Warning: Spoilers for True Lies season 1, episode 2 ahead.

The 1994 True Lies film has been turned into a TV show for CBS. The movie was about Helen Tasker, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, finding out her husband, Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), was a spy. The True Lies TV show follows this formula in the pilot but turns it into a spy procedural, which makes sense for the CBS brand.

True Lies is just one of many films that were rebooted into a television series. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the most successful. The show was based on the 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers, Donald Sutherland as her watcher, and Luke Perry. The series lasted seven seasons and launched the career of Sarah Michelle Gellar. There are many other success stories of movies turned into TV shows like Bates Motel, inspired by the classic horror Psycho and Teen Wolf, based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox film. The Karate Kid also got the reboot treatment with the Cobra Kai series.

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True Lies Dragging Out Helen In The Dark Would Get Annoying

Dana and Helen at family dinner in True Lies

Helen not knowing what her husband did in the True Lies film was fun, but there’s still a quarter of the movie left when Helen finds out that Harry is a spy. The biggest part of the fun is her finding out who he really is. That doesn’t work as well in a series as it does in a movie. The episodes would get repetitive if the series wanted to leave the reveal until the mid-season finale or, even longer, the season finale. Living in a suburban life while her husband is on missions isn’t fun for the character.

True Lies Works Better As A Spy Duo Procedural For TV

Harry and Helen after being kidnapped in the True Lies pilot episode.

Procedurals work well for TV. Just look at the Dick Wolf’s shows. Law & Order: SVU is in its 24th season, Chicago Fire is in its 11th season, and Chicago PD is in its 10th. CBS also has a lineup of procedurals, including the NCIS franchise, FBI shows, Blue Bloods, and S.W.A.T. Turning True Lies into a procedural makes sense. Plus, it translates to television better that way. As mentioned above, the creators couldn’t drag out Helen in the dark for too long. Helen finding out the truth had to come quickly.

Procedurals work for TV because viewers don’t have to watch every episode. More people do in the age of DVR and streaming, but it’s set up so they don’t have to. Different missions each week mean True Lies can continue to pick up new viewers along the way.

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Helen & Harry (Semi) Spying On Their Kids Adds To The Fun In True Lies

True Lies Mrs. Meyers with Tasker kids

Instead of Helen being in the dark, the Tasker’s two kids, Dana and Jake, are the ones not in the know. Helen and Harry must make up cover stories to tell their kids when they go on missions. But, of course, they can’t just leave their kids unattended while they are off saving the world. Luckily, the neighbor is a trained assassin, who the kids think is just a crazy cat lady.

Helen and Harry ask Mrs. Myers to watch out for their kids, particularly Dana (played by Buffy the Vampire star Eliza Dushku in the movie), when they find out she’s going to an 18-year-old’s party and getting in a muscle car with a guy. True Lies does a great job with the fun joke of the parents spying on their kids, but, in reality, they don’t know the entire story of what Dana is up to. Mrs. Myers has pictures of what Dana did at the party. Harry asks Mrs. Myers if there is anything they need to know, and she replies no, “but if you are wondering if there is anything that would make you uncomfortable, definitely.”

Helen and Harry choose not to look at the images to respect Dana’s privacy, but both look at the USB drive with big eyes, like they will cave at some point. It’s a matter of how long it takes or what Dana gets up to that makes them think they need to know what she’s doing. This is a much better adaptation of the movie. The film saw Harry spying on Helen, which was creepy and unhealthy for the marriage. While parents spying on their kids is still not great, it’s done light-heartedly, and parents are always keeping tabs on their kids somehow. Most kids are not entirely left to their own devices, even if they feel like they are.

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Some Storylines In True Lies Film Don’t Translate Well Today

Simon driving Harry in fancy red car in True Lies

The blockbuster True Lies movie came out in 1994. Many things in the film that were acceptable back then would not resonate today. For example, Harry used Omega Sector’s resources to spy on Helen when he thought she was cheating. He harassed the man he thought she was sleeping with and even interrogated his own wife. Harry kidnaped her, locked her in a room that is likely used for suspects, and used a computerized voice. He asked her if she was sleeping with that man and still loved her husband. Creators would not get away with this type of manipulation today.

When Harry learns his wife just wants some excitement in her life and that the man she spoke to made her believe she was working for her country as a spy, he sends her on a fake mission. He made her dance half-naked for him. While she was dancing for her husband, she didn’t know who she was dancing for. He even kisses her. There are so many red flags in this scene that were inappropriate. Audiences wouldn’t react well to scenes like this today. It could even be triggering for some people.

Luckily, the True Lies show fixed the movie’s problems. Instead of harry suspecting Helen of cheating, it’s flipped. Because of Harry’s business trips, Helen thinks Harry is having an affair. But, instead of spying on him, she confronts him. Helen is made an Omega Sector agent instead of sending her on a fake mission. So far, she hasn’t been asked to do anything demeaning like Helen in the movie. And as mentioned above, Helen and Harry are keeping an eye on their kids instead of Harry spying on Helen. These changes make it much better for today’s audiences and are a great recipe for a TV show.

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