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Adapation Decay: American Versions of Foreign Shows

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This thread is very apropos because I just read some news that an American remake of the Kdrama My Love From Another Star is being planned. I really don't think it's gonna do well. 

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I'm reeling from the try at adapting Coupling, using the exact names and character types from the original. If you are just using the same words and names and title, how can you call it an adaptation? Because the actors and country are different?

 

One I for certain have enjoyed the heck out of is Whose Line Is It Anyway?   It takes fast, funny folk and lets them play! I enjoyed the British version with Clive Anderson, then the Drew Carey version. I am massively happy with the current, Aisha Tyler-helmed version the CW has.  I watch the repeats because they are still delightful. I am excited for the coming season!

 

I am anxious about Gracepoint. I want to like it, due to the cast, but the Brits just aired their version, Broadchurch , last year, which prompted the impending Fox version.

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Life on Mars US was complete shit and underscores that not everything can be adapted. TPTBs completely missed the point. 

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Life on Mars US was complete shit and underscores that not everything can be adapted. TPTBs completely missed the point. 

 

I never saw the British version, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought the US version was decent - well, right up to that truly bizarre ending.

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Watch the UK version. It's only 16 hours. It's not the best thing ever, but I think it toes the line of classic.

It definitely proves that not all shows can be adapted. Or should.

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After the initial dismay when an adaptation of LoM was announced, it was sort of fun to imagine what the US versions of some of the UK bits would be. What city would replace Manchester? What could take the place of Test Card Girl? Who would take Nelson's place? What music would be used? Could '70s era US decor outdo  the hideousness of '70s era UK wallpaper?

 

But then it came on and everything was just...wrong. The relationships, which were crucial, were skewed and screwed. NYC was the most wrong choice of location possibly except LA. The adaptation had none of the charm and fun of the original.

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Life on Mars US was complete shit and underscores that not everything can be adapted. TPTBs completely missed the point.

 

Oh, I disagree and if any show called for an adaptation it was a show about changing cultural views and attitudes towards authority. I thought Life on Mars was a show that demanded an American version and they got there with episodes about the legacy of the civil rights movement and the growing gay rights movement. It wasn't perfect, Gene should have been rewritten once cast and that new ending really didn't work but Life on Mars was the easiest show to argue for an adaptation.

 

Let's just be glad ABC had the wisdom not to go with David E Kelley's wacky take on it.

 

In hindsight, I think Coupling was badly timed. We were just at the rise of the bro-comedy and in hindsight Moffat's lucky his cast kept him from making the original into a bro-com with Steve's rants (in hindsight we probably should give Sarah Alexander more credit). Though the biggest issues was that they never found anyone who could play Jeff.

Edited by Wax Lion
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I'm anxiously awaiting HBO's remake of Utopia. If anyone can remake it it's them. I kind of hope they make it a loose adaptation, though, I'm just not sure they could (or should) try and surpass the superb original.

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I am terrified of the American remake of "Les Revenants" (or "The Returned.") it's sort of a zombie show that isn't really a zombie show, and the original French series was masterfully done and I can't wait for the second season. I just know they will fuck it up on A&E.

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I found the American version of Being Human to be an improvement on the original. The original is one of the frew shows I'd name (along with In the Flesh) as showing the problem with British short seasons. I thought the pacing on BHUK was off, they probably had enough episodes for the big story arcs but they also did standalone episodes that felt off because of the pacing of the story arc episodes were so brisk... and then they stopped for a week.

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The Prisoner- The original was big concept-high symbolism about a man striving to live free in an increasingly autocratic society where your identity was stripped away and every move you made was carefully watched. It's something that you actually could have adapted for the 21st century and its world of surveillance cameras everywhere and post-9/11 paranoia and had a result that was true to Patrick McGoohan's original vision. But the producers of the show didn't want to work with McGoohan, who drove the original version to be what it was, and the result was a mess that totally whiffed at whatever the heck it was trying to be.

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I liked the American office better. And I do think there needed to be an adaptation because work is just very different here than there. People move around more, we don't have the dole, etc etc. I liked Jim and Pam and I michael, too.

I enjoyed the British series but just not as much.

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It's something that you actually could have adapted for the 21st century and its world of surveillance cameras everywhere and post-9/11 paranoia and had a result that was true to Patrick McGoohan's original vision.

