even so, it wasn’t as bad as when Bridget was still there.  Al finally puts his violent, annoying ex-girlfriend Bridget behind him, and swears off love, thinking he could never find someone right for him.
                That is, until the very next day when he takes a flight to New Jersey and sees the flight attendant Amy and immediately writes “Airline Amy” in honor of her…

                I hope you enjoyed my little story!  Special thanks to “Weird Al” Yankovic, without which this story wouldn’t have been possible.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Three TV Shows Which Started with three or More TV movies

                Today, the major networks have done away for the most part with Television movies.  However, when TV movies were more popular, it’s very possible that a television movie preceded the actual beginning of the TV series.  In some cases, however, a total of three or more TV movies aired before the series even started.  Here are three TV shows that had three or more TV movies before TV show even started.
                Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a syndicated TV series that ran for six seasons from 1995 to 1999.  Starring Kevin Sorbo as Hercules, the tongue-in-cheek action comedy series never took itself too seriously.  While the series itself still tend to be fairly popular, the preceding five television movies are not as well known (and harder to find).  In 1994, Universal Studios launched a two hour syndicated programming block called “Action Pack” and used it to show television movies and TV series under the title.  One of the first was the TV movies about Hercules.  The first premiered on April 25, 1994, and was called Hercules and the Amazon Women.  The plot: Hercules and his friend Iolaus discover that the “mysterious creatures” that they are trying to defeat are actually women who have left their men and instead have joined the Greek god Hera.  The second premiered on May 2, 1994, and was called Hercules and the Lost Kingdom.  In this story, Hercules agrees to help a young woman travel to Troy, where he becomes involved in a refugee attempt to take back the city from Hera’s blue priests.  The third called Hercules and the Circle of Fire, premiered on October 31, 1994.  This one was about Hercules and Deianeria traveling the world looking for fire, as the world freezes to death.  The fourth, called Hercules in the Underworld, premiered on November 7, 1994, and detailed Hercules more dangerous journey yet: he must travel to the Underworld and Hades to rescue some villagers who have fallen through a crack into said underworld.  Finally, on November 14, 1994, Hercules had his last television movie, called Hercules and the Maze of the Minotaur: Hercules has settled down with his family, but is called to action to rid of a Minotaur that is terrorizing the village (this one also featured some clips from the previous four movies).  In all, there were five television movies that preceded the Television series.
                Diagnosis: Murder was a long-running CBS show (eight seasons, from 1993-2001) starring Dick Van Dyke and his son, Barry Van Dyke.  The idea of Dick Van Dyke as murder-solving Doctor Mark Sloan originally appeared as a backdoor pilot as part of the series Jake and the Fatman (in a Season 4 episode entitled “It Never Entered My Mind).  But before the idea became a television series, Dick Van Dyke appeared in a series of television movies.  The first movie, Diagnosis of Murder, premiered on January 5, 1992, and followed Dr. Sloan as he investigates the evidence when his good friend (played by Bill Bixby) is accused of murdering his boss.  The second premiered on May 1, 1992, under the title The House on Sycamore Street.  In this movie, Dr. Sloan investigates a former student of his who seemingly committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the house.  The third movie, which premiered on February 13, 1993, was called A Twist of the Knife, and featured Suzanne Pleshette, as an old girlfriend of Mark’s, who may or may not have killed a U.S. Senator.  In all, there were three television movies that preceded the television series.
                The Love Boat ran for nine seasons from 1978 to 1986 and featured the crew of the cruise ship and their passengers.  Unlike other TV series at the time, the show featured three disconnected stories, each with their own characters, as they navigated love on the high seas.  Jeraldine Saunders, a former cruise director, wrote in 1974 a “true-life” book called Love Boats, about people who found love while on a cruise ship.  That idea was turned into a series of television movies, the first of which was called The Love Boat, which premiered on September 17, 1976.  Filmed aboard the Sun Princess, and featuring a large cast, the TV movie established the concept to three or more separate stories on the same ship.  The second TV movie, called The Love Boat II, premiered on January 21, 1977, and switched to the Pacific Princess and found three of the actors who later reprised their role in the television series (Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, and Fred Grandy, who played Dr. O’Neill, Isaac the bartender and Gopher the purser, respectively).  The third television movie called The New Love Boat premiered on May 5, 1977.  The subtitle for The New Love Boat established the three titles that were used for each episode instead of one title like most series: The Newlyweds/The Exchange/Cleo’s First Voyage.  This one featured the first appearance of Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing and Lauren Tewes as Cruise Director Julie McCoy.  In all, there were three television movies that preceded television series.

                Over time, the TV movies which established these TV show have faded from prominence.  While they might be known to hard-core fans, for the casual viewer, these television movies are unknown.  Check out these TV movies which started these famous TV series.