Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday November 20, 2016 The book was better...

It’s not uncommon to hear people talking about books being made into films, , but have you considered books into television series? Perhaps you’ve even enjoyed some of these programs without knowing that there’s more to discover by reading the books. It can be a bit trickier finding these gems as the titles often aren’t simply the same as the book title.

For example I was enjoying watching The Expanse (a space opera with a case to be solved) when I found it seemed oddly familiar. It was only after looking it up that I discovered that the series is based on Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. The book is the first of a series of nine that are collectively share the title of the television series , but having a gap of years between reading the book and watching the show I didn’t immediately make the connection. On the other hand there are books that some of us were first introduced to as television series. For many the show Bones was the introduction to Kathy Reichs’ writing. The screenwriters even have some naming the character Temperance Brennan (Bones) writes about in her fiction after Kathy Reichs.

A popular means of naming the show is to take the main character from the book series. In these cases as long as you know the character the series will be recognizable. Two examples that immediately come to mind are Wallander and Vera. Both are British television series, the first based on Henning Mankell’s Swedish crime series and the latter based on Ann Cleeves’ novels set in Northumberland. One more thing these programs have in common is casting well known actors as their lead characters, with Detective Kurt Wallander played by Kenneth Branagh and DCI Vera Stanhope by Brenda Blethyn. There are a significant number of television series casting actors we would typically consider movie actors working on the smaller screen. I like to imagine that they enjoy the larger canvas of a series where their characters have more time to develop than in a two hour film. I hear much less frequently that "the book was better" in reference to television series than films.

Mysteries really seem to have a corner on the books to television market. We have the aforementioned examples of Bones, Wallander, and Vera; all of which use the name, or the nickname in the case of Bones, of the lead character as title and that theme continues with some of the classics. In the case of Agatha Christie’s popular mysteries the makers of the television series wanted no doubt in the viewers’ minds as whom the titles refer. Thus we have Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Agatha Christie’s Marple, rather than the single name titles of some of the other programs. With the enduring popularity of her work it’s no surprise that the producers wanted to ensure that we know we’ll be entertained by her stories.

An increasing number of epic fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even literary fiction have been adapted for televsion rather than for film as we might expect. In addition to the massively popular Game of Thrones and Walking Dead series you will also find Outlander, The Shannara Chronicles, Under the Dome, and The Book of Negroes.

Whether the books lead you to the television program or the reverse I hope you enjoy all the means of getting a great story.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

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