Before TV remakes became common, Dan Aykroyd revived Dragnet
Dragnet was a substantial hit, grossing more than $66 million domestically, and ranking 14th at the 1987 box office. But by the time Aykroyd once again tried to meld his television past with his cinematic present, with the 1993 SNL spin-off Coneheads, the result was so desperate that it all but spelled the end of Aykroyd’s career as a box-office draw. If Coneheads had followed The Blues Brothers to the big screen in 1981, it could have been a contender, commercially and otherwise. In 1993, nearly a decade and a half after Aykroyd left Saturday Night Live, its existence only highlighted Aykroyd’s creative stagnation. Aykroyd was desperately rifling through his back pages in search of a hit. (And when Aykroyd took over for Bill Murray in the ill-fated 1988 Caddyshack sequel, he was reduced to rifling through his contemporary’s back pages in search of a hit.) When that didn’t work, he nevertheless returned to the television-derived TV trough thrice more, first with 1996’s Sgt. Bilko, then most tragically and poignantly with 1998’s Blues Brothers 2000, which attempted to fill the impossible void left by John Belushi’s death by replacing him with a black guy (Joe Morton), a fat guy (John Goodman), and a kid (J. Evan Bolifant). By the time Aykroyd essayed the role of Yogi Bear in Yogi Bear 3-D, the notion of a movie based on a television show had gone from the intriguing novelty of The Blues Brothers to the safe crutch of Dragnet to a dumb joke with no punchline.