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The Best & Worst of: US TV Remakes

Posted on Monday, 20 August by

As we eagerly await the debut of the US interpretation of the UK’s hugely successful student sitcom, The Inbetweeners, it’s only natural to think back and see how Americans have reincarnated British series in recent years.

Our friends across the pond have a tendency to get it wrong; their version of Absolutely Fabulous didn’t even make it passed the pilot stage, and the upcoming remake of Only Fools And Horses looks to be an absolute travesty, but when they do get it right, and they do try bless ‘em, they can actually produce something pretty damn awesome.

Cast: Sam Witwer as Aiden (Aidan Turner as Mitchell), Meaghan Rath as Sally (Lenora Crichlow as Annie), Sam Huntingdon as Josh (Russell Tovey as George).

What? A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost try to live together and get along.

What happened to it? With two series already behind it the show is set to return in 2012 with a third series. The UK version will be getting a fifth season next year.

Verdict: Really, the US version of Being Human is just the same as ours, but with a few slight differences. Their characters aren’t quite as likeable at first, nowhere near competing with gems like Mitchell, and the dialog seems really watered down. We aren’t fans, but we can see it continuing to do alright.

Cast: Though the characters weren’t carried over to the US version it did have some famous faces; it starred Justin Bartha as Jeff, Sarah Alexander as Alice, Phil Hendrie as Dick, Dean Richmond as Calvin, Kali Rocha as Emma and Sarah Shahi as Tina.

What? A comedy that follows the exploits of school staff both inside and outside of the classroom.

What happened? Teachers US seemed like it would last with Matt Tarses (Scrubs producer) on board, but it didn’t; NBC axed it after six episodes. The original show was excellent, and lasted four seasons.

Verdict? Although it would never have matched the UK original, the two shouldn’t really be compared being as they’re so different, Teachers US was a decent show. Perhaps given a chance it could’ve grown to become something, maybe even running for a few good seasons.

Cast: Bea Arthur as Amanda Cartwright, Fred McCarren as Marty, Simone Griffeth as Arlene, Tony Rosato as Aldo.

What? Amanda, the owner of a struggling hotel ‘Amanda’s By The Sea’, is trying to keep her head above water despite her staff and family seemingly doing their best to drive her under.

What happened to it? Amanda’s was cancelled in May 1983 after a four month run of ten episodes, with three more that remained unaired. Fawlty Towers spanned two series between 1975 and 1979. John Cleese didn’t make any more episodes, but there’s always demand for more.

Verdict? We can’t imagine how bad this must have been, but Bea Arthur (Maude, Golden Girls) may just have made it bearable.

Cast: Steve Carell as Michael Scott (Ricky Gervais as David Brent), John Krasinski as Jim (Martin Freeman as Tim), Jenna Fischer as Pam (Lucy Davis as Dawn), Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute (Mackenzie Crook as Gareth).

What? A mockumentary on a group of typical office workers where the workday consists of ego clashes, inappropriate behavior and tedium.

What happened to it? The US version of The Office has exceeded the popularity of the original, and is around a month off its ninth season. The UK original ran for just two phenomenally successful seasons, and a two-part Christmas special.

Verdict? The US version of The Office is brilliant. Although the first season does seem like a carbon copy of the UK version, the subsequent eight are completely original, and not to mention hilarious.

Cast: Josh Lawson as Ben (Simon Pegg as Tim), Sara Rue as Apryl (Jessica Hynes as Daisy).

What? A pair of strangers pose as a married couple in order to rent an apartment.

What happened to it? Spaced US was shit-canned quite quickly, the main reason being that nobody thought it would even work. The UK version is secured in its reputation as a cult TV classic, it ran for two series.

Cast: Joel McHale as Roy (Chris O’Dowd), Richard Ayoade as Moss, Jessica St. Clair as Jen (Katherine Parkinson).

What? A team of computer geeks work in the IT department of a major company.

What happened to it? The US version was cancelled after just the pilot, while the original was ended in its prime after four seasons.

Verdict? We actually watched the first ten minutes of the US pilot. It was a shot by shot remake and everything seemed rather forced. In other words, it was crap.

Cast: James Newman as Tony (Nicholas Hoult), Ron Mustafa as Abbud (Dev Patel as Anwar), Daniel Flaherty as Stanley (Mike Bailey as Sid), Jesse Carere as Chris (Joe Dempsie), Sofia Black-D’Elia as Tea (Mitch Hower as Maxxie), Rachel Thevenard as Michelle (April Pearson), Camille Cresencia-Miles as Daisy (Larissa Wilson as Jal), Britnie Oldford as Cadie (Hannah Murray as Cassie).

What? A group of teens who are trying to grow up and find love and happiness despite questionable parenting, and teachers who want to be more-than-friends rather than authority figures.

What happened to it? The original Skins is still going, bringing in new groups of kids every couple of years to varying opinion. Skins US was axed, undeservingly, after just one season.

Verdict? The American’s take on Skins just isn’t as good as our original. The characters are, for the most part, weaker and, with no nudity at all, it just isn’t as raunchy as it needed to be. Plot wise both shows are more or less the same, trumping each other in different areas. Really Skins US is just like a badly produced photocopy; it’s the same, but parts are missing, or obscured by too much misplaced ink. MTV’s Skins isn’t a stinker of a remake, it didn’t at all deserve to get the chop, but it was still a bit of a miss.

Cast: Ron Eldard as Kevin (Martin Clunes as Gary), Rob Schneider as Jamie (Neil Morrissey as Tony), Justine Bateman as Sarah (Caroline Quentin as Dorothy), Dina Waters as Brenda (Leslie Ash as Deborah).

What? Kevin and James are two roommates. Kevin is irresponsible and sloppy, but compared to super-slob and slacker Jamie, Kevin looks almost anal-retentive. While both are content to wallow in their immaturity, Kevin must contend with his girlfriend Sara’s attempts to improve him.

What happened to it? The US version was cancelled just six episodes into series two, whilst the original version ran for seven, with a Christmas edition and a couple of comic relief specials.

Verdict? Originally this disgusted us, but after watching a clip, a very short clip mind, we were intrigued, it seemed quite funny.

Cast: William H Macy as Frank Gallagher (David Threlfall), Emma Rossum as Fiona (Anne-Marie Duff), Justin Chatwin as Steve (James McAvoy), Shanola Hampten as Veronica (Maxine Peake), Steve Harvey as Kevin (Dean Lennox Kelly).

What? An alcoholic man lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children with whom he lives cope as best they can.

What happened? Surprisingly, Shameless US is due for its third season next year, with the original so far clocking at nine.

Verdict? Shameless US is just an ugly copy. More or less the same as the UK version, but with better-looking women and more appealing nudity, it just seems watered down.

Cast: Craig Bierko as Dave Cister (Craig Charles), Hinton Battle as The Cat (Danny John-Jules), Chris Eigemen as Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Robert Lewellyn as Kryton, Jane Leeves as Holly (Norman Levett/Hattie Hayridge).

What? The adventures of the last two human beings alive and his friends, stranded three million years into deep space on the mining ship Red Dwarf.

What happened to it? The US version had two cracks at pilots, both of which were rejected. The UK original ran for ten seasons.

Verdict? We didn’t get a chance to see either of the pilots, so perhaps we shouldn’t even comment, but can’t fathom for a moment how the Americans would handle that kind of insanity.

Will The Inbetweeners US be as good as the original? We doubt it. It’ll fall victim to recycled humour and weakened characters but, if our suspicions are correct, it’ll probably end up being a little like Superbad, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Watch this space.

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