From Page To The Small Screen

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC From Page To The Small Screen

If there is one thing TV programmers like these days it is the literary world and networks have been adapting novels to the small screen successfully for decades. Thanks in part to the success of shows like Game of Thrones, the practice however seems to have accelerated in recent years.

To celebrate the release of Amazon Prime’s latest page to screen adaptation, The Man in the High Castle, based on the 1962 novel of the same name from Philip K. Dick, we take a look at some of our favourite literary adaptations, with a little sneak peek of what’s to come next year.

The Man in the High Castle

It was back in January of this year that the pilot episode for Amazon original series, The Man in the High Castle, debuted and was crowned the most watched since the original series development programme began. Produced by Ridley Scott the series is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick and explores a world in which the Axis powers won World War II. Set in the 1960s where the United States has been split into three parts, The Japanese state of the Pacific States of America, a Nazi state that comprises of the eastern half of the former United States, and a neutral zone which acts as a buffer between the two areas, known as Rocky Mountain States. Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, Rufus Sewell and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa star as the shows central characters. All episodes of the first season are now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Game of Thrones

Based on the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series by George R.R. Martin, adapting Game of Thrones from page to screen is no mean feat thanks in part to its complex storylines and huge cast;  during the production of the third season there were a mammoth 257 recorded cast names! With an incredible 26 Primetime Emmy wins under its belt, it’s no surprise that fantasy drama series Game of Thrones attracts viewers in their droves.  The show first graced our screens back in 2011 and proved to be compulsive viewing from the start. And five seasons in we’re still learning through cut throat casting choices that no character is safe from a premature death. Set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, it chronicles the struggles among the realms noble families for control of the Iron Throne. Not for the faint hearted the series requires an element of concentration thanks to its sprawling cast believed to be the largest on television.


Now in its tenth year and tenth season, popular crime series Bones is very loosely based on the life and writings of novelist and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who also works as a producer on the show. Starring David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, each episode focuses on an FBI case file concerning the mystery behind human remains. The title character Temperance Brennan (Deschanel) is named after the protagonist of Reichs’ crime novel series and in the series Dr Brennan writes successful mystery novels featuring a fictional forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs.

House of Cards

With Hollywood heavyweight Kevin Spacey at the helm, House of Cards was always going to be a hit. An adaptation of the BBC mini-series of the same name and based on the novel by Michael Dobbs, all thirteen episodes of the first season premiered on Netflix back in 2013 and a fourth series has been confirmed for 2016. With a backdrop of present day Washington D.C, the show follows Frank Underwood (Spacey) a democrat and House Majority Whip, who with the help of his wife Claire (Robin Wright) constructs an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of greater power.  With standout performances from both Spacey and Wright the show’s opening season was heavily praised, receiving nine Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the first original online-only television series to receive major Emmy nominations.

True Blood

Produced and created for the small screen by Alan Ball, True Blood is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Set in Bon Temps, a fictional small town in north-western Louisiana and starring husband and wife duo Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, the show centres on the co-existence of vampires and humans. Spanning seven seasons and 80 episodes, the HBO show first aired back in 2008 and concluded in 2014. Thanks in part to the popularity of vampires, following Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the show was a big hit winning a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy.

The Vampire Diaries

Developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, The Vampire Diaries is based on the popular book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. Starring Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, the show is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, where the residents are haunted and surrounded by supernatural beings such as vampires, werewolves and witches. The show first aired back in 2009 and in January of this year it was renewed for a seventh season despite Dobrev, the shows protagonist confirming that she will be leaving the show after its sixth season. Another favorite with the Twilight generation, the show’s pilot episode attracted the largest audience for The CW of any series premiere since the network began in 2006, it has since gone on to pick up countless teen friendly awards including Teen Choice, People’s Choice and Kids’ Choice awards.

Boardwalk Empire

Created by Terence Winter for HBO, Boardwalk Empire is inspired by the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. The show centres on criminal kingpin Enoch L. Johnson, played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi, and features a strong ensemble cast including Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Vincent Piazza and Patricia Arquette. The show received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its pilot episode which was directed by Martin Scorsese and cost $18million to produce. Throughout its five seasons, the show was nominated for a whopping 57 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 20 of them in total.

The ones to look out for in 2016 and beyond 

In 2016 and beyond we can expect a host of new shows adapted from books hitting out screens. Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky is said to be working on a MaddAddam adaptation based on the trilogy Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam by Margaret Attwood. The man behind Ally McBeal, David E. Kelley, has selected Stephen King’s 2014 novel Mr. Mercedes as the backdrop for his a new show. King has confirmed that the book will be part of a trilogy so there will be plenty of scope for Jack Bender who will be director. And, it may have failed as a movie series by ABC are set to bring The Mortal Instruments series to life in a show titled Shadowhunters, which will begin production in May.

The Man in the High Castle is available for unlimited streaming and to download from Amazon Prime now.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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