Two pop culture addicts' snarky musings…

Posts tagged ‘television’

British People Talk Funny and Other Reasons Why We Think We Need to Redo Their TV Shows

As you may or may not have noticed from our blog and our twitter rampages, your faithful blog hostess’ are more than slightly addicted to British television shows. In light of the recent influx of American remakes of British hits, we felt a little compare and contrast might be in order as well as a few musings on why we can’t just watch the original.

“Britain and America are two nations divided by the same language.” ~ attributed to Oscar Wilde

In the past decade, there have been more than a handful of American remakes of British hits that have taken off in America – the most successful of which is American Idol. We took the solid smash Pop Idol and beefed it up America style to be a television black hole that has kept people glued to their television sets for months every spring for nearly a decade. We had our fair share of reality competitions pre-Idol, but the unprecedented popularity of Simon Fuller’s creation set forth a snowballing chain of reality competition shows that might otherwise never have been born. Not sure whether to so say ‘thanks’ or get pitchforks and torches for that contribution…

The next recent smash, rumored to be headed for a possible series finale at the end of its current season, is The Office. Ricky Gervais created and starred in the version aired in Britain in 2001. The show ran for just two 6 episode seasons, though it made an impression big enough to spawn not only the American version, but half of a dozen other international versions as well. Currently in its eighth season (possibly final) season, the American version of The Office did what Americans do best: take a good thing and beat every ounce of profitability by making it even more obnoxious than the original. I say this from a place of love because I am a HUGE fan of this show, but really, no Steve Carrell = no show. Let’s send it off into that great green room in the sky with the exit of Michael Scott and move on to something else.

Cast of Showtime's Shameless

One of my favorite British guilty pleasure shows, and arguably the one that really hooked me on Brit TV in the first place, is the quirky, ironic, crazy comedy Shameless. Ok, truth: I started watching the British version right after I discovered James McAvoy and promptly stopped watching once he left the show halfway through season two. It doesn’t impugn the quality or character of the show; I’m just keepin’ it real. The American version of Shameless just started a few weeks ago on Showtime (Sunday, 10pm) starring William H. Macy (I’ll save my epic love for ever did that casting job at another time because KUDOS) as the drunk, lazy father to a blended bunch of maladjusted children headed by the lovely and talented (and surprisingly edgy) Emmy Rossseum. Comparing these two versions of the show actually illustrates a fundamental cultural difference between our two worlds: irony is completely lost on Americans. If the producers of the Showtime version had tried to directly translate this show for an American audience, it would barely have lasted one night because the sheer absurdity of the British version would turn even the most cultured viewer off. So they added a little Chicago grit, sprinkled in a considerable helping of gratuitous sex (which is saying something because people get laid A LOT in the original), and slowed the story down to a speed even the most hung over late night TV watcher can handle. Detrimental to the essence of the show? Nah, but if I had to pick between them, I’d go with the Showtime version if only to watch the idiotic son-in-law from Reba smoke pot and hit people.

The two most recent additions to this influx of remakes (other than Shameless), MTV’s Skins and SyFy’s Being Human, translated into this world with a bite and bang (pun intended). I can’t speak to the quality or lack there of or anything in between of either version of Skins. What I will say is this: our remarkable innately American ability to demand sex in our programming while maintaining a prudish moral stance has gotten to an exhausting and useless point. This is just a step up from my generation’s naughty late night MTV show Undressed. Here’s a little food for thought: if you don’t want your kids watching teenagers having sex start by not letting them watch MTV in the first place. Moving along…

Top: US Being Human Cast, Bottom: UK Being Human Cast

Part of me wishes I would have let sleeping wolves lie and not watched the British version of Being Human – because I like it better than the American version and I was not prepared for that. I mean, we have Buffy, Angel, Vampire Diaries, True Blood and a whole other slew of fangtastic television shows; how could theirs possibly be better? Oh, but it is. Not so much better that I don’t still follow the American version, but enough so that I can say if I had to choose it would be no contest. One thing American supernatural shows tend to do across the board is drown in their own mythology. The point of Being Human is that these characters have moved beyond lore and are trying to be, well, human. I have to give the new show props for trying to not be so much a copy of the original show, but another parallel situation involving different characters and a different culture. My only worry in the few episodes that have aired thus far is that it may be headed down the JJ Abrams rabbit hole of overly complicated and soul-sucking mythological detail. Pray to the Buffy gods that they get wise up before we end up with a Halloween version of Lost.

