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Oct. 26, 2020

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Beyond ‘Cobra Kai’: 10 hit shows based on movies

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What would Mr. Miyagi think?

“Cobra Kai,” a sitcom based on “The Karate Kid” franchise, made the jump from YouTube’s pay streaming service (YouTube Premium) to Netflix on Aug. 28. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their respective roles as titular karate kid Daniel LaRusso and bully Johnny Lawrence. As adults, the roles have reversed, with Johnny reopening the old dojo to give a new group of outcasts self-confidence, while Daniel has become something of an arrogant success.

With a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes for the first two seasons, it’s likely there will be more to come. (Netflix has announced a third season set to debut next year but has not given a specific date.) After getting a karate fix, here are 10 other hit shows based on movies to check out.

• ‘The Odd Couple’ (1970-1975): Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, the mismatched roommates from Neil Simon’s play-turned-1968-box-office-smash, were too funny to leave on the silver screen. Within two years, the comedy duo was on the air, with Tony Randall replacing Jack Lemmon as the fastidious Felix and Jack Klugman taking over for Walter Matthau in the role of slovenly grouch Oscar. Both of the TV actors had performed in different productions of the play. The show made it 114 episodes over five seasons, earning three nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series from the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Watch it on CBS All Access or Hulu.

• ‘MASH’ (1972-1983): Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Trapper John and most of the other favorites from this hit TV series began life first in the novel by Richard Hooker and then in Robert Altman’s Best Picture nominee for 1970. The story of a medical unit during the Korean War provided an unexpected amount of laughs and more than a few tears over its 11 seasons. The final episode remains the most-watched series finale of all time. People loved it so much, it earned two spinoffs: “AfterMASH” and “Trapper John, M.D.”

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

• ‘Alice’ (1976-1985): A widowed single mother with dreams of being a singer winds up working at a greasy spoon diner after her car breaks down. That might not sound like a recipe for hilarity, but that premise made for a Martin Scorsese-directed, Oscar-winning movie (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”), followed by a CBS sitcom. “Alice” featured Linda Lavin in the title role and a host of memorable characters, including Polly Holliday’s Flo, who earned her own self-titled spinoff.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

• ‘Highlander: The Series’ (1992-1998): The 1986 sci-fi fantasy film “Highlander” introduced the line, “There can be only one,” referring to the strange race of immortal people who are drawn to decapitating each other. Ignoring the idea in the second movie that they’re all aliens, “Highlander: The Series” continued the mystery with British hunk Adrian Paul becoming Duncan McCloud, a Highlander who works to help people in need (and to decapitate people).

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or YouTube.

• ‘Clueless’ (1996-1999): Based on the 1995 teen comedy based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel “Emma,” the sitcom “Clueless” returned fans to the shallow but mostly sweet world of wealthy high school student Cher, with Rachel Blanchard replacing Alicia Silverstone from the movie. The show made it three seasons, which is decent for a series based on high school students, and had crossovers with “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Moesha.”

Watch it on YouTube.

• ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (1997-2003): The fact that Joss Whedon’s 1992 supernatural comedy garnered the positive reviews it did was already something of a minor miracle given its off-beat premise (a popular valley girl is the next in line as prophesied demon killer). But the fact that it also spawned seven seasons, 144 episodes and dedicated fan conventions to this day is nothing short of a conceptual coup. The show, one of the WB network’s first major hits, is perhaps actress Sarah Michelle Gellar’s best-known role and was the launching point for “The Avengers” director Whedon’s big-budget career.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

• ‘La Femme Nikita’ (1997-2001): First, there was Luc Besson’s 1990 French thriller. Then came the 1993 American remake, “Point of No Return” with Bridget Fonda. But for the Canadian action show, the networks went back to the original title, with actress Peta Wilson in the title role of a spy in a clandestine organization. The series aired on the USA Network for five seasons, with its first two being the highest-rated show on basic cable at the time.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or YouTube.

• ‘Stargate SG-1’ (1997-2007): 1997 was a busy year for turning sci-fi blends of action and comedy into movies. Based on the 1994 Roland Emmerich spectacle, the series continued to build its universe around the scientists and military personnel who make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization through a wormhole. The show launched a second series, “Stargate: Atlantis,” and made for an exciting second act for post-MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson. Showtime carried “SG-1” for its first five seasons before it jumped to Sci-Fi (now Syfy) for its last five.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

• ‘Friday Night Lights’ (2006-2011): Apparently, high school football is really important in Texas. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton led the cast in this drama based on a 2004 movie based on a 1990 book about the residents of a small town and their live-or-die football games. The NBC series won a Peabody Award, an Emmy and an NAACP Image Award among others, but it never enjoyed blockbuster ratings.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, NBC’s website or Peacock.

• ‘Parenthood’ (2010-2015): The first attempt to adapt the 1989 comedy into a TV show was in 1990. It was canceled after 12 episodes and featured then-unknown stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Thora Birch, David Arquette and, in the writer’s room, Joss Whedon. Coming off his success with “Friday Night Lights,” producer Brian Grazer teamed up with Ron Howard in 2010 to try again, this time making it an hour-long drama on NBC. The new formula was significantly more successful, with stars Lauren Graham and Dax Shepherd anchoring the acclaimed show for six seasons.

Watch it on Hulu or Peacock.

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