Books-to-TV: 20 Small-screen Adaptations We Can’t Wait to Watch
Ready for some serious couch time? These are the book-to-series adaptations we’re looking forward to this year.
By Jessica Dukes
As book lovers, we’re not surprised that our favorite titles are snatched up by studios, eager to turn them into shows or movies. A great story is a great story, whether on the page or the screen. On every channel, you can find a successful book-to-TV series. More Green Gables adventures await us on Netflix when Anne with an E begins its third season this year. Shrill on Hulu had a critically-acclaimed debut in March 2019, based on Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. And HBO bids farewell to Game of Thrones on April 14, in its long-awaited eighth and final season.
There are so many other great books coming to the small screen this year, we had to make a list just to keep up.
Shows with Release Dates
Quicksand on Netflix (April 5)
Starring: Hanna Ardéhn, Felix Sandman
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, named the best Swedish crime novel of 2017, is a courtroom drama made for TV. After a horrible shooting at a Stockholm prep school, eighteen-year-old Maja (Ardéhn) is charged with murder while her privileged community wonders what, if anything, they could have done to prevent the massacre.
The Spanish Princess on Starz (May 5)
Starring Charlotte Hope, Ruairi O’Connor, Elliot Cowan, Harriet Walter
The Spanish Princess is based on two novels by Philippa Gregory—The King’s Curse and The Constant Princess. This beautiful period drama tells the story of how Katherine of Aragon (Hope), Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand’s daughter, battled the British royal family in order to marry Henry VIII (O’Connor) and become the Queen of England.
Catch-22 on Hulu (May 17)
Starring Christopher Abbott, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Kyle Chandler
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 gets the star treatment it deserves on Hulu this year. A WWII bomber squadron stationed in Italy copes with the absurdities of war, not the least of which is the military bureaucracy they must follow. One pilot, Yossarian (Abbot), becomes obsessed with surviving every flight, even as his commanders (Chandler, Clooney) insist that they’re all doomed. But there’s a loophole, a rule named “Catch-22” that may save them all…if they can figure out how to follow it.
The Hot Zone on National Geographic (May 27)
Starring Julianna Margulies, Topher Grace, Liam Cunningham, James D’Arcy, Noah Emmerich
The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston tracks how a highly infectious, incurable virus got from central Africa to the suburbs of Washington D.C. in 1989. It kills quickly—a 90% death rate within a few days of infection—throwing scientists and the military into a mad race against time as they work to contain it. This is one TV drama that will be even more exciting because it’s based on a true story.
Good Omens on Amazon Prime (May 31)
Starring David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Jon Hamm, Frances McDormand
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett fans everywhere are rejoicing, now that Good Omens is coming to TV. With only days to go before Armageddon, an angel (Sheen) and a demon (Tennant) realize that they’d rather not depart their cushy lives on Earth. If they are to prevent the war to end all wars—one that everyone else is really jazzed for—they must team up and find the Antichrist, whoever that kid is.
NOS4A2 on AMC (June 2)
Starring Zachary Quinto, Ashleigh Cummings, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
NOS4A2 (as in Nosferatu) by Joe Hill is the stuff of supernatural nightmares. Charlie Manx (Quinto) lures children into his 1938 Rolls Royce and takes them to Christmasland, an eerily joyful theme park that no one is allowed to leave. As a child, Victoria (Cummings) escaped—an insult Manx can’t forgive. His revenge comes decades later, when he snatches a new passenger: Vic’s son.
In Production for a 2019 Release
Producers have promised a 2019 release for these shows and movies, but we’ll have to wait patiently for an actual date, along with a confirmed list of cast members.
Archibald’s Next Big Thing on Netflix
Tony Hale (of Arrested Development) and Tony Biaggne’s children’s book Archibald’s Next Big Thing, follows an insecure chicken who doesn’t know who he wants to be when he grows up. A mysterious clue to his Big Thing leads Archibald and his friend, Bee, on a journey. Eventually, they realize that the journey—the friendship and the excitement—is the “thing” he sought all along. Good stuff for the little ones to watch.
Dublin Murders on BBC / Starz
Starring Sarah Greene, Killian Scott, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
This TV mini-series is based on the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, which begins with her incredible debut, In the Woods. Detective Cassie Maddox (Greene), Frank Mackey (Vaughan-Lawlor), and others on the exclusive Dublin Murder Squad work to solve the worst crimes in The Fair City—missing and murdered children, kidnappings, and unidentified remains fill their case files. With six books in the series, we could be looking at multiple seasons.
