Random musing on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Besides Agents of SHIELD, have there been any other TV spinoffs of genre films that both a) are fully in continuity with their parent movie(s) and b) don’t recast recurring roles?  Admittedly the Avengers film project is itself unusual, and it helps that the only recurring character is Agent Coulson–we’re not going to see Samuel L. Jackson every week, or even Cobie Smulders.  Still, let’s see if there are any other examples out there. (I’m not including children’s cartoons that clearly weren’t meant to be like the film–Teen Wolf wasn’t going to make it unchanged to Saturday mornings, let alone Robocop.  Although I am pleased to report that the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes cartoon did keep John Astin as Dr. Gangreen.)

Same or similar continuity, different cast:

  • Planet of the Apes: The TV show was set hundreds of years before the first movie but seems to have been intended to be in the same continuity.  Due to the time period recasting didn’t come up, but it did include Roddy McDowell in the cast.
  • Star Trek: Not applicable, because there’s no case of a TV series spinning out of a movie–the TV shows are clearly steering the ship here.  Pre-reboot, the movies are in continuity and carry over cast from the TV shows, however.
  • Star Wars: The Holiday Special kept the movie cast but is only very loosely in continuity.  The Clone Wars series are in continuity–Revenge of the Sith picks up directly from the end of the first series–but the only major cast member who carries over is Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.
  • Stargate: The SG-1 series picks up the concept from the first movie; my researches show that there isn’t a clear-cut, overarching Stargate continuity.  In any event, the recurring roles from the movie were recast. (As an aside, I had no idea Corin Nemec was on that show–he completely dropped off my radar after Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The movie is in quasi-continuity with the TV series: events similar to the movie are referenced as the reason Buffy moved to Sunnydale, but details of the world change between versions and the roles were recast.  (Dark Horse later published a comics adaptation of Joss Whedon’s original outline of the movie, reworked to fit TV continuity.)
  • Robocop: I’m not sure if this was meant to be in continuity with the films or not; my guess would be that at least the first film is in continuity with the series but not vice versa.  Either way, the title role was recast.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was recast (John Connor had already been played by four different actors by that point) and is set in a divergent timeline.
  • Alien Nation: The movie was more of a jumping-off point for this one; the TV series keeps the basic premise, and I’m not sure if the events of the movie were meant to be in the backstory of the TV show, but there were tweaks to details such as the main characters’ families.  The main characters were recast.
  • Blade, The Crow: The TV series follows from the movies but was recast.
  • Starman (thanks to Wikipedia for reminding me of the existence of this one): The series is a sequel to the movie but is set 15 years later and doesn’t feature the same cast.
  • Timecop: They made a series of this?  Really?  I have no idea of how it stands vis-a-vis continuity (the Wiki article is pretty bare-bones) but it doesn’t have the same cast.

Divergent continuity, same cast (unsurprisingly, this one is a lot less common)

  • Highlander: As an interesting reversal from the trend, Christopher Lambert reprised his film role in the TV pilot, but the continuity is different.  The TV show carries over the film contents, but while the first movie shows only a few immortals left and the end of the Game, the series has many more immortals and they’re not nearly as focused on killing each other.

Same continuity, same cast

  • There is one non-SHIELD example of this!  Of all things, it’s Tremors, in which the character of Burt Gummer is played in the first three movies and the TV show by Michael Gross.  We have a winner!

A couple of other random thoughts:

  • I was pleased with myself for identifying Iain De Caestecker‘s accent as Glaswegian.  I can’t identify any other Scottish accents in any detail, but I can recognize this one thanks to Bill Paterson as Arcturan Number One in episode 7 of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series.
  • I was amused in tonights episode by May pooh-poohing the idea of ESP, given that she lives in a superhero universe (and Skye did call her on it later).  Granted the X-Men movies aren’t established to be in the same setting, but it’s still an example of what I refer to as Mythos Creep.  This is what happens when a series has a broad enough range of what’s established as possible that you can’t categorically rule anything out on the basis of “well, that wouldn’t fit”.  The classic example is the X-Files, which made a point of leaving these questions as open as possible. (“Well it isn’t vampires.  Because they don’t exist.”) Another series that got hit by this is Babylon 5: when someone showed up claiming to be the reincarnation of King Arthur, given that reincarnation was established in the series and Jack the Ripper had shown up, the audience couldn’t say for sure that he wasn’t right. (Marcus lampshaded this one at the end of the episode.) The Marvel cinematic universe hasn’t hit that point yet in terms of what we’ve seen on-screen, but it still carries the expectations of the comics universe with it.

JSA All-Stars had a story that had this problem with the DC universe: Dr. Mid-nite refused to believe the evidence that he was up against vampires because, well, see the X-Files quote above.  While I respect the principle of not leaving one’s mind so open that it leaks out the ears, c’mon, dude’s seen a lot of stuff that’s no less sensible than the idea of vampires. (This was handled better with Mr. Terrific and the Spectre.  Terrific didn’t deny that the Spectre could do the things he did, he just didn’t take it as proof of the divine.)

On a related note, you have to feel sorry for evolutionary biologists in the Marvel Universe.  Unlike the real world, it’s demonstrable that human evolution has a set direction and that humans are the product of intelligent design in the form of the Celestials, and evolution is a force that can be harnessed and, for all I know, bottled.  Not to mention all the aliens who have visited Earth in the past.  How do you draw a clear line between natural selection and “a wizard did it” under those circumstances?

Until next time, the Woggle-bug says, “So be it!  We’ll fight together, or separately if need be!”

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