Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Might've Been: Ferris Bueller (1990)

Sometimes, if you wait too long before adapting a movie to television, something gets lost in the transition.

Case in point--Ferris Bueller. 4 years after the late John Hughes crafted a high school comedy that became a cult classic, Paramount brought Ferris back, this time on TV, and thought that riding on the coat-tails of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be enough to get by. Nope. Fox had jumped the gun and introduced a similarly themed series, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, which anchored its network's Sunday lineup for 3 seasons.

Charlie Schlatter was cast as Ferris, and in the pilot, made a statement that ultimately doomed the series by cutting the head of a Matthew Broderick cardboard cut-out (Broderick played Bueller in the movie) with a chainsaw while in the midst of a 4th wall breaking monologue. The whirring of the saw gets the attention of Ferris' sister, Jeanne (Jennifer Aniston, 4 years before Friends). The producers goofed by flipping the grades for the sibs, moving Jeanne to senior while Ferris was a junior (it was the other way around in the movie). The monologue takes too long, and it's enough to make the viewer turn away. A lot of them did, and Ferris was cancelled in December, with one last episode brought out one year after the show's launch.

Schlatter would later resurface on Diagnosis Murder, replacing Scott Baio. Who'dathunk that'd ever happen? Anyway, Jennifer Aniston was one of two, maybe three, second generation actors on the show. Not sure if Charlie's related to Laugh-In's George Schlatter, but Ferris' gal, Sloan, was played by Ami Dolenz, daughter of Micky Dolenz (The Monkees). Jennifer's dad, John, appeared on Days of Our Lives.

Right now, check out the pilot:

NBC already had a sitcom where a male lead broke the 4th wall, and it was on Saturday mornings. Saved By The Bell. And, unfortunately, from where I sit, Bell was a much better show.

Rating: D.


magicdog said...

It definitely lost something in the transition to TV, although even the film isn't as cute as it was when I first watched it. In fact, when discussing the film on another forum, other posters said the same - and think of Ferris as a little jerk who deserved a beatdown! Funny what adulthood does to one's outlook!

I always liked Ami Dolenz (a given since I'm a Monkees fan) although she seemed to drop out of sight by 1990 or so. I remember she was on GH as a girl with a drug problem and on the big screen was beginning to have a career as the main female lead's best friend. Plus, there's "Witchboard".

Parker Lewis was a better show (although there was a point in the latter seasons of that show in which Parker's ability to avoid losing was removed!) and even poked Ferris in the eye in its first season finale. As the Parker Lewis show wraps for the season, the camera pulls back to reveal the stage on which all the action occurred. As the camera pulls back further, you see the empty studio audience area in which two people are seated watching the show - seen only in shadow. One says to the other, "So THAT'S how you do it!" The other person says, "Come On Ferris, let's go home.".

hobbyfan said...

Ouch. Cheap shot to a fallen victim.