The Feed on Amazon
Starring Guy Burnet, Michelle Fairley, David Thewlis, Nina Toussaint-White
The Feed by Nick Clark Windo is a post-apocalyptic study of what happens when our firehose of information is cut off. It’s not hard to imagine: this is a world where everyone is connected to the Feed, a real-time delivery of events as they happen along with everyone’s reactions to them. Tom (Burnet) has managed to curb his addiction to the Feed, which ensures his and his family’s survival when it is unexpectedly destroyed. Without technology, how will people make money or find life-saving food? Worse, how will Tom and Kate (Toussaint-White) find their daughter who has gone missing in the chaos?
Green Eggs and Ham on Netflix
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Michael Douglas, Adam Devine, John Turturro
Would you, could you watch a show based on Green Eggs and Ham with a goat? We would! Especially when that goat is John Turturro. Narrated by Keegan-Michael Key, viewers of all ages will love this new take on an old Dr. Seuss favorite. We can’t wait to see Sam (Devine) serving up breakfast in a dozen zany ways once again. Bonus: it’s also a clever way for parents to talk to their picky eaters about trying new things.
His Dark Materials on HBO/BBC
Starring Dafne Keen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson
Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials comes to TV in a partnership between HBO and BBC this Fall. The series begins when Lyra Belacqua (Keen) braves witches and bears to travel North and find her missing friend, guided by a rare and valuable golden compass. As Lyra gains notoriety, she is thrust into the search for Dust, the dark matter that is the building blocks to human consciousness.
The Irishman on Netflix
Starring Robert De Niro, Anna Paquin, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
With so many mob-movie icons in the cast, and directed by Martin Scorsese, The Irishman is one of the most anticipated direct-to-streaming movies of the year. It’s based on the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro) as told by Charles Brandt in I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa. Sheeran is installed as the head of the Delaware Teamsters by Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), but his real work is “painting houses”—killing people, splattering their blood—for La Cosa Nostra. Sheeran also happens to be the last person to see Hoffa alive, leading many to believe he made the hit…a crime that the FBI has yet to solve.
The Last Kids on Earth on Netflix
Starring Nick Wolfhard, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Campbell
Max Brallier’s The Last Kids on Earth series could very well be the next big hit with the middle school crowd on Netflix. Jack Sullivan (Wolfhard) and his squad are surviving on junk food in his treehouse…for now. The monster apocalypse is in full swing, and it’s up to this sugared-up group of thirteen-year-old kids to kill Blarg, the scariest monster in town.
The North Water on BBC
Starring Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell returns to BBC this year as Henry Drax, the drunk and violent whale hunter from Ian McGuire’s bestselling novel, The North Water. When an ex-army surgeon joins the arctic whaler, he thinks he’s escaping the horrors of war, but then he meets Drax—another kind of evil. As the two men confront each other in the dark Arctic winter, we wonder: Who will make it back to land?
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold on BBC
In John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Alec Leamas is a British spy in charge of the Berlin station at the end of the Cold War. One mission remains: exacting revenge for the killing of his last agent. Leamas goes undercover to frame the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service, but the real drama here is psychological. The book (and the show) questions the morality of such work, and exposes each side’s defeatist resolve to win the Cold War no matter the cost.
Tales of the City on Netflix
Starring Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney, Ellen Page, Murray Bartlett
Filming reportedly wrapped in January 2019 on this much-anticipated next chapter, with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis returning to the show. Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City invites us into the eccentric lives of the tenants at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. In the book, it’s 1976 and Mary Ann (Linney) leaves her life as a secretary in Cleveland for a shot at something new in California. In the show, Mary Ann returns to Barbary Lane for a nostalgic reunion with the group of friends she left behind.
The Watchmen on HBO
Starring Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson
Ten years ago, Alan Moore’s Hugo-award winning The Watchmen was made into a feature film, and this year fans are getting a 10-episode series on HBO. In an alternate 1985, Nixon is still President, the U.S. is on the verge of WWIII, and superhero powers have either been criminalized or absorbed into government jobs. When one of their own is mysteriously killed, Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and the Silk Spectre investigate and discover a troubling conspiracy: someone plans to sacrifice a major city in order to save all of humanity.