TV Shows Better Than The Movies They Were Based On

1) Smoke on the Lanes

So everyone loves the Big Lebowski. What can we say about it? Go ahead. Quote from it for the next couple of minutes. Think about your favorite scenes. We’ll wait. You’re doing it anyway. Welcome back. So, remember Smokey? You know, the guy who was entering a world of pain when John Goodman accused him of stepping over the line?

Thursday nights at 1:37 A.M. on ESPN4 you could, for a brief period of time in August of 1999, find Smokey teaching you how to bowl. A brief episode guide is as follows: Episode one: Rolling for Dummies, Episode Two: Seven-ten Your Splits, Episode Three: Grinding Out Winners, Episode Four: Bogarting Other Lanes, Episode Five: Freak Out (The Art of Psychological Bowling), Episode Six: (Untitled #4). The show was a bizarre cross of Fishing with John and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, in that each episode was nothing but a series of non-sequiturs and inaction. It was the poster child for ennui–the show some, no one, called a harbinger of the Bush administration. The last episode was the least watched, but had John Goodman and Jeff Bridges reprising their roles–mostly arguing if bowler hats had anything to do with bowling. Sam Elliott even showed up to make some cryptic comment:

John Goodman

It was the hat Dude. The hat

Jeff Bridges

Man, Watler, you know you can’t, like, bowl with a hat on. You couldn’t see. The brim gets in the fucking way man. I mean, you see all the trouble I have with my hair. I just, it wouldn’t work.

John Goodman

It was designed by the Dutch in the 1800’s to make the game more combatative. Kings had started using it as a mean of warefare.


So, as you can see, you must, MUST, wear shoes or else you’ll slip on the floor.

John Goodman

You’re out of your element Smokey. What do you know about hats?

Sam Elliott

Well, the Dude, Walter, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, the dude what acted out Smokey’s lines, were sure in some sort of bad place, you know.

Smokey died violently at the end of each episode being crushed by balls, sucked into the ball return, food poisoning from the wings, and of cancer on one very special episode. But the best part? Well, you can guess from the title, but for those of you who couldn’t tell, its theme song was Smoke on the Water.

2) McCabe and Mrs. Miller’s Place

John McCabe is a traveling hobo in the old west who won just won the lottery in L.A. He moves because up the coast to Portland because it is suffering from a lack of hardware stores, and his cousin Sol Star made a killing in South Dakota, so he hitches his wagon and is off! He gets to town but finds out that representatives from the Harrison Shaughnessy Mining and Drug Store Ccompany have taken over town! The only place he can rent in town is owned by Mr. Furley and he’ll only rent to John if he pretends to be gay but still live with a sexy lady (Mrs. Miller), who happens to be addicted to Spanish peanuts. So they live together. After that they try to keep up the ruse but regrettably fall in love with each other. There are many missteps along the way, such as when Mr. Furley’s cat comes to visit, and John quickly forgets about the drug store business when Rock N’ Roll is invented. He becomes a record produces so a mob kills him in the series finale. Mrs. Miller stays on, addicted to Spanish peanuts. Here’s a scene!


So. Is that cat coming by today to check on us?

Mrs. Miller.

Probably. I just

(Hears a knock on the door)

Oh no! Quick. Pretend to be gay.


(Clears throat)

Mr. Furley

(Poking his head through the window)

Hey! You kids decent!?


Sure am. Come in.

Mr. Furley

I am in.


Oh. Right.

(Comes in)

So you’re gay, right?


Boy, this sure is wacky.

Mr. Furley



3) Dr. Gonzo: Lawyer at Law

Benicio Del Toro reprises his role as Dr. Gonzo in this reality spin-off from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but there’s a catch: Raoul Duke is nowhere to be found and Dr. Gonzo spends his time charging by the hour for legal advice. Despite the fact that he hasn’t earned a J.D. and is currently not licensed to practice law in any American states or territories, Del Toro, as Dr. Gonzo, actually litigates real cases for this show, often high-profile divorces of the super-rich. The running logic so far is this: He’s not a lawyer, but he plays one on TV, which is good enough for the justice system as it stands today.

Just before entering the courtroom.

Two of our favorite episodes are described below:

1) Del Toro represents T. Denny Sanford (a billionaire who made his fortune by issuing predatory credit cards and makes his home in South Dakota in order to avoid paying income taxes in Arizona and Colorado, where he actually lives) in his divorce case against now-ex-wife Colleen Anderson Sanford. Their prenup stated that Denny could skip out on alimony, but Colleen’s legal team beats it somehow (Del Toro, even while playing Dr. Gonzo, still isn’t sure how), and Denny ends up paying alimony anyway. “Well, that’s what you get when you hire Dr. Gonzo,” says Del Toro at the end of the episode before chewing up a handful of bennies.

2) Del Toro spends a day as a Wikipedia vigilante, cruising through the United States v. [Somebody] pages, making corrections based on what he remembers from the single course in constitutional law that he took in college. It was a 200-level course and Del Toro informs the audience that he made it to class “like a third of the time, so my memory of it is still pretty solid.”

The series was cancelled after a single season. In the final episode, Del Toro, as himself rather than Dr. Gonzo, buys an LSAT test-preparation book and sits down at his kitchen table for a long night of studying. He says he hopes to enter UCLA Law the next fall, even if he has to get in through the “summer bummer” program.

-Yer ever lovin’ staff