Saturday, July 17, 2010

10 Books that Inspired TV Shows

Now over the years, several book series have been adapted into major motion pictures. We have the YA phenomenons Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga to action packed novels like the Jason Bourne series. However, many authors - such as Anne Rice with her Vampire Chronicles - have expressed that their novels are more suited for television, as in a series or miniseries. Many times, these are flops themselves - it all depends on the storyline and where the writers/directors/producers take it. While many shows bite the dust, their novels continue on.

  1. The Stand by Stephen King - I think it's best if I start here. Stephen King's career has led him to several miniseries spots on television. The Stand just happens to be one of my favorites - despite its cheese level. Amongst this four part miniseries lie The Langoliers (based on a short story from Four Past Midnight), The Tommyknockers, Nightmares and Dreamscapes (based on the collection of short stories), and It (based on the novel of the same).
  2. Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer - If it weren't for the series, I'm sure I would never had read the novel, let alone heard of it. While the show merely takes the idea from the novel - the only character that remains the same is Lloyd Simcoe - and recreates its world, many of the same themes remain true to its prose counterpart. It was just depressing to learn that the show was axed by ABC after only one season. 
  3. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay - He's a serial killer to fall in love with; Dexter won my heart the moment I sat down and watched the first season, which is loosely based on the first novel in the series. Unlike other shows, the series doesn't follow suit with the books that follow. Instead, seasons two, three and four strayed from Lindsay's series, which is probably for the best.
  4. The Sookie Stackhouse Books a.k.a. The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris - Unlike Dexter, True Blood makes an attempt to follow its book series counterpart. Each subsequent season is loosely based on the novel that follows in the series - season one based on Dead Until Dark, season two loosely based on Dead in Dallas and season three loosely following the events of Club Dead, etc.
  5. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar - I'm not sure why I decided to add this to the list. I have no interest in reading the books or watching the show. Nevertheless, it was a book series before it ever was a television series. It is in my understanding that the television series used that of the book as a stepping stone. 
  6. The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith - Sometimes viewed as a rip off of both True Blood and the Twilight Saga, the Vampire Diaries is a thorn on the television schedule. I'm not sure if the television series uses the books as a stepping stone, or if each season is loosely based off them. 
  7. Rizzoli & Isles Series by Tess Gerritsen - Even though the Rizzoli series starts with The Surgeon, I'm assuming that the show doesn't pick up until The Apprentice, as it introduces Isles to Rizzoli. While the series just started this week, I'm determined to read The Apprentice before going into it.
  8. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (story), Tony Moore (art) and Charlie Adlard (art) - While I never read the graphic novels, my only fear that the show based on them won't become redundant. I learned that an television adaptation was being requested by AMC in 2009. In January of this year, a pilot was ordered by the television network, which began filming in May set to be release in October. I suppose we'll have to wait and see this one through.
  9. "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard - The short story, found in the collection entitled When the Women Come Out to Dance, was later used as the basis for the FX series, Justified. The series, which follows character Raylan Givens (portrayed by Timothy Olyphant) as he moves back to his rural hometown after shooting a fugitive. Raylan Givens also appears in Leonard's novels, Pronto and Riding the Rap.
  10. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - For a Syfy (formally SciFi) Original, I'm surprised the show lasted as long as it did. Because I've never read the novels, I cannot compare it to the show. To be honest, I've never seen the show either. Because it never reached passed the first season, I have to conclude that the outcry of a poor adaptation was at fault. I guess I'll never know.

While I'm sure there are oodles more to be listed, these are the ten novels - series and stand alone - that were adapted for the small screen. There are times, however, when a television series gains so much ground that a book, or book series, is inspired. Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspired both novels and graphic novels in its wake. The British teen drama Skins also has a novel under its belt. Meanwhile, shows like Californication spawn novels of their own based on fictional novels within the show.

All in all, some books are granted life on both big and small screens. Whether or not they do well merely depends on the fan view of the adaptation. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

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