LISTS… 3 TV shows with a book that complements it



Some relevant reading for a few TV series…


Sharing my thoughts on a few telly adaptations with an autobiography, a spin-off book and one adapted from the source material.



This is the third of my 2023 posts for this weekly entertainment-themed challenge from Wandering Through the Shelves.  For my one and only March post, the challenge was,

“the TMP Television Edition: Companion Reads, where I will “Pair a book to a TV show that makes a good companion read because they feature similar themes / subject – not necessarily the book it was based on”.

More about this blog’s 2023 blogging challenge is found HERE… if you are now keen to join this fun collaboration.

…. Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them.

All my contributions for 2023 are found HERE… and my and others’ contributions for this particular topic are HERE. Please note I will be adding all links to this collaboration as I get them… These posts will be on the following TV series… The Midwich Cuckoos (2022), The Offer (2022) and Tales of the Unexpected (1979-88), followed by a book I would recommend to accompany the series.


The Offer (2022).. (or how Hollywood adapted The Godfather by Mario Puzo)

Darlin Husband recommended I check out The Offer, a fabulous 10 part TV series take on the conception of the film The Godfather (1972), from the novel to the movie premiere. It’s a detailed behind the scenes tale with Hollywood moguls, the real life Mafia, yummy looking Italian food and more film star “lookalike” cameos than you can shake both your fists at (and you do like you have done before). The story behind the scenes off-screen told of much more than a few off-screen marriage breakups, near death experiences and dealings with ol’ blue eyes himself.

The show however is stolen by the man behind the big 1970s glasses, Paramount studio executive, Robert Evans. Evans is played by a larger than life Matthew Goode, who asks the then TV producer Albert S. Ruddy (Miles Teller) to make this award winning gangster movie. Then it tells the story of how Ruddy with the help of his outspoken and loyal secretary and personal assistant, Bettye McCartt (Juno Temple) hunt down the author of The Godfather, Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo) to obtain the screen rights. Puzo with the help of Francis Ford Coppola (Dan Fogler) then screenwrite this bestselling novel and together make movie history… and there is a lovely scene where the writer and director get inspiration for one of the scenes while making a meal together.

Sadly this fabulous casting is let down by the all-star cast playing The Godfather’s all-star cast. There is a raspy “Marlon Brando” as the titular godfather heading a cast of unconvincing nobodies trying to look like somebodies. “Frank Sinatra” wins the contest as the series least credible lookalike and soundalike effortlessly, but it’s a close competition. This TV series needed a few on-screen titles to say who was who as they did in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), as you can’t always depend on the obviously more talented wardrobe mistress or master’s assistance for this guessing game. There is also the surprise addition to the cast of the man who played the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk (1978-92), Lou Ferrigno and Giovanni Ribsi is also a delight as Joseph Columbo, a real life Mafia head.

This series is elevated by a splendid and accurately researched script, and stunning set details  – the 1970s Paramount studio set is breathtaking – you really will get lost in a better way in this true life film biopic. However thanks to these other factors, you can ignore the fact that the actor playing James Caan looks more like Robert Duvall etc. 

A book recommended to accompany this series…

Has to be the autobiography, The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans which chronicles his life. Wikipedia describes this book HERE as,

The book chronicles Evans’ rise from childhood to radio star to film actor to production chief of Paramount Pictures to independent producer, his marriage to Ali MacGraw, his downfall including his 1980 cocaine bust and implication in the murder of Roy Radin, aka “The Cotton Club Murder”, his banishment from Paramount Pictures, and his return to the studio in the early 1990s.


The Tales of the Unexpected (1979-88) British TV show with a tie-in short story collection…

It’s back in time to the UK, between 1979 and 1988 a time when Brits watched 9 series and 112 episodes of those late night stories adapted to the wee screen, with a bit of a twist in the tale. The series was first introduced by its author, Roald Dahl. Dahl was also the author of those fabulous kid’s books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda.

The Tales of the Unexpected series, however, had more adult friendly stories – at first from Dahl’s short story collection – which were reenacted with some fabulous names from film and TV in approximately 30 minutes. These episodes starred included a fantastic array of now more familiar names including Charles Dance, Janet Leigh, Brian Blessed, Anna Neagle, Pauline Collins, Charles Dance and Michael Hordern. 

It was best remembered for the opening sequence, with the appearance of a silhouette of a naked woman dancing, a roulette wheel, a gun and fire as the theme tune played and perhaps these items indicate an adult random tale would be told (or something). Wikipedia stresses Dahl’s stories are different to those from The Twilight Zone adding HERE

Tales of the Unexpected features few supernatural, science-fiction, or fantasy elements and instead takes place in entirely realistic settings (exceptions include the series-one episode “William and Mary”, the series-two episode “Royal Jelly”, and the series-four episode “The Sound Machine”).

