Bookish Topic Tuesday
Book to TV
I do apologise firstly for the lack of these posts for the last few months, didn’t quite get organised as I thought I might, and these will probably be infrequent into the future as well.
Inspired by GoT (Game of Thrones for those outside the loop) I thought I would discuss TV today and those books which have graced the small screen. Of course the screens aren’t that small any more, and I think that TV is having a renaissance. Well, I’m not sure about actual viewing of TV, but TV programs have certainly become more popular, GoT is case in point, along with the likes of Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead etc. Three out of four of those I just listed are based on a book of some sort, and I think that book to TV has started being more commonplace. And I’m happy with that. I’ve discussed Book to Film previously.
I did a quick search of wikipedia and found that in the category of TV based on books there were around 600 shows (or TV movies) listed, compared to a whopping 4,000 in the category of film based on books. Of course this might not be the best and most definitive source, and doesn’t highlight any trend, but it goes to show that it is far more common for a book to turn into a movie compared to a TV show. And even of the 600 shows, there were a large number of TV movies, and not that many series (more likely to be mini-series). But I do think that more and more TV shows are being based on novels, and this list of 23 shows for 2014 based on books, provides some evidence for that.
A TV show can do a book a lot more justice than a movie. A TV show can easily exceed even the longest blockbuster, and get upwards of 10 hours of TV on a single book. That means there is a lot less that needs to be cut. Of course, it also paves the way for a lot of stuff to get added in, and potential for the show to be dragged out considerably, perhaps more than necessary (The Walking Dead may be a case in point). Certainly just because there is more time does not mean greater accuracy in the adaptation. While, GoT (at least for season 1) remained quite faithful, The Walking Dead certainly didn’t do the same.
I think for a series of books especially, a TV series works quite well because it allows for the complexities to be drawn out, and ensures that they don’t have to cut a lot of material like they would to squeeze out a 2 hour movie. I also think that with TV we get to stay with the characters for longer and get to know them, so we develop stronger emotional connections with them. Which is why I think people have moved back to TV, and why books make good TV.
I’ve heard quite a few of my friends express concerns that GoT the TV show is going to overtake the book series since GRRM hasn’t finished the series, the same concern can be said of The Walking Dead which is an ongoing graphic novel series. I think there is legitimate concern about that, but my feeling is that usually the writers of the books communicate with the writers of the show to ensure that they know where the series is going. Often they probably know some details about the end, and I think of JK Rowling telling Alan Rickman that Snape loved Lily early in the filming so he could get the character right. And even if the show catches the book there is always the possibility that the show diverges from the text, with The Walking Dead that I think is likely given the changes they’ve made already, with GoT I don’t know since I haven’t seen/read it all yet.
For my favourite books I think a number would make good TV shows, while others I admit probably are better as movies. Like, I think that The Hunger Games work better as movies, and I’m even tempted to say Harry Potter as well is in that boat (granted there’s a lot of detail, but I feel the story is better told via film). I think whatever the medium, adaptation is a difficult beast, but by and large, they do a pretty good job.
What do you think? Is TV having a revival of sorts? Are TV shows based on books a better idea than movies based on books? What TV shows based on books do you like?