Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Voice of Reason #4: Brits Do It Better

E4's The Inbetweeners

America. Land of the free, home of liberty, justice and apple pie. All that stuff. Oh, and the home of crappy British television remakes. It's no secret that American networks have developed a tendency to adapt hit British TV shows for American audiences with less than brilliant results. It's almost become something of a running joke.

Now, up until now, I've been relatively okay with this. It's kind of understandable that the niche comedy found in certain British shows wouldn't translate so well with American audiences. It might sound a little clich├ęd, but the differences in humour between the Brits and the Yanks isn't a figment of our imaginations. Added to this, not all American adaptations have been as disastrous and horrific as the Hindenburg. The most obvious example is by far The Office.

The American Office
A definitive British comedy from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the initial scepticism that shadowed the American adaptation in 2005 has been outshone since. The American Office has run 12 times as many episodes as its predecessor and has grown into a classic comedy show in its own right. It is arguably better in some aspects as well; whilst The British Office was centred on solely David, Gareth, Tim and Dawn, the American Office has a much stronger and memorable supporting cast.

That is pretty much however where the positives end. The list of horrific, awkward, disastrous and toe-curlingly bad adaptations sadly out weigh the good ones by a long way. Life On Mars, Being Human, Shameless and Skins are just a few to get us started. All interesting, successful and popular British drama shows that have been lost (sporadically) in translation. When reworking for the American market, the daring, edgy and controversial E4 show Skins failed to make a splash and instead sank faster than a dead scuba diver.

Add to this the horror that was Little Britain USA as well as the little known about IT Crowd remake pilot episode. Such was the lack of originality, the episode was a shot for shot, word for word rehash of the originals first episode, going as far as casting Richard Ayoade in the role of Moss, a role originally played by Richard Ayoade. There is a reason why this is spoken little of.

But worst of all is the most recent of all. MTV is currently airing a remake of E4's The Inbetweeners. And they've butchered it. One of the most endearing things about the original is its crassness and its genuineness. Will, Simon, Neil and Jay aren't over-played or over-acted; they act like teenage guys, right down to the biting banter and the endless mutual torment. The fact that it is also endlessly quotable ("Bumder", "Oooh fwriend", "bus wankers") doesn't hamper the show.

The American remake on the other hand is devoid of all that made the original funny. It's taken classic scenes  and features from the original and not reworked them at all; Simon spray painting Carly's name onto her driveway, his pathetic yellow Fiat and so on. It makes me wonder why they even bother making the show in the first place if all they are going to do is copy everything from the original. If American audiences want to see that kind of show, they should just cut out the middle man and watch the original! If the scenes are identical (sometimes word for word) then surely it makes no difference whether the show is set in America or Britain. It's completely and utterly needless.  Seriously, America, just give up remaking British TV, save some money and watch the originals.

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