Adapting a comedy motion picture for the small screen is a common occurrence today even though the execution remains very much a hit or miss opportunity. What you may not know is that attempts to shrink the magic caught on the big screen down to a small screen size traces back to the earliest days of television. You may also be surprised to find that some classic screen comedies failed as sitcoms.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Those who thought it unlikely to the extreme that failed TV show mainstay Monte Markham could have replaced Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds would probably have been horrified to peer into the future and see that one day Adam Sandler would play the role. "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" but only between the fall of 1969 and very early into 1970. The magic of Mr. Deeds could not be translated to the small screen.
The Thin Man
Among the roughly 586 projects that Johnny Depp has on his bucket list is a remake of "The Thin Man" which kicked off a very popular series of comedy mystery movies starring William Powell. That lead character is far more urbane and hoity toity than the type of offbeat character usually played by Depp, but was a perfect fit for Peter Lawford in the late 1950s. Well, maybe not quite perfect. Lawford's Nick managed to solve crimes alongside Phyllis Kirk's Nora for two years before saying closing the door on their penthouse apartment for good.
No Time for Sergeants
You might think that "No Time for Sergeants" may have been tried out as a sitcom that failed to capture the lightning that turned the movie comedy version into the vehicle that made a star out of Andy Griffith. Could Griffith not do on TV what he'd done on the big screen? Well, considering that the sitcom version of the big screen comedy hit aired smack during the middle of the long run of Griffith's tenure as the sheriff of Mayberry, obviously not. "No Time for Sergeants" unwisely went on the air with Sammy Jackson playing the part Griffith originated. The material failed to provide him the same boost as Andy Griffith.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Seriously, who thought this could possibly be a good idea? "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" had been a document of the 1960s sexual revolution that became as dated as other such entities. The four years between movie and sitcom would be the difference between the 1980s and today in cultural terms. The show lasted barely two months and exists now mainly as the answer to the trivia question of which was the first of the roughly 70 different failed TV shows did Robert Urich star in during his career.