Jonathan Melville: Cinema tarnishes TV gold

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IT was less than two years ago that The A-Team hit cinema screens, yet another adaptation of a fondly-remembered 1980s TV show dragged kicking and screaming to multiplexes.

Co-created by Stephen J Cannell, the series was a self-aware comedy-drama that didn’t ask much of the viewer except 50 minutes of their time every week.

Twenty five years on, the film couldn’t hope to retain the original’s charm and it faded away without sign of a sequel.

Undeterred, Hollywood has once more plundered Cannell’s back catalogue for 21 Jump Street, out in the UK in a month’s time.

The series, which ran from 1987 to 1991, starred Johnny Depp as an undercover cop sent to investigate teen crimes.

The update stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, adding more comedy to the premise as it reopens the 21 Jump Street programme for a new generation. Despite being directed by the team behind the brilliant Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and featuring a cameo by Depp, I have my doubts that this will enhance Cannell’s creation.

Luckily for the money men, there’s lots more where 21 Jump Street came from - Cannell also created TV classics The Rockford Files, Hero, Hunter, Riptide, Hardcastle And McCormick, Wiseguy and Renegade, all of which are high-concept enough to sell a shedload of tickets if done right.

Personally, I’d love to see George Clooney as the world-weary Jim Rockford, the LA private eye who charged $200 a day but hardly ever saw a cent of it.

Nobody can replace James Garner, the original Rockford, but team Clooney with Stephen Soderbergh as director and it might just work.

Just don’t let Jonah Hill near this one, please.


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