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better…

So what else are we in the process of importing? I’ll hit the highlights.

Being Erica: Ok, so technically this isn’t a British show – this is a Canadian show. Yet we still feel the need to have our own version. Being Erica is the endearing, unique tale of Erica Strange and her exploits in a method of mystical therapy where she gets to relive pivotal moments of her life. Currently set in Toronto, the show airs on SoapNET in the US. However, with SoapNET’s imminent demise, ABC (sister channel to SoapNET) announced they are working on a US version of the show, written by Once & Again scribe Maggie Friedman. While I appreciate the sensibility she will bring to the project, should we start down this slippery slope with Canadians too? After all, they’re just like us, but with health care and better breeding. I’ll watch under protest, but I just don’t see anyone being as perfect at being Erica as Erin Karpluk.

Torchwood: If you want to hear all about this one, check out Sarah’s previous blog here. I don’t watch and couldn’t even begin to do this debate justice.

You Talk Funny, but I Love You Anyway…

Two shows in my British repertoire have endured without crossing the Atlantic: Primeval and Merlin. I write this section both as a love letter and as a warning to any American producers who might be thinking about taking over either of these shows. There are a thousand versions of the Arthur legend on TV, in movies, in novels, etc, which is probably why there isn’t a need for this to have a US version. For one thing, it takes place in Britain, so what’s the point of remaking a show for an American audience with British actors (or American actors with bad accents)? Plus, BBC and Showtime are already working on another version of the myth to be broadcast on Showtime later this year. The other accented love of my life is Primeval, which is basically Land of the Lost meets Fringe. Partially because it has a HUGE budget due to the large amounts of CGI in each episode and partly because of the massive suspension of disbelief required to follow along (no one else outside of the UK knows about the anomalies and they only ever appear in and around London…right), I think it’s pretty safe to assume it will stay a British morsel for good. Not to mention there does not exist an American version of Andrew-Lee Potts. Yum.

Anything anyone wants to add to my tirade? What are your favorite shows from the land of crumpets? Any you’d love to see brought over?

A Love Letter to the Week of November 8th

I’m going to make this week’s preview very simple – this is the best week in television ever. Of course, that’s debatable and maybe that’s just the opinion of your humble bloggers, Mel and Sarah, but I stand behind that statement.

Up first is Glee and the unveiling of a new gay boy in the form of Darren Criss, who is ridiculously adorable. If you don’t believe me, watch this awesome version of “Teenage Dream” and call me a liar.

Making its triumphant Fall return fresh off a sixth season renewal announcement is my favorite show ever, Psych. And, why might you ask, is this week particularly amazing? That would be because not only is Carey Elwes back to conclude the tale of Pierre Despereaux, but my sources tell me we may finally get the Shawn/Juliet coupledom we’ve all been waiting for. I’m a total shipper at heart – sue me. Watch a preview of the hilarity below when Shawn practices his Juliet speech on McNabb.

Oh, an on a side note, Psych-os, Club Psych on the USA website is wicked addicting and my new favorite time waster.

And finally, to cap the greatness off this week, is Merlin. Not just any Merlin though, a Gwen/Arthur centric episode sure to make me want to rip Morgana apart slowly and cry a little bit when Arthur and Gwen get ripped apart yet again by Uther. Still, yay arthur/gwen.

 

Anybody have anything in particular they’re looking forward to this week? I know Sarah can’t rave enough about Glee so I know she’s excited. Are you?