The Man from the South had the honour of being the adapted story to open the Tales of the Unexpected series. The final episode was Mr Know All starring Topol and Kim Thomson with more on this story HERE. In between these, I would also recommend my favourite episode Neck, starring Joan Collins, John Gielgud and Peter Bowles.

A few of these shows were originally aired as part of the series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-65) and these included Lamb to the Slaughter and Man from the South. Having watched both versions of Lamb to the Slaughter episodes, it was interesting to watch both television interpretations of this short story. It tells of a pregnant woman who kills her husband after he tells her he’s leaving her for another woman. But after the police visit her, you will find there is a twist in this tale in relation to the murder weapon. Alfred Hitchcock Presents had Barbara Bel Geddes in this leading role, and Tales of the Unexpected has British star, Susan George in this part.

In time, other authors’ stories were featured in episodes and Roald Dahl ceased presenting this show. Nowadays the whole series is easy to find on video sites on the internet, and Darlin Husband and I often watch these to try to guess the ending before the end of the show. Needless to say, both these short stories also appeared in a series of spin-off books from this series, which I remember reading avidly as a kid. 

A book recommended to accompany this series…

Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected (1979) is a collection of 16 short stories from this author. These stories include Lamb to the Slaughter, Man from the South, Way up to Heaven, Parsons Pleasures, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel Coat, Neck and Royal Jelly. 


The Midwich Cuckoos gets a 2022 British TV makeover.

My final recommendation for a TV series is one I watched after enjoying both the film versions, of Village of the Damned from 1960 and the similarly titled Village of the Damned (1995). Both films have the premise where after everyone in a village blackout, the childbearing aged women of Midwich – England in the former, America in the latter – all fall pregnant. In time they give birth to alien kids who look like the kids in Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart pop video ie white hair wigs and spooky presence.

This TV series now named after the novel, The Midwich Cuckoos I watched with the hope that it would be a worthy new remake. But instead, I found it was one, which literally did a total eclipse of the plot. I recommend it though simply to compare it to those film versions and the book. This 2022 version differed as it centred around female characters and had a female protagonist. This was the opposite to the films and book where this character had been a man, Professor Gordon Zellaby as played by George Sanders in the original film, and Christopher Reeve as Alan Chaffee in the 1995 reboot.

Now in the TV series Zellaby is a woman, Dr Susannah Zellaby with Keeley Hawes in her best patronising performance as a psychotherapist. Like the other versions, she tries to befriend these unempathetic “alien” children, one of which is now her granddaughter. The change of focus of the story of the book and the films was explained HERE by the show’s writer,

“It became really clear to me when I started to adapt it that there’s a big shift needed for a modern audience”, Farr said. “The story is basically about women getting pregnant and yet, somehow, it’s so male as a book. So a big shift across from the male to the female started and, me being the writer is a bit weird of course, so female writers came on board.”

This series also changed the look of those spooky kids who now – as they all look like their mothers instead of alien like – are kind of interchangeable with every other kid. In both the book and the films these children all looked spookily alike with platinum hair and spooky eyes, so you knew they were kinda different. 

It’s claimed in this series that the kids had alien features, but these weren’t that obvious. There are also a few alien boys, like both the films.. god forbid as some of them develop with a Y chromosome (but still look like their mother). They have hypnotic powers and will harm and kill those who harm them or they dislike by using telepathy… and those eyes go super spooky.

A book recommended to accompany this series…

John Wyndham’s original novel of the same name from 1957.


Other adaptations from a novel / play to TV reviewed here include… All Creatures Great and Small (1978-2005), American Gods (2017-21), Anne of Green Gables (1985), Brief Encounter (1974), Canterbury Tales (The Wife Of Bath Ep2) (2003), If Tomorrow Comes (1986), Murder is Easy (1982), Murder with Mirrors (1985), Outlander (2014), Peter Pan (1976), Ray Bradbury Theatre (1986), The Scapegoat (2012), Strong Medicine (1986), The Thorn Birds (1983) and Wolfe Hall (2014-).

So as a reader and a telly watcher, my recommendation is to watch after you read to see just how faithful that adaptation is, or to read after you watch to see where it all began. It really is a case of the chicken and the egg. Some great TV can be hatched from ideas and plots from some wonderful books, and the opposite holds true…  are some adaptations or tie-ins so bad they totally make you want to fly the coop or snuggle up under a feather duvet with just the one perfect telling…


Don’t forget to read the other contributions for this topic on Wandering Through the Shelves link up HERE

Tune in May for the TMP Television Edition: TV Score and/or Theme Song…




8 thoughts on “LISTS… 3 TV shows with a book that complements it

  1. A great triple review, Gill!
    I’ve never heard of the offer, but I do love the flashback to classic Hollywood, so I’m sure I would enjoy it.

    If I get a chance to watch the mid witch cuckoo’s, I will take it, but it’s not a priority. It doesn’t sound the greatest but thank you for putting it on my radar.

    Liked by 1 person

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