 

This is the problem with most adaptations. TPTBs regularly just don't "get" the original to the point I have to ask, why are they adapting the show? 

 

I think it's more that there's a ready made property that people know somewhat, rather than wanting to explore the show concept for a contemporary audience. 

 

It's the reason why there's so many comic book movies, or Star Trek. 

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I really like the American version of Antiques Roadshow. Been watching it for years. Nice to see all of the different items people bring in to be appraised, same with the British version. Both are good shows in their own right.

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Just in case anyone thinks that shows migrating from one country to another is a new phenomenon, it's been going on at least since the early 1950's with What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret.

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Gracepoint is "the best new drama this fall." Except it's not, because it's not a new show. I bet they change the whole murder anyway to sanitize the original too. 

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Gracepoint is "the best new drama this fall." Except it's not, because it's not a new show. I bet they change the whole murder anyway to sanitize the original too. 

 

I would bet only a few people of the small number of people who will tune into Gracepoint (it will be on opposite Scandal and whatever crap CBS is airing) know, care or have seen the original.  I know certain critics going on how the original is better is doing the UK version no favors in my eyes.

 

I liked Being Human USA better than the "superior" UK version.  I thought seasons 2 and 3 were pretty interesting stuff for a show on SyFy of all places.

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I don't really care if people don't know. It's still not a new show. It's not like "oh this is a rip of True Detective because it's a show about two detectives investigating a single case." The same actor is playing the same role even. Every article about the show says something about the original as it is. 

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The resolution of the mystery in Gracepoint will be changed, I think I read, but only so that those of who watched Broadchurch won't be spoiled.

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When I watched the original, the first thing I said was, 'there's no way this would fly on a USA show.' So I think it was primarily motivated by USA television and network demands, but of course you have to change the ending because it's the *same show* with the same lead character. I don't really care if it turns out to be the best thing on television. At the least, I hope more people become fans of DT. It's just not an original show. 

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It's still not a new show.

It is a new show, though. A new show that’s based off another show, but it’s still a new show in and of itself. New doesn't have to be synonymous with original. Something can be a new movie/show that’s a remake of an older movie/show. 

Edited by galax-arena
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We're going to go in circles on this one. It's not a new show. By definition, it's an adaption of Broadchurch. The term "reboot" was invented to get around this. Again, the same actor is playing the same character and investigating the same murder in basically the same setting. 

 

If you're looking at a show, and saying, "hey, let's make that show." Then you aren't making a new show. You're adapting an existing property. 

 

Better this than more crap reality tv, but it's not new.

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Can I change things up a little bit?  As a Canadian, I don't know why Canada feels the need to do a version of every American reality show out there.  They failed with Canadian Idol.  But now we have the Amazing Race, The Bachelor, Masterchef.  Just waiting now for the inevitable Survivor Canada taking place on Baffin Island (no offense meant to any residents). 

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As far as I know (I only watch TAR) few of those shows originated in the US and are international franchises.  There are British versions, Australian versions and more.  No reason Canadian TV shouldn't benefit or suffer, depending on your POV, with the rest of the known world.  Someone must be confident those shows will make money here.

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I'm with Irishmaple on this one, Love. Canadian famewhores have just as much right to debase themselves on national television as American ones do.

(And before you think I'm trying to make fun of reality show contestants, you should know that if I wasn't just on the wrong side of their cutoff age, and I didn't have to spend a good $600 minimum to travel to audition, I would've probably been part of Canadian Idol's first-week montage of horrible, horrible auditions.)

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It is a new show, though. A new show that’s based off another show, but it’s still a new show in and of itself. New doesn't have to be synonymous with original. Something can be a new movie/show that’s a remake of an older movie/show. 

 

From all the previews it looks like they're doing the same murder investigation with the same basic characters and every preview I've seen has them saying the same dialogue just with American accents. To me, that's not new, that's recycling.  Doesn't mean it will be inherently bad, I'm just not sure what the point is exactly.

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From all the previews it looks like they're doing the same murder investigation with the same basic characters and every preview I've seen has them saying the same dialogue just with American accents. To me, that's not new, that's recycling.