Weekly Preview – 10/25/2010

No, wait, I’ll say it for you. We suck – we totally suck. Our poor neglected blogverse. All I can say is we’re sorry and we’ll try hard not to do it again. In a week, NaNoWriMo starts and you’ll be even more amused/frustrated by us. And if you don’t know what that is, google it peeps.

If it’s any consolation, I spent the day being yelled at by residents who can’t seem to figure out their water bills, went straight from work to the liquor store, to Starbuck’s, came straight in and sat down to write this. So it’s technically the first thing I’ve done since I got home. In any event, let’s get to pre-Halloween programming shall we?

Monday – Taylor Swift‘s new album, Speak Now, drops today. I love her and I don’t care what anyone else thinks so 😛 Ahem…if you’re more into hot boys and sunshine, check out Hawaii Five-0 tonight, which welcomes guest star Kevin Sorbo (aka Hercules for those of you playing the home game) to it’s shores tonight.

Kurt as Riff Raff

Tuesday – Get ready to bring your knees in tight and get ready to do the time warp with the cast of Glee as they take on Rocky Horror. As with all things Glee these days, it could either be awesomely bad or just bad so let’s hope they got the awesome memo. In preparation, watch the movie and then watch Tim Curry‘s guest spot on Psych…mostly because it’s hilarious and I’m watching it now.

Wednesday – You should have a standing appointment with ABC’s Modern Family, but in case you’re on the fence, the Dunphy’s take on the tradition of the haunted house and Cameron hates Halloween because of a traumatic childhood experience…which seems fitting because he dresses up all the other days of the year so he’s earned a day off.

Thursday – The Vampire Diaries has been on fire this season with twist after heart wrenching, jaw dropping twist. Given that this weeks episode is set in the midst of a masquerade ball, the roller coaster is sure to continue.

Friday – So I’ve managed to maintain my boycott of a Smallville without Michael Rosenbaum…until this season reeled it’s super head and I rediscovered its wondrous charm, even if it is a Chloe-less charm. After you watch Tess try to find a cure for her rapidly aging little clone boy, Alexander, keep watching for Supernatural, where supposedly we will finally get some answers as to what the hell is wrong with Sam. He’s just not right…

Ok, back to my Psych marathon I go. New season starts next month so I’m getting…aw, hell, psyched. Chocolate pudding here I come!

Weekly Preview – 10/10/10

Okay, so I swear there is going to be more on the blog than the preview and the review…in fact, between Sarah and I, we have a hand full of movie reviews coming and I’m pretty sure if this season of Glee keeps going the way it has been (Nitrous induced Britney Spears hallucinations? Oh, Glee, please because with all those sharks you’re jumping…) one or both of us will have a fairly lengthy rant about that as well.

On a side note, signing up for three twenty in twenty icontests and an icons one hundred challenge all at the same time may not have been my most brilliant of ideas.

Photo from tvguide.com

John Hickey as Sean and Laura Linney as Cathy in The Big C

*Monday – If you’re not already watching, check out the fabulous Laura Linney in Showtime’s original series The Big C. It’s delightfully funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. Oliver Platt and Gabourey Sidibe are among the serie’s players, both putting in memorable performances – Platt as Linney’s estranged husband who is desperate to win her back and Sidibe as a weight conscious student of Linney’s who befriends her teenage son. Just watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday – The cute blond kid from the football team is finally returning to Glee to take his rightful place amongst the Glee boys as an official member. I don’t know the song list yet, but I do know it’s duets week so hold on to your hats and pray to Ryan Murphey to not let Lea Michele have any solos…On a related note, check out the pre-order for Glee’s Rocky Horror spoof coming up shortly because it promises to be a can’t miss night of television. Also, for my One Tree Hill fans, check out the crossover show this week with Life Unexpected. I love it when they let Bethany sing!

Wednesday – Mythbusters is back for anyone playing the home game. Also, Modern Family. Duh.

