The 1980s Casablanca Prequel Series You Forgot Existed

If I had a dollar for every time someone whined about how ThEy DoN't MaKe AnYtHiNg oRiGiNaL aNyMoRe, I'd be able to pay off the student loans Joe Biden refuses to cancel. Is it true that there is an abundance of mainstream releases based on existing IP, remakes, or sequels? Yes. Is it also true that there's plenty of amazing original content out there but people won't give it the time of day so it gets canceled too soon or underperforms at the box office despite having incredible reviews? ALSO TRUE. The state of entertainment releases is a lot more nuanced than people want it to be, and it also isn't anything new. Hollywood has been remaking, rebooting, and spinning-off major successes for generations, including properties many have deemed "untouchable."

One such example is the very, very short lived series from the 1980s based on *checks notes* "Casablanca." Inarguably one of the best films ever made, "Casablanca" was one of the first films selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. The 1942 film is genuinely and truly iconic, but Hollywood has been trying to recapture its magic for decades. The film has been adapted into several different radio dramatizations, a failed unofficial retooling called "Caboblanco," and Madonna was even once pursuing a remake of the film in 2008.

But what many may not remember is that "Casablanca" has been turned into two separate TV series, with the most recent attempt from 1983 being canceled after only three weeks.

Who Asked for This?

Initially intended to be a weekly series, only five episodes of the "Casablanca" series were shot, and only three made it on the air before the show's cancellation due to bad ratings (via DVD Talk). The remaining two episodes weren't released until four months later, and the show has mostly been forgotten. Set approximately a year before the events of the film, the "Casablanca" series failed predominantly due to the cast's inability to reach the impossibly high standards set by the film.

Many hailed the performance of Hector Elizondo ("Pretty Woman") as Captain Louis Renault, the character originated in the film by Claude Rains, but everyone else had their work cut out for them. David Soul ("Starsky and Hutch") was cast as Rick Blaine — an inspired choice, but he's unfortunately no Humphrey Bogart. And it's not that the show cast nobodies, either: Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas") played a character named Sacha, and Scatman Crothers ("The Shining") portrayed the piano-playing Sam. But to be fair to all involved, asking anyone to match the success of what is overwhelmingly understood to be the peak of filmmaking seems like setting one up for failure.

The series was also shot in color, and while this feels like a particularly nitpicky criticism, it just feels wrong. The beauty of the cinematography in "Casablanca" is rooted in the masterful grasp of lighting: It remains one of the most stunning black and white films ever composed. Putting it in color feels like blasphemy — and yes, I have seen the colorized version of the original film.

Oh, and most of the women have '80s hair and '80s makeup despite it being a period piece. Thanks, but no thanks.