Like a shot-for-shot remake? Yeah, I don't see the point of that either, honestly. Felt the same way about 2007's Funny Games movie. Technically, I think it still qualifies as new - the story itself is recycled and derivative, but the actual show itself is new* - so I wouldn't argue with media describing the show as "new" just as I didn't care about it in 2007 when people called the Funny Games movie new. But I don't disagree that it's pointless lol! My earlier comment wasn't meant as a defense of the show, which I know nothing about. I just thought that getting on the media's case for calling it "new" wasn't on, but YMMV. 

 

* I mean, I think we're just arguing semantics at this point. 

Edited by galax-arena

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Like a shot-for-shot remake?

 

EW says that it "is often a shot for shot replica of the 2013 British smash Broadchurch." 

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Just in case anyone thinks that shows migrating from one country to another is a new phenomenon, it's been going on at least since the early 1950's with What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret.

I did not know this! Thank you for teaching me something. I thought the trend of adapting British shows began in the early 1970's, with All in the Family, followed soon afterward by Sanford and Son and Three's Company. I've never seen anything of the British originals for the latter two, but I've read some of the scripts from Till Death Us Do Part, the British AitF. I must say I like the American version of the working class family better. The characters aren't as stridently one-note. I get annoyed by the assumption that "foreign = high quality" and that Americans are too dumb to get what was good about a foreign original.

 

I've never seen the British The Office or any of the other supposedly superior British originals. But then, I've never really gotten into Britcoms, no offense to anyone. I just like the familiar American settings and pop culture references. One thing I think is a good idea is making the series a limited run from the outset, instead of letting it go on year after year after year. There's something to be said for going out on top instead of resorting to increasingly ridiculous/repetitive storylines. 

 

I quite enjoyed the American Life on Mars. But if you say the British version is even better, I'll have to have a look. 

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EW says that it "is often a shot for shot replica of the 2013 British smash Broadchurch."

 

As was Shameless in the first few episodes.  Both suffered from casting:  Gracepoint is missing Olivia Colman, and on Shameless, William H. Macy is a colorless husk compared to David Threlfall.

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Anna Gunn is different but I thought she showed the same potential for greatness. It's hard to judge right now, because I've seen a full season of Colman (combined with the thrill of seeing her in a non-comedic role) while there's only one episode of Gunn.

 

But in the battle of Shameless remakes, I prefer Macy. I was always frustrated that Threlfall had a natural charisma that made it too easy to overlook how terrible Frank's actions were. Macy's Frank is unforgettably awful, even though there are moments where you see why someone who doesn't have a history with him, might get drawn into his schemes.

 

That said, I've come to prefer the UK shameless. The US version gets too grim, I like that the UK version became a comedic soap, especially once the Maguires took over.

 

ETA: But even at the beginning the US Shameless was different. Most notably, the Ian/Kash storyline was handled differently (Kash is mostly pathetic this time), while Ian's interactions with Mandy and Mickey were written with a knowledge that the characters might have future roles. Since the original creator was heavily involved, that first season was a chance to see how he would do that first season differently, since this was his chance to do that.

Edited by Wax Lion

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As far as I know (I only watch TAR) few of those shows originated in the US and are international franchises.  There are British versions, Australian versions and more.  No reason Canadian TV shouldn't benefit or suffer, depending on your POV, with the rest of the known world.  Someone must be confident those shows will make money here.

For reality shows that are considered the "leaders"/most popular, it's probably actually about 50/50--so "few" is a relative term probably.

TAR, The Apprentice, The Bachelor (we should not be proud of that one), Top Chef, the Next Top Model franchise, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Biggest Loser are all of American origin.

Survivor, The Voice, The Idol shows, Big Brother, Dancing With The Stars, Hell's Kitchen, the "Got Talent" franchise, and Masterchef all originated elsewhere.

If you toss in the second-tier shows like Chopped, Face Off, Best Ink, etc. it skews it a little more in the American direction.

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And in fairness, in recent years Canadian reality shows generally ARE better than their American counterparts. Sure, excessive product placement, but that's no different to the American versions these days.

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Switching over to telenolvela adaptations, Jane the Virgin, the adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela that I've never seen, is very good.  Right up there with the best pilots of the season (yes, I was surprised too) and the second episode was just as good or better.  You just have to be impressed with a show snarky enough to make XOXO  

XXX O! O! O!

smutty (take that Gossip Girl).  Its been picked up for the full season.