Thursday – This one still makes my brain hurt, but the only thing you can’t miss on Thursdays is Vampire Diaries…so so good. Yes, that’s right, Hart Hanson, you get no love this week or any week until Hannah goes back to Iraq and Emily Deschanel remembers how to act.

Friday – Everybody should be watching Supernatural this Friday for the sheer fact that Mr Jensen Ackles is making his directorial debut with Weekend at Bobby’s. Check out the preview below if you need more incentive.

 

Photo from tvguide.com

Merlin and Arthur

Saturday – Apparently, Uther is going to make Arthur marry some awful blond girl with horrible table manners. If nothing else, we’ll probably get some good Gwen/Arthur moments so watch Merlin, peeps.

Anybody have anything else I missed?

Weekly Preview – 10/4/2010

So I’m not so good with the punctuality, hence, my very first preview being what you might call…late. So without further ado, let’s check out what’s happenin’ this week in the world of pop culture.

Monday – I like the way this season of House is progressing, so that’s definitely worth a watch. The must see of Monday night is still Hawaii Five-0. It’s just a delicious blend of snarky, sexy goodness.

New Release Tuesday – If you don’t own it already, or if you’re dazzled by an upgrade from platinum to diamond, buy Beauty and the Beast on Disney Blu-Ray and DVD starting tomorrow. You won’t be sorry because Robby Bensen is sexy (two words: Ice Castles) and because Belle is my hero.

Not a whole lot coming out tomorrow in the way of new music. If you’re an American Idol junkie, Archie aka David Archeleta has a new album coming out tomorrow. Oh, and it’s always Glee day on Tuesday so there’s that…if nothing else, check out Finn’s version of “Losing My Religion”.

Wednesday is my Euchre night so I’m not so much with the TV, but I do take time later on to watch Modern Family, which you should already be watching. Yes, that is the sound of me judging you for not watching.

Thursday – I’m still behind on Fringe, Hart Hanson has managed to write two episodes of Bones in which the characters do nothing but mill around each other and Grey’s Anatomy is lame. Okay, so that leaves…watching Private Practice because even though Grey’s has lost it, Shonda Rhimes is still a genius; watching Vampire Diaries because Nina Dobrev is impressively bipolar playing two characters on the same show and Ian Somerhalder is heartbreaking; and watching Nikita because it’s just good junk food tv.

Friday – Cas is back! This Friday’s episode marks the return of Castiel to the Supernatural scene. Apparently Heaven’s in turmoil and the apocalypse left a few loose ends behind when thwarted. Just watch it.

Saturday is officially Merlin day and there is at least one solid Gwen/Arthur moment in this week’s episode so I am all over it.

Week in Review: 10/2/2010

So it’s a new month, which means Mel and I have switched! Yours truly will now take over the weekly reviews.

Monday: I’m glad that the writers of “House” have kept our favorite sarcastic doctor in character while simultaneously exploring his not-oft-seen softer side and his relationship with Cuddy. It’s also great to see Alyson Stoner in something not related with Disney.

Hawaii Five-0” is still, and looks to always be, a thrill ride. I’m loving the banter between Alex O’Laughlin and Scott Caan, and I love the family relationship between the four main characters. It’s probably the highlight of my Monday night.

Tuesday: My problem with “Glee,” so far is there hasn’t been a lot of direction. Last season you couldn’t go one episode without at least one character (usually Rachel) talking about the importance of an upcoming competition. I think that because the creators have decided to make this season more character-driven (which is overall a great thing) they lose the looming make-it-or-break-it performance to drive the episodes. So far there has been no substance to anything I’ve seen in the episodes aired so far, but it looks like this week might put an end to that.

Raising Hope,” on the other hand is probably the best new comedy of the season so far. This show is hitting all the right notes, be they family relationships or comedic timing. However, I’m not fond of the idea of Sabrina (Shannon Woodward)  having a boyfriend because she clearly likes Jimmy (Lucas Neff) and it’s just going to cause unneeded UST.

