TV Adaptations – Our Favorite Hits and Misses
Do you already miss Breaking Bad? Good news for you – you might be able to find a way to watch the Latin American remake, which was just announced. The series, which will be called Metastasis, follows the story of a chemistry teacher who is given a fatal diagnosis and enters a world of drugs and crime. The chemistry teacher’s name? Walter Blanco.
One thing the world has in common is the art of adaptation – that is, if something makes it big in one country, others are soon to follow. Sometimes adaptations can find their audience, and be quite a hit. Other times, disaster can strike. We’ve even seen countries copying themselves years later (cough cough – 90210) to try and gain a fan base of older people who loved the original, and younger people who might not realize it’s not original.
Here are a few memorable hits and misses we’ve seen throughout the last few years.
Kath & Kim
In 2008, NBC decided to take a stab at remaking Kath & Kim, which started out as a successful Australian sitcom. Created by Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who also write and act in the original show, Kath & Kim was originally a weekly segment of the Australian comedy series Fast Forward before turning into a full series in 2002. Unfortunately, the US remake wasn’t as successful. Even though the remake starred Selma Blair and Molly Shannon, the San Francisco Chronicle called the US pilot episode “a contender for worst remake ever”.
The I.T. Crowd
Chris O’Dowd fans will be familiar with this one. As well as those of you who have Netflix, since the show has been quite prominent in many of my “categories” forever. The comedy premiered on Channel 4 in February of 2006 ,and ran for four series of 6 episodes each. Although a fifth series was commissioned, the crew decided to make a long, feature-length episode instead.
After seeing how successful it was, the United States decided to try out their own version of the show. A pilot episode was filmed in January 2007, and a full series was ordered and advertised by NBC to be aired in the 2007-2008 television schedule. The show was going to star Joel McHale, and had a majority of its scripts written before NBC Chairman Ben Silverman claimed the series “didn’t quite spark” and cancelled it.
The United States wasn’t the only country to fail with The I.T. Crowd – Germany also had a version called Das iTeam – Die Jungs an der Maus that was dropped after their first episode aired online to negative reviews.
Remember seeing scandalous ads for this teen show on MTV? It was actually a remake of a British show that featured teenagers from Bristol, South West England. Running for years, the show rolled over its cast members as the series progressed – and became so popular that the United States tried airing a version of it in 2011 which mimicked the format of the original, and utilized amateur actors and young writers. Unfortunately, the new version lasted just a season. Many critics panned it for its sexual content, and some even accused the US version of featuring child pornography, as a few of its cast members were under 18 years old. Gross!
In June of that same year, MTV released a statement saying that the show wouldn’t be renewed, and admitted that it “didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped.”
In 2000, Scottish television writer Steven Moffat released Coupling on British television, which focused on the dating life of six friends in their thirties. The show was briefly based on his own relationships, and had the honor of winning “Best TV Comedy” at the 2003 British Comedy Awards.
Three years later, the US tried their hardest to make a new version of Coupling – and probably figured it’d do quite well, based on its international success, as well as the success of ensemble-comedy Friends. Unfortunately, they were dead wrong. And, this is pretty hilarious…
The show did so poorly that when the UK went to air the US version, they bought commercial time that promised viewers that a British version would air right after the American equivalent episode, so that viewers could see instantly just how superior the original was.
This might have been the last year of the BBC’s supernatural drama Being Human, but it didn’t end due to lack of popularity. While the show had plenty of staff shakeups throughout its 37 episodes, it was known for being one of the most popular shows on BBC’s iPlayer.
It wasn’t long before others wanted to get in on its success – pretty soon, a North American version aired on Space in Canada and Syfy in the US in 2011.
Luckily, the show seemed to have an audience – this past April, Syfy announced that they were renewing Being Human for a fourth season, with 13 episodes set to air.
America’s Next Top Model
I’m going to be a huge dork, and admit to all of you that I’ve watched a heck of a lot of Top Model in my time. I saw the shaky first season (and own it on DVD – yes, not much else needs to be said about that) and was a pretty sturdy fan until I got frustrated over the fact that my favorites never ended up winning. I still hold a grudge that Kahlen didn’t dominate over Naima in Cycle 4… and that was 16 cycles ago.
Yet I’m not alone, since the series was among the highest-rated program on UPN (when it was still a network) and was the highest-rated show on The CW from 2007 to 2010.
The Top Model format has been adapted for numerous national and regional versions around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Thailand, and Peru. This could only mean two things: Tyra Banks had a heck of an idea, and Tyra Banks has made a ton of money based on her idea. Who knows. Maybe one day “Tyra Banks” will take over Wells Fargo.
I’m sorry for that failure of a joke.
We shall end with The Office, which might be one of the best known recent adaptations. Created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the original concept of this documentary-style sitcom first aired in the UK in 2001. The show didn’t air for half as long as its US counterpart, but each episode was quite strong. All in all, two six-episode seasons were made, along with a pair of 45-minute Christmas specials.
The original Dunder Mifflin was known as Wernham Hogg, and the original used David Brent (played by Gervais) to be the eventual model of Michael Scott.
The US version aired in 2005, and eventually won several awards – including four Primetime Emmy Awards, one of which was for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2006. When the spin-off hit England, the show was titled The Office: An American Workplace in order to differentiate itself from the original – and ironically, that’s the title the US show ended up using for the “finished documentary” that aired during its last season.
Do you have a favorite adaptation that’s missing from the list?
Image Credits: justjared.com (featured), fanpop.com (Kath & Kim, ANTM), bleedingcool.com (IT Crowd), bbc.co.uk (Coupling)