E.T. the Extraterrestrial as a sitcom looks like something that people would accept as a joke but not as a reality. Of course when you factor in that Alf was so popular during its own run it’s hard to say anything too firm against it since there’s always a way to stretch a story out, but the idea is SHOULD you, not CAN you. E.T. was a movie that fit just fine into its own carefully constructed parameters and despite parodies didn’t really see fit to stretch that far beyond the boundaries that had been created. For a while E.T. was everywhere and his popularity managed to stretch beyond the year of the movie’s release and stayed with us for a while to come. But making a sitcom out of it would have likely killed it off even quicker and created the nostalgic feel that we have today but in a much different way. It would probably open up a lot more possibilities for gags between E.T. and Elliott since the beer-drinking scene was classic and what came after was pretty great as well. E.T. was one of those movies that made a person stop and stare it for a while, thinking as to whether they want to watch it or if they want to keep on moving. But a series probably would have lasted one season before it was given the ax. Matt Wood of CinemaBlend has more to say in his own words.
Why would I say that? I enjoyed the movie just as much as anyone, but it wasn’t meant for a series since the story was pretty cut and dry and if it had to be lengthened it would rely on a lot of factors being different than the movie and being dependent on the current era as well. Keeping E.T. hidden wouldn’t have been the issue, or maybe it would have but it would have been able to stretch across a handful of episodes. It would be keeping things realistic on a fictional level, basically keeping all the story elements in line and coherent so that they worked and meshed with one another instead of making a giant mess that would ruin the continuity of the whole thing. In a situation like this it almost feels that an E.T. series would debark from the original story line somehow and create its own canon, if the director at the time had the idea and was willing to make a go of it. Given that Spielberg never really shies away from anything it might have happened had he expressed any interest since for a long time he was one of the most influential men in Hollywood, and still is really if you want an honest opinion. Dan Stephens of Top 10 Films has more to say about this subject.
Had he ever said ‘yes’ to this then it’s likely it could have been in the wings at the very least, but had it gone beyond that point it does feel as though it would have been a grave mistake. It’s not just from a sentimental standpoint that it feels as though it would be wrong, but from a business standpoint as well since over-saturation of an idea is a very big reality and has happened in the past. E.T. was everywhere if you remember when he came out, he was one of the biggest names of peoples’ lips for a while when the movie released, and even when it’s anniversary hit. But driving it into the ground with a series could have easily changed all that since forcing it on people would have likely had the opposite effect as excitement would have probably turned to boredom after a while. This is the issue with turning movies into sitcoms and sometimes vice versa. By taking a movie and stretching it the length it needs to be in order to create a sitcom the focus of the story can and is lost from time to time, while taking a sitcom and making it into a movie has the opposite effect of trying condense everything that’s come before into a neat little package that will personify the show. In other words, E.T. would have been ruined had he been taken to the small screen as a sitcom since his allure would have dragged out and created an expectation that eventually could not be met over and over. Keeping him as a movie character was a better idea since it allowed the awe and surprise of who he was and why he was on earth to remain.
Yes I know, that’s a lot of exposition about something that will never be but is a parody that people can laugh at, but it’s the unvarnished truth as well considering that transitioning shows and movies back and forth carries a great deal of risk when it comes to maintaining the integrity of the overall story. Despite the desire of the fans at times, there are those moments when Hollywood knows better. Michael May of CBR has more on this.