Our TV relationship with America may seem to be all one way traffic (their way), but good ol’ Blighty has been known to provide fodder for the US Networks. Take the BBC’s Till Death Us Do Part. Well, the Yanks certainly did. The 1960s/70s comedy classic featuring the iconic Alf Garnett was reworked in the US as All In The Family. Alf turned into Archie Bunker and Spinal Tap/When Harry Met Sally’s Rob Reiner played the liberal son-in-law (played by Tony Blair’s father-in-law Tony Booth in the British version). Very popular it was too.
Then there was Sanford and Son (a US 1970s version of our Steptoe and Son) starring comedy legend Redd Foxx, one of the men who inspired Richard Pryor. Two other acclaimed shows with American versions include Queer As Folk and The Office. Take a trip over the pond and you’ll find the likes of: Celebrity Fit Club, Supernanny, What Not To Wear, Strictly Come Dancing (entitled Dancing With The Stars in the US), Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Faking It and Wife Swap (Trading Spouses is the American version).
But it doesn’t always work out. The US version of Cracker, starring the late character actor Robert Pastorelli, was less successful. That’s what you get when you water down everything that makes Cracker so great in the first place. Also barely making an impact were the likes of Men Behaving Badly and The Ropers (based on George & Mildred). But doggone it, if our cousins aren’t trying again. This time with a retooling of Life On Mars. Dublin-born, US-based actor Colm Meaney has been in final talks to star in the pilot episode. He’d take the role played by the brilliant Philip Glenister in the original BBC series. Irish actor Jason O’Mara has already signed up to take on the fantastic John Simm’s character Sam Tyler, the modern-day detective who finds himself back in 1972.
I’d be very interested to watch the resulting US series and I really hope one of our channels picks it up. It is being produced by David E. Kelley, the man who gave us L.A. Law, Chicago Hope, Boston Legal and Ally McBeal, to name a few. The ABC network will screen it stateside, which doesn’t bode well for the grittier elements so synonymous with Life On Mars. Will they allow ‘good’ characters to smoke? Will they screen the racial abuse of fellow police officers, in addition to that of criminals? Will there be misogyny? In other words, will they have the balls to do the show justice on Network TV? We’ll see…I hope.
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Today I am mostly lovin’ – ITV4 for their reruns of The Professionals ("Cover me!"). Bodie and Doyle running around in their Capris, eyeing up the ‘birds’ and smashing the life out of their enemies. Why don’t we make shows like this anymore?
Today I am mostly hatin’ – The X Factor’s inclusion of contestants who are clearly a sandwich or two short of a picnic. Uncomfortable viewing; who’s selecting these people?