 

Its going to be tough for it to go multiple seasons without running out of steam like Ugly Betty but I was thinking that it might be time to go the American Horror Stories route (same cast, writers, different story each season) with telenovelas developed for the US.

Edited by ParadoxLost

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NBC is going to try again with a remake of The IT Crowd. I watched the original pilot starring Joel McHale, and just wasn't as funny. I don't know who will be cast this time, or even if Richard Ayoade will be cast again to play Moss.

 

Also, ABC is looking at remaking Moone Boy.

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Also, ABC is looking at remaking Moone Boy.

Hell no.  There's no way they don't ruin this.

 

Here's an idea, ABC.  Just buy the rights to the original and AIR it.  It's great already (and not so "foreign" it should scare people, as horribly sheltered as Americans are).

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Its going to be tough for it to go multiple seasons without running out of steam like Ugly Betty but I was thinking that it might be time to go the American Horror Stories route (same cast, writers, different story each season) with telenovelas developed for the US.

 

There was a short-lived attempt at making a telenovela anthology series... ish. Fox was planning to syndicate two telenovelas under the name "Desire" and... er, something else (it's confusing since the first "Desire" novela was called "Desire" but there was never a show named after the other umbrella title) but then the CW happened and suddenly a lot of UPN and WB affiliates were left open so those two telenovelas were bundled into MyNetwork TV. They were straight-on adaptations, from what I understand and the quality varied as they tried to figure out the model.

 

Meanwhile, USA finally ordered a pilot for "Queen of the South." They've been trying to sell that one to a US channel for years as a female-led Breaking Bad. Since the show was described as being about a Mexican woman hiding out in the US after her boyfriend is killed by the mob, I get the impression they want to slice up the original novela so that different arcs are turned into seasons.

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Here's an idea, ABC.  Just buy the rights to the original and AIR it.  It's great already (and not so "foreign" it should scare people, as horribly sheltered as Americans are).

 

Why would they do that?  The goal is to make money off the shows.  Even if a show fails, there's still potential to make a profit from selling Blu-rays, digital distrubution and selling the rights to air overseas.  They're not just remaking these so-called quality and superior shows because they think Americans are too dumb and uninterested in hearing foreign accents.

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That's what pisses me off. Adaptations are really adapting anything as much as they are a rip off of the original property in a blatant cash grab. It's got nothing to do with a new pov on the concept. That doesn't even cross their minds. 

 

I mean, look at Broadchurch. It's literally the same actor playing the same character. And mostly shot for shot. I'd rather see something completely new, even if it flames out.

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That's what pisses me off. Adaptations are really adapting anything as much as they are a rip off of the original property in a blatant cash grab. It's got nothing to do with a new pov on the concept. That doesn't even cross their minds.

I mean, look at Broadchurch. It's literally the same actor playing the same character. And mostly shot for shot. I'd rather see something completely new, even if it flames out.

Well there are always exceptions. I actually think the American versions of Shameless and Being Human are better then the British Versions once you gor past the initial season. Gracepoint for whatever reason made too much of a copy of the original even casting the same actor for the lead. The only difference was the stupid "twist" at the end. Of course everyone who saw both was going to compare the hell out of it. I am just curious what the second season of Gracepoint would have been? I did however like Anna Gunn. Oh well. Edited by Chaos Theory
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Something I have kind of noticed, when it comes to British to American TV adaptations, is that they tend to work out better when they are about a specific cultural subculture or issue, that can be both broad, and culturally specific. They don't work when its just a topic that can be applied to anyone. Like, the reason shows like Coupling or The Inbetweeners didn't work was because they were basically pointless. Friends hanging around is pretty much universal. They were mostly just inferior copies of the original. It wasn't just that they weren't the original, its just that they didn't bring anything new to the table. You could do versions of them in every country in the world. 

 

The more successful adaptations, tend to be about really specific things like The Office (office politics) Shameless (poverty) or Veep (the national government. And I know Veep isn't technically a remake of The Tick of It, but its its spiritual successor). They take experiences that were specifically British, and made them specific to the US. It helped give those shows an original flavor, so it didn't feel like you were watching the exact same show, but with different accents. They used their specific Britishness to become specific Americannes, which made them not feel like carbon copies, but allows audiences to enjoy both as separate things.

 

At least, that's something I have kind of theorized.  

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