Scott D. Pierce: Is ‘True Lies’ one of those really good movie-to-TV transitions?

Also this week: ‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Survivor’ return, and Tan France headlines ‘Beauty and the Bleach.’

(Alan Markfield | CBS) Steve Howey as Harry Tasker and Ginger Gonzaga as Helen Tasker in "True Lies."

TV has been turning movies into television series almost as long as television has existed. And some of those adaptations have been really good.

Shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Fargo,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Odd Couple,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Parenthood” (the 2010 drama, not the 1990 sitcom), and, of course, “M*A*S*H” are great TV.

And some movie adaptations — like “Buffy” — are vastly better than the movies on which they’re based.

That does not appear to be the case with the new CBS action/comedy “True Lies.” It’s not a bad show, but it’s not as good as the 1994 original.

(Actually, the 1994 movie “True Lies” wasn’t the original. It was based on the 1991 French film “La Totale!”)

(Alan Markfield | CBS) Ginger Gonzaga as Helen Tasker andSteve Howey as Harry Tasker in "True Lies."

Anyway … James Cameron directed; Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Harry Tasker, a seemingly nerdy computer salesman who was secretly a spy; and Jamie Lee Curtis starred as his wife, Helen, who doesn’t know that Harry is a spy. But, in the course of the film, Helen not only finds out, but gets dragged into Harry’s efforts to stop a terrorist plot.

The two biggest surprises were the chemistry between Curtis and Schwarzenegger and that Tom Arnold — best known at that time for being Roseanne Barr’s second ex-husband — was good as Harry’s partner. And had some actual talent. (Arnold guest-stars on an episode of the TV series as a different character.)

The movie doesn’t altogether hold up, because of the misogyny and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. And the fact that comedy about terrorism seems a lot less funny in 2023 than it did in 1994.

The somewhat awkward juxtaposition of comedy and terrorism remains a bit of a problem with the new “True Lies” TV series, which premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS/Channel 2.

Steve Howey (“Reba,” “Shameless”) stars as Harry Tasker, a seemingly nerdy computer salesman who is secretly a spy. As the series begins, his wife, Helen (Ginger Gonzaga), knows that something is going on, but she wrongly believes that Harry is having an affair. That is until she gets caught up in the middle of one of his assignments and dragged in as an operative for the top-secret U.S. intelligence agency Omega Sector.

The series is essentially bickering spouses saving the world while the cat lady who lives next door — who’s secretly a trained assassin — keeps an eye on their teenage kids.

“True Lies” worked as a movie because Curtis and Schwarzenegger were so good together. Chemistry can’t be forced and, at least in the four episodes screened for critics, Howey and Gonzaga don’t have it. They’re fine, but the TV series is missing the spark the movie had. It’s fun. The stunts and action are good. It’s occasionally amusing.

But, more than anything else, it’s just another CBS procedural.

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Eliza Dushku (right) answers questions along with her mother Judy, during Comic Con, at the Salt Palace, Friday, September 5, 2014

Back in the headlines

Twenty-four years after “True Lies” was released, it was back in the headlines when one of the stars went public with allegations of sexual misconduct during the filming.

Eliza Dushku (who starred as Faith the vampire slayer on “Buffy” and played Curtis and Schwarzenegger’s daughter in “True Lies”) said that, at the age of 12, she had been sexually assaulted by the film’s stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer. She was 12; he was 36.

Kramer, who served Schwarzenegger’s stunt double in multiple films, strongly denied Dushku’s allegations, but two other women said they’d also been assaulted by Kramer — one when she was 16 — and he was dropped by his agency and does not appear to have worked in Hollywood since 2018.

Dushku was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which she has since left. And, when she was growing up in Boston, her bishop was Mitt Romney.

(Photo courtesy of Disney+/Lucasfilm Ltd.) Pedro Pascal, left, as the Mandalorian and Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett in “The Mandalorian.”

Also this week

• “The Blacklist” (Sunday, 9 p.m., NBC/Channel 5) returns for its 10th and final season. I gave up on this show years ago, so you’re on your own here.

• “The Mandalorian” (Wednesday, streaming, Disney+) returns for its third season. Yippee!

• “Survivor” (Wednesday, 7 p.m., CBS/Channel 2) was, for many years, TV’s best reality/competition show. But now it’s so filled with gimmicks it’s lost much of its mojo. This is Season 44, BTW.

(Photo courtesy of Netflix) Tan France in an episode of “Queer Eye.”

• “Beauty and the Bleach” (Wednesday, 9 p.m., Fuse) is a heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking British documentary that features “Queer Eye” guy Tan France — who has long made Utah his home — examining colorism and recounting his own attempts to bleach himself whiter.

• “Alaska Daily” (Thursday, 9 p.m., ABC/Channel 4) will finally resolve its midseason cliffhanger after a loooong hiatus. It hasn’t aired a new episode in 3½ months.

• “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” (Saturday, 8 p.m., Netflix) will be the first live standup special on Netflix. Although you’ll be able to watch it later, too.

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