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NBC’s prospects for a Say Anything series have come to a quick and vicious end, but that doesn’t mean 1980s cinema will stop being mined for new TV ventures. ABC is going into development on a small screen adaptation of John Hughes’ slovenly 1989 comedy hit Uncle Buck. Are we ready to see network TV’s version of the “talking dirty to a washing machine” gag?
This version of Uncle Buck will be a multi-camera sitcom from Universal TV and producer Will Packer, whose production company has put out recent hits like Ride Along and the Think Like a Man films. It wouldn’t be out of the question to think that Packer’s involvement means the Russell family might be black this go-around, though the project will be written by two white guys, Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, both of whom wrote and produced for MADtv, Scrubs and Happy Endings. So who knows what this family’s background will be?
The ABC comedy will follow the basic premise of the movie, according to Deadline, and centers on a childish man who finds his way to adulthood by taking care of his brother’s children in his own particular way. It’s not impossible to see this film making its way to TV, and not just because it was already turned into a CBS show for Kevin Meaney back in 1990. The idea of an unequipped person having to learn to be a parental figure is pretty much a sitcom trope at this point. It’s hard to justify a treasured film being dumbed down and stretched out for TV, but at least Uncle Buck has a concept that lends itself well to new situations and ideas.
The film memorably starred John Candy in the title role, and he was joined by Macaulay Culkin, Amy Madigan and Gaby Hoffman. Uncle Buck, along with the Hughes-scripted Christmas Vacation, was the transitional period between Hughes’ sorta-adult comedy phase and his “I’m only going to write movies with kids in them” phase that mostly consumed the rest of his career. Take a look at one of my favorite scenes in the film below, in which Candy is gleefully at his creepiest.
This marks the umpteenth classic film that TV has pulled into its serialized format in recent months. NBC has Real Genius and Problem Child in the works, while Fox is remaking Big. With both Hughes and Candy dead, I guess ABC doesn’t have to worry about the Say Anything backlash that NBC and 20th Century Fox TV got. Are you guys excited about seeing Uncle Buck return to our daily lives?