Clue, Battleships, Ouija. The world of tabletop games has lead to some…interesting film adaptations in the past.
Sure, movies like Clue (or Cluedo for us Aussies) ended up as cult classics in the end, but most have fallen flat for being unimaginative or too rushed. For me though, the big problem is that they were aiming for the box office, instead of making a binge-worthy TV series I can obsess over for multiple seasons. As a seasoned couch potato, I feel it is my duty to justify my reasoning with a list of pitches. So here you go; 10 board games that I believe could have epic TV adaptations.
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
The pitch: A colony of survivors face constant crises during the zombie apocalypse, including a foreboding presence from the Raxxon megacorporation.
Also, one of the main characters is a stunt Golden Retriever named Sparky.
Now sure, I know we already have a drama-heavy zombie series in the form of AMC’s The Walking Dead (and it’s spin-off). But let’s be honest, that series has continued to dip in quality since season 3. Dead of Winter is a chance to throw that huge ensemble of characters into a more contained story, one that has a clear trajectory and (hopefully) an ending in mind. With secret goals, betrayals, tonnes of characters, and the content introduced in the sequel expansions (a sinister corporation, a warring colony) it’s a franchise just begging to get onto Netflix. Plus, I can’t stress this enough…the lead character is a stunt Golden Retriever named Sparky…’nuff said.
The pitch: Stuck on a far-away planet with limited supplies, space marines and scientists must face off against an army of zombiesque extraterrestrials as they try to fix their shuttle and get off the planet.
I promise these aren’t all going to be zombie series, because we have too many of those on TV. But what we don’t have enough of are rip-offs of James Cameron’s Aliens. Frankly, this is a crime too, because Zombicide Invader’s tense alien battles in claustrophobic corridors would make for some great action horror. Add in some episodic dramas like a broken shuttle, depressurized bases, life support system failures, and the giant abomination skulking around outside, and I’m already rooting for the cast of eccentric heroes at they battle the odds.
The pitch: A simple bamboo farmer resorts to wackier and zanier schemes to shoo away a pesky and persistent panda. Hilarity ensues.
Moving away from violent zombie fiction, how about something that would be amazing as a cartoon? I can already picture a bright and wholesome Tom and Jerry/Road Runner style version of Takenoko on Cartoon Network. All it needs to do is keep the adorable artwork from the instruction manuals and I’d be tuning in for episodes every Saturday morning. (Also…remember Saturday morning cartoons? Adulting sucks!)
The pitch: (as seen on IMDB) Protagonist Herman Wundeba is forced to leave his native land due to dwindling resources and relentless bandits. He and three of his henchmen quickly turn on one another as they vie for fertile land in a new world called Catan.
This is an interesting one, as a Catan adaptation has been in talks several times since 2015, when Gail Katz secured the film and TV rights for the property. There’s even an IMDB listing just sitting around waiting to be filled. We’re still waiting to see if it will ever come to fruition, but with the game becoming more of a household brand, it’s not hard to picture a ‘Game of Thrones’ style epic-drama as settlers create empires to claim reign over Catan. I guess for now we can just be excited about the upcoming Catan AR mobile game!
The pitch: With a singularity event approaching, several time traveling ‘Chrononauts’ from parallel universes are pulled into the prime timeline. Desperate to keep their timeline in existence, they all start competing to change major world events to match their original universe. Meanwhile, the universe gets more and more unstable.
This lesser-known game from the creators of Fluxx is absolutely ripe for some timey-wimey television antics. Competitive timelines is a concept that could be played for either drama or comedy, although comedy would be more in tune with Looney Labs’ intended vibe. Just like in the game, the Chrononauts would create ripple effects throughout time with each event they change, although other travelers may ‘linchpin’ some events to prevent a paradox. Just don’t forget to add in some wacky travelers who only want to collect some dinosaurs, or replace the Mona Lisa with a very obvious forgery.
A Study in Emerald/AuZtralia
The pitch: season one – Set in an alternate 1880s Europe, a rebel army starts a war against the “Old Ones”, a race of cosmic-horror creatures that have ruled over humanity for centuries.
