“CHiPS” is back, and moviegoers may soon regret it.
Dax Shepard and Michael Pena bring the ’70s motorcycle cop show to theaters this weekend. The reviews so far aren’t good. The box office, according to early sentiment gathered by Fandango.com, could be worse.
That doesn’t mean other ’70s-era shows shouldn’t get their big-screen closeup. Occasionally, Hollywood gets the TV-to-movies transition right. Case in point: “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “The Addams Family.”
So, in that benevolent spirit, here are five ’70s TV shows that should find their way to the big screen.
Yes, this classic sitcom ran into the ’80s (1978-1983), but there’s a very good reason to bring it back to life. Two, in fact.
Uber and Lyft.
The changing face of public transportation is a great way to enter the “Taxi” landscape anew. It’s a workplace comedy at its core, but the Uber Generation gives the story a vibrancy it might lack otherwise. Plus, what actor wouldn’t want to update Louie De Palma, played so memorably by Danny DeVito?
2. “The Love Boat”
This adaptation might be too obvious. You take the original show’s template and you update it with the modern sexual mores. Gender fluidity. Same-sex marriage. Friends with benefits.
No, no, no.
That would be too obvious. Why not replicate the show’s ’70s tone for modern audiences? That would be funny, and it would showcase how culture has evolved in a mere 35-plus years. That approach clicked for “The Brady Bunch Movie.” This film reboot would be even more dramatic given our sexually aggressive society.
3. “WKRP in Cincinnati”
Thank you, Podcast Nation. Once again, modern headlines run directly into a classic sitcom scenario. Not only could “WKRP: The Movie” look at the inner workings of a radio station. It also might highlight the pressures faced from podcast competition, apps, and other modern fixations.
Factor in PC police codes, changing tastes in rock music, and business pressures and you’ve got a whole franchise full of inspiration.
Now, just try casting Johnny Fever. It’s not easy, is it?
4. “Barney Miller”
Today’s audiences deserve to hear one of the best TV theme songs again.
Beyond that, the modern police force is rife with comedic possibilities. YouTube arrests that go viral. Dealing with suspects who have an outsized sense of entitlement. Even something as serious as the Black Lives Matter movement could be handled comedically with the right approach.
Besides, it would be good to see cops as the good guys again. Crusty, cynical and bitter, but ultimately good.
5. “What’s Happening!!”
No one can replace Fred “Rerun” Berry. But isn’t it time we had a wholesome look at a black extended family on the big screen?
The original show offered gentle humor and a life lesson or two along the way. Frankly, there’s little like that in cinemas now. It’s all about edge, and grit, and superheroes.
“What’s Happening!!” was rarely woke. The storytelling came first. And you didn’t have to share the cast’s skin color to appreciate the struggles and victories each week. Wouldn’t that offer a semblance of healing at a time when every story has to represent a modern struggle?