British Television and its American Bastard Stepchildren
So, I like British TV. Top Gear has made my love of cars ten times worse, Spaced has given me no end of great nerdy comedy, and Hyperdrive… well, I’ve gushed about it on the blog before. And thanks to the Internet, BBC America, and a few other outlets, these shows are available to Americans with minimal effort. You might have noticed that Twitter in general is freaking out lately over Downtown Abbey — I haven’t seen it yet, but my wife Lisa tells me it’s quite good.
So why do American TV execs feel the need to rip off and remake British TV shows? They do it quite a lot — Skins, Being Human, even Wipeout. And the one thing these shows all have in common — the American versions suck in comparison to the originals. The American Top Gear (it doesn’t even deserve italics) is so awful it’s actually physically painful to watch.
I hope it doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an American version of Doctor Who or Sherlock hitting our shores within the next few years. The logic is simple enough, I guess — these shows are wildly popular in another country, so why not make American versions and watch the cash roll in? But somewhere along the way, everything that was special about the original show is lost, leaving a flat, nearly unwatchable copy in its place. If you don’t believe me, track down the pilot episode footage from the American version of Spaced on YouTube, and see how long it takes for you to claw your own eyes out in terror.
So, what’s the show you hope the American TV execs never get their grubby little paws on? And is there a show out there that started off as a British series, but didn’t suck horribly when they made an American version?