The pitch: season two- A sequel series to “A Study in Emerald” set in 1930s Australia, where the Restorationist War is reignited in the southern hemisphere for humankind’s final stand.
A Study in Emerald: Already inspired by a short story from the legendary Neil Gaiman, this offering from Martin Wallace is the exact kind of post-apocalyptic cosmic horror that the small-screen needs. While Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos is a bit hard for mainstream audiences to access, the psychological-horror and period-drama would just ooze style in a mini-series. Think Sherlock Holmes in paranoia-fueled dystopian drama, and you’ll get the idea of how cool this could be. (That said, Gaiman’s original short story would make for an equally awesome film, although the plot is entirely different)
AuZtralia: Yeah, it’s a two-parter! AuZtralia is a follow-up that swaps the bleak and dark city streets of Europe for the dry and endless deserts of the Australian Outback. It’s hard to say exactly what 1930s Australia would have been like in a world full of giant eldritch abominations. But the red deserts of the outback would make a stunning visual backdrop for some sci-fi warscapes. Personally, I would prefer some artistic liberties were taken and the timeline moved to modern day, but only because I would LOVE to see a crossover with John Marsden’s “Tomorrow When The War Began” novels.
The 7th Continent
The pitch: In the early 20th century, an eclectic group of explorers arrive on the mysterious 7th Continent, where adventure, curses, and intrigue await!
This one needs no explanation for anyone who has played this epic adventure behemoth! A mysterious island a la Lost. A cast of historical and fictional characters like H.P. Lovecraft, Victor Frankenstein and Amelia Earhart. An aesthetic that mixes NBC’s ‘Land of the Lost’ with Indiana Jones, The Mummy and more than a little King Kong. Netflix…call Serious Poulp and get this happening NOW!
Betrayal at House on the Hill
The pitch: Another eclectic group of paranormal investigators and enthusiasts enter the mysterious and labyrinthine House on the Hill for an overnight expedition. But a terror-trail of supernatural occurrences and hidden agendas will make it a struggle to get out by morning, if at all…
After successes like FX’s American Horror Story and Netflix’s Haunting on Hill House, it’s no secret that everyone loves a spooky haunted house series! The cool thing about playing Betrayal is that there’s so many ways that the betrayal can pan out. So my pitch would be an anthology series where the same characters explore the house each season. Each time is a clean slate, so each time it pans out completely different. The house changes layout, the haunts are new, and the traitors change each time! If you have watched Happy Death Day and it’s silly sequel, you would know the kind of campy, mind bendy nonsense I’m craving.
The pitch: A group of every day people suddenly develop ‘Looper’ powers; an ability to reset small periods of time and change events. Their purpose becomes clearer with the appearance of The Mastermind, a super villain with a paranormal ability to influence tragic events.
You don’t know about Tragedy Looper, and that’s a damn shame. An anime-inspired thriller that plays like a living puzzle, this game has one player manipulate the board to perform secret actions, while the protagonists try to work out what is happening and how to stop it. Through a clever use of secret roles and deductive puzzling, the game already provides a surprising amount of emergent storytelling each time you play it. It’s weird, it’s violent, and it would make a perfect horror-themed groundhog day series. Get on my Crunchyroll queue please!
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
The pitch: A serial killer is striking all through Hong Kong, and as special unit of investigators gather clues and close in on the murderer, they begin to suspect that the culprit is among them.
I’m sure there’s already a series that follows this style, but at the moment I can’t think of it. I picture Deception: Murder in Hong Kong as a dark and violent police procedural/mystery thriller centered on a cast of Interpol agents, shadowy organisations, and gritty police bureaus.
Think of a love child between Infernal Affairs, The Bone Collector, The Sinner, and CSI. This could be a glorious single season TV event and frankly, I am HERE for it.
Bonus Mention: Avocado Smash
The pitch: Set in the colourful town of Smashington, where sentient fruits and vegetables all live in harmony by day, but start very violent fight clubs at night.
Do you have any other games you want to see in your Netflix queue? Let us know in the comments!