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British Television and its American Bastard Stepchildren

16 January 2012

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?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 January 2012 1232

    Also the Office, about 1/2 of all reality shows (Hell’s Kitchen, American Idol, Millionaire, Nanny whatever, ect ect ect). The American viewing audience is dumb and lazy, most don’t even realize they’re being fed re-hashed TV

    • 16 January 2012 1302

      “Our Rolling Stones are way better than your Beatles!” –Homer

  2. 17 January 2012 0956

    Why do they have to rip off other countries TV ?

    Almost no one in Hollywood can have an original thought. They have to use something that “works” (God forbid they come up with something unique and original and have it fail – or even SUCCEED)….

    • 17 January 2012 1259

      That’s one of the reasons sci-fi generally doesn’t do well on the networks anymore. Not because it’s bad programming — just because network execs can’t really get their heads around something new and different, and if it doesn’t generate huge ad revenue in the first couple of episodes… Boom. Gone.

  3. 25 January 2012 1237

    Actually, Canadian television is where it’s really at! You have to watch some Trailer Park Boys, Republic Of Doyle, Arctic Air, etc. They are amazing, kind of like American TV with a little more innocence BEFORE it went all OMG FAKE REALITY!

    • 25 January 2012 1602

      I need to check out some Canadian TV before American networks remake it all into something crappy.

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