Dear TV Executives of the United States of America,

Last night my TV showed me a sneak peak of the US version of "Life On Mars", and what do I notice? I notice the same thing I've noticed about all other US remakes. You keep the same characters. You keep the plot. All you've done is swap out the original cast and crew and locale for American equivalents.

For the love of God, WHY BOTHER? Is it some bizarre employment ploy, to make sure your actors and entertainment personnel always have a job? Do you think, if you recast it as American and broadcast it louder and longer than the original show, you and everyone else will be able to pretend you wrote this show all by yourselves, and first?

Please, just stop. You are so much better than this. Firefly, Arrested Development, Scrubs, The West Wing, and more, all prove you really have the chops needed to produce first-rate TV. You don't have to appropriate a good show and translate it for your populace; they're smarter than that. Truly.

the girl who has to sit through your remakes choking up her scant TV channels at the expense of new, original content

4 thoughts on “remakes

  1. Can't agree more. Somethings cannot be 'remade'. Life on Mars is one of them along with Hancock, Noggin the Nog and Dr. Who. At the same time I doubt British TV will ever come close to recapturing 'West Wing' in any attempted remake. The two political cultures are too dissimilar. What's the old adage? 'If if aint broke don't fix it.' The original Life on Mars is a gem.

  2. I actually talked with someone a few weeks ago who, in regards to The Office, was amazed to find out there was an earlier, British show. Luckily, I got them to watch it and thus discover the wonders of Ricky Gervais.

    I do hope that you guys were spared the American version of Coupling. I still sputter just thinking about it.

    And sadly, I hate to tell you — many Americans simply won't watch furrin stuff. The accents are funny! Eeek!

  3. One of the primary reasons good, complex shows don't tend to do well on television is that the average viewer would much rather be watching game shows and reality tv (as a lot of execs realized during the writers' strike). Also, complexity is an expensive risk to take. Also, just importing a show brings with it a sackload of licensing problems that a domestic retread wouldn't have. Also, most Americans would probably be alienated by the strange accents and cultural aphorisms.

    The thinking, as I conclude, is "Show x made a lot of money in Britain. If we just copy it, make it American so Americans will watch it, we don't have to waste a lot of overhead in developing original concepts in case it fails, then we'll make a lot of money, too!"

  4. Also, most Americans would probably be alienated by the strange accents and cultural aphorisms.

    See, this just drives me insane. Maybe it's because I was raised in Australia, which is not exactly what you'd call a world power, so it's natural to me that there are cultures out there that are different from mine and I should learn about them and accept them, not try to translate them or ignore them in the hopes they'll come to their senses. (In fact, it kind of skews a bit too far the other way for me: an Australian accent in a TV show breaks my brain. If all the cast is Aus, I don't notice it, but an Australian actor in a US show…? Gives me twitches every time they speak. I really don't like my accent.)

    Still, I've spoken with enough Americans individually to know this is another one of those "the public" is not necessarily the same as the mass of individuals it represents issues. (ugh, what a dreadful sentence. forgive me!)

    the writers' strike

    The writer-geek within me wants to giggle and award you punctuation points for getting the plural possessive right. Of course, you're a writer too, so it's no surprise, but I can't tell you the number of times I've seen it reported as the writer's strike.

    @Gregory: I think we were spared the remake of Coupling, but I think that was only because the original version barely aired here. Rest assured, we see more episodes of the American version of The Office than of the British version. (Weep for us, for we must suffer through ALL YOUR TV. ALL OF IT. ON ENDLESS REPEAT.)

    @Mike: Hello! Welcome to the blog! Good point you make – I hate to think what the UK would produce if they tried to remake The West Wing. Which is no slur on British TV. Life On Mars was fantastic, and I am eagerly awaiting Ashes To Ashes (if I'm remembering the sequel's name correctly). Also, Doctor Who? Totally made of win, always has been. Not to mention Black Books (which, er, was partly Irish, technically…)!

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