With the notable exceptions of The Office and American Idol, American translations of British TV shows do not have the best luck. U.S. remakes of Coupling and Life on Mars didn't last long on the air, and it seems like many attempts at do-overs don't even make it past the pilot stage. Still, NBC has announced that they will remake the British series Prime Suspect, a crime drama about a female police detective played by Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren. Now, it may turn out to be really good, but we don't have high hopes because, without the talented Mirren (who earned two Emmys for the role), it'll just be another murder investigation series, of which there are plenty on American TV already. No, we think it's time the networks followed NBC's lead with Merlin and started broadcasting all of the British series that they're so excited to remake -- after all, most of the lead actors on TV this fall are British, faking American accents, so why not show them in their natural habitats? We've got a list of British shows that deserve wider American viewership, whether it's on the networks or just from the DVDs. It's a small fraction of what's out there, but it's what we like right now. (Disclaimer: Some of these have aired on U.S. cable networks in the past, but hey, so was Prime Suspect, on PBS's Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre.)
Fans of Anthony Head (Buffy, Merlin, Little Britain) will love him as the amoral head of a successful talent agency. It's a black comedy, which means he has his employees poaching clients from a dead agent's funeral.
When superheroes aren't working, or have been suspended, they hang out in the Fortress, a superhero bar where powers are forbidden. This brilliant comic-book parody was made into a pilot for ABC with Freddie Prinze, Jr., but it wasn't picked up.
Dylan Moran (Shaun of the Dead, Run Fatboy Run) plays a hard-drinking bookshop owner with little respect for his health and even less respect for the customers who are constantly bothering him for help.
The Mighty Boosh
The hard-to-describe comedy series follows an odd pair -- a glam rocker and his straight-laced pal -- as they travel to bizarre environments and occasionally perform Conchords-esque songs about them. Later, they work in a shop.
Shouty Hell's Kitchen boss Gordon Ramsey has nothing on Gareth Blackstock, the head chef at a gourmet English restaurant who terrorizes his sous-chefs and any complaining patrons.
Please, ABC, let Scrubs die with what's left of its dignity and start showing this show, about the ridiculously dysfunctional employees of a British hospital?
This show about a working class family follows the father and his nine children, who all live in public housing. It straddles the line between comedy and drama, and had a storyline about heroin addiction among other dark topics.
NBC shows the imported Merlin, so why not this import about the famous archer-thief, currently airing on BBC America?
Gavin & Stacey
The story about a long-distance couple who meet over the phone, fall in love and get married over the course of a season also follows their respective friends, who hook up early on and have a child out of wedlock together. Not having learned from No Heroics, ABC is working on an adaptation.
The IT Crowd
Recently shown on IFC, this hilarious series about two geeky computer guys, their computer-illiterate supervisor and the crazy company president was also in the running for a remake with Joel McHale, which was thankfully nixed.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) starred in this geek-revered series from Shaun director Edgar Wright, about a Star Wars-loving comic shop employee-slash-comic artist who moves in with a female freelance writer. If this show had been remade (there were plans once), there would have been crying in the TWoP offices.
Got a favorite British show? Let the world know below.
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