Wednesday: I thought I’d miss “Criminal Minds” more, but really I’m not feeling the absence. Maybe it’s because I’ve been gorging myself on the previous seasons’ DVDs during that time slot. “The Defenders” is looking to be a very smart and dramatic show and it’s nice that Jim Belushi hasn’t played his character as just the bumbling but brilliant lawyer, he has a deep side as well.

Thursday: There’s little I can say about “Vampire Diaries” because it’s hard to comment on perfection. Ian Sommerholder is hitting all the right moments with Damon and his struggle with his feelings for the women he can’t have. I am continually impressed by Nina Dobrev’s turn as  Katherine, often forgetting it’s the same actress. This was highlighted when the two characters briefly met onscreen. I’m really looking forward to more.

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot from last week’s “CSI” (I was distracted by outside forces otherwise known as my family) other than the heartbreaking departure of Wendy (Liz Vassey), mainly because her relationship with Hodges wasn’t resolved. We know they wanted to be with each other, they knew it and yet still nothing happened. I love the actress and I really hope she comes back.

Friday: My first ever “live” viewing of “Supernatural” and it was oh so good. Shapeshifting baby! Domestic!Dean! The return of the Impala! It finally felt like the show I quickly fell in love with and I think that episode, coupled with the return of Cas next week, will keep that feeling alive.

Week in Review – 9/25/2010

Ok, so there must be balance in the universe, thus a late Week in Review…all right, all right, I was tired, I have visitors and the blog has a had a lonely, neglected week. But better late than never right?

*I have decided that Jonathan Rhys Myers has the opposite problem of Orlando Bloom – he is a much better actor when he keeps his own accent. That being said, watch From Paris With Love anyway because John Travolta is a total badass in it.

*If you didn’t watch last week’s Hawaii Five-0, you totally missed out. Catch up on Hulu tonight and watch episode 2 tomorrow. You can check out my review in an earlier post if you need more nudging.

*I hate to admit it, but I think I might be getting sucked back into Gossip Girl – despite the epic Chuck/Blair moment in last week’s episode note being all that epic. I’m still a sucker for Chuck Bass though.

*One Tree Hill may be on the verge of jumping the shark with this whole Ghost-esque Clay/Quinn storyline. I can’t watch Clay wander around the hospital pining for another two episodes. On another note, Jamie is the most adorable kid ever and they need to give Brook and Julian a kid before this season is over. Anyone want to put money down now as to whether they’ll be able to get CMM to come back for the finale?

*I’m so happy I can do the Glee dance on Tuesdays again. It just makes my day better knowing that it’s Glee day.

*Modern Family is still the best comedy on TV right now. Can’t get enough Mitch and Cameron.


Season 2

*I remember how much I hate Thursday nights again. I’m STILL trying to catch up on all the premieres. Here are the cliffsnotes – Grey’s was lame and predictable; Private Practice had its moments, though still just a meh episode; Bones was better than I thought, but I still hate what they’re doing to Booth and Brennan; The Mentalist was worth watching just for the few solid Jane/Brisbon moments that were epic; The Office was actually funny again and worth watching just for the random music video ad in the first five minutes; and The Vampire Diaries still continues to be awesome this season with all the heartbreaking Damon moments…is it wrong to want to punch Elena?

*Supernatural finally premiered this  week after what felt like the longest summer break ever…and I have to say it was kind of anticlimactic. Their grandfather and creepy cousins are uber shady and something just isn’t right about Sam.  I did enjoy Bobby’s reaction to Dean showing up on his doorstep and that Lisa called Dean an idiot. The show is still crazy well-written and Jared and Jensen still have chemistry that can’t be bought. I just hope Sera Gamble and pick up the pace. On a semi-related note, I hate when they show things in the preview that don’t end up being in the actual episode.

All right, all. Have agreat week and buy the Glee version of Billionaire on iTunes. I love the new kid. If I were a twelve year old girl, he would so be my type again.

Mel

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