After posting that trailer for Being Human (U.S.) I started thinking about the sad state of the American TV industry when it comes to original ideas. Whenever I turn around, it seems like “new” TV shows are either based on popular U.K. shows that already have a following here, or are reality garbage. I know it may just be my opinion, but I feel that most TV shows that are translated from the U.K. to the U.S. are vastly inferior to their U.K. counterpart. Even a network show such as NBC’s The Office, being written by the same folks behind the original, suffers from being drug out far too much as it enters its seventh season. Shows like Coupling, Red Dwarf, and even the IT Crowd have had failed pilots over here, and it’s no mystery – people that like the original shows will resent the new show from the outset. With one exception in The Office*, I have found that TV execs produce the show in one of two ways, both of which ruin the show:
1) Leave it “as-is” basically making a shot for shot remake – This baffles me completely as a TV fan. I know that some accents from the U.K. can be rough to American ears, but I have no idea why they just can’t air the original show. The problem with these “as-is” remakes is that the humor is not styled for an American sensibility. The jokes always fall flat due to our mannerisms, a general lack of understanding in irony, and other things too numerous to list. Fans of the Comedy Show Spaced have undoubtedly seen the TV pilot scenes that leaked not too long ago, and I feel those scenes speak for themselves
Or even this ghastly version of Red Dwarf:
2) Same plot, but let’s re-write it to make it “better” – I know I just said that leaving it the same hurts the shows chances, but this is usually worse, especially for fans of the old show. Life On Mars (U.S.) is a prime example of this as it was originally supposed to air at least one year before it actually did. ABC screened the show at the San Diego comic-Con to a horrible response, supposedly many of the execs had no idea that it had a fan base in the U.S. and were scared of the reception. A new pilot with different actors was ordered, and it failed due to declining viewership.
So how do we fix this America? Let’s come up with our own damn ideas! I love British science fiction, not crappy remakes of popular British science fiction. There has to be more than one creative guy in U.S. TV, and rather than block any new shows, how about we nurture our own creative minds. With the announced releases of Skins, Shameless, and even X-Factor the pain keeps going….and going….
Here is a list of the crap that gets made sometimes, count how few actually took off.
* season 1 of the Office is basically a re-shoot of the U.K. version, but it went vastly in it’s own direction thereafter, minus a few things…thankfully