A widowed single mother with dreams of being a singer winds up working at a greasy spoon diner after her car breaks down. That might not sound like a recipe for hilarity, but that premise made for a Martin Scorsese-directed, Oscar-winning movie (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”), followed by a CBS sitcom. “Alice” featured Linda Lavin in the title role and a host of memorable characters, including Polly Holliday’s Flo, who earned her own self-titled spinoff.
Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Trapper John and most of the other favorites from this hit TV series began life first in the novel by Richard Hooker and then in Robert Altman’s Best Picture nominee for 1970. The story of a medical unit during the Korean War provided an unexpected amount of laughter and more than a few tears over its 11 seasons. The final episode remains the most-watched series finale of all time. People loved it so much, it earned two spinoffs: “AfterMASH” and “Trapper John, M.D.”
1997 was a busy year for turning sci-fi blends of action and comedy into movies. Based on the 1994 Roland Emmerich spectacle, the series continued to build its universe around the scientists and military personnel who make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization through a wormhole. The show launched a second series, “Stargate: Atlantis,” and made for an exciting second act for post-MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson. Showtime carried “SG-1” for its first five seasons before it jumped to Sci-Fi (now Syfy) for its last five.
Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, the mismatched roommates from Neil Simon’s play-turned-1968-box-office-smash, were too funny to leave on the silver screen. Within two years, the comedy duo was on the air, with Tony Randall replacing Jack Lemmon as the fastidious Felix and Jack Klugman taking over for Walter Matthau in the role of slovenly grouch Oscar. Both of the TV actors had performed in different productions of the play. The show made it 114 episodes over five seasons, earning three nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series from the Primetime Emmy Awards.