It is unusual to see a faithful adaptation of one of your favorite books. The director and the producers get involved and they always want to “improve” it in some way that makes you hate the movie. The fact of the matter is that pulp or genre fiction usually adapts well. The types of directors and actors drawn to it just like to tell a good story. They are not all up in their artsy fartsy heads about it.
Two of the best book to screen adaptions that I have seen came from the works of one of my favorite authors and role models Elmore Leonard. “Get Shorty” was an almost perfect rendition of his novel. Of course “Justified” was a sublime manifestation of his Raylan Givens stories. Elmore Leonard and his son worked very closely with the production and actually wrote several episodes. In fact one of his last books contained a couple of stories about Marshal Givens that actually used new characters that originated from the TV series. That is quite unusual. You know. That TV writers influence the author of the original work. Talent will out.
I was very disappointed in the various video interpretation of Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” novels. The original TV series with Robert Ulrich was a good effort but really missed the boat. The various TV movies really sucked. Joe Mantegna is not any reasonable embodiment of the protagonist in those novels.
The series of Jesse Stone movies with Tom Selleck were excellent if a little dreary. I think they thought film noir means depressed or something. Still it was a worthy effort and they should get kudos. It is the only filming of Parkers work that is worth a shit.
I think one of my biggest disappointment is the way they “butchered” Jim Butcher’s great series about Harry Dresden. The Sci-Fi channel commission a series and they just destroyed it. What a shame. They had great source material. A whole series of novels that everything. Wizards. Demons. Ghosts. Vampires. Monsters. Werewolves. Faires. Trolls. You name it if it was magical it is in these excellent science fiction tomes. They just couldn’t follow through. What a missed opportunity.
Finally there is a series that I would love to see get a full blown TV adaptation. That is the great David Drake RCN series about Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy. In fact if you want a science fiction series to start I would recommend this in the highest terms. This would make a great basis for a slamming TV series. The CGI would let them do most of the great stunts and situations and would be just terrific. This is an example of where pulp or genre is far superior to tight ass literary pretentious bullshit. Supposedly this series was based on Patrick O’Brien’s very overrated Aubrey/Maturin naval novels. Now I know that those books are praised to the sky. But you know what? They aren’t all that great. At least in my opinion. If you want to read great pulp fiction about the Napoleonic Wars and the British Navy you should read Douglas Reeman’s books that he published under the name Alexander Kent. The Bolitho series is far superior to O’Brien’s wordy clap trap. I think O’Brien is praised so much because it is respectable for the intelligentsia to read him instead of Kent or CS Forester or are superior in plot and dialogue. At least that is what I think. In the same was they would admit to reading Lovecraft or Poe but claim that they never read Stephen King or Peter Straub. It is elitism plain and simple.
Currently I am knee deep in Vox Day’s series “Arts of Dark and Light.” The first book in the series "A Sea of Skulls” is really, really good and if you enjoyed “Game of Thrones” I would totally recommend it. It sort of has a mixture of ancient Roman and Anglo Saxon History that makes it very engrossing. I am zipping through it in record time. It would make a great TV series but it will never be done. Vox Day is politically radioactive and no Hollywood studio would ever touch it. Unless Steve Bannon leaves government and goes back to entertainment. So it will remain in the written word. As do many of my favorites. Still we can always hope. With the advent of live streaming services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflicks making their own series and their need for content you never know what you might get to see.
Now back to Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch Season Three on Amazon Video. I am up to episode Five and it is getting good.