If you watch the show to your left, you might be a Republican.
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.)
For years, I've been hearing how good the British series The IT Crowd is. "It's so good," everyone kept telling me, "that they're talking about doing an American version!" Being an inherently lazy person, this gave me even less of a desire to seek it out, as I was willing to wait until it got to the U.S. in some bastardized form. (Hey, this was when the American Office was just winning people over, so I was not being completely irrational.) Now, with no remake in sight, IFC has come to my rescue, because they've been airing the original IT Crowd Tuesday nights at 8:00, and it is every bit as hysterical as promised.
If you were like me, you saw that BBC America was bringing over a show called Primeval, and said, "Wasn't that that movie about a giant crocodile starring Orlando Jones?" Well, in Britain, they were either blissful unaware of that film, or they felt that a crummy movie should not have the right to bogart an awesome title, because a month after the movie was inflicted on American audiences, UK viewers got a much better Primeval, in the form of an hour-long sci-fi drama in the vein of X-Files, Angel and Stargate SG-1. And with a new episode premiering this Saturday, followed by a mini-marathon on Sunday, I wanted to get the word out that there is nary an Orlando Jones in sight.
Just when you thought U.S./U.K. relations were at an all-time high, something like this happens. In a clear violation of the Gladiator Non-Proliferation Treaty, BBC America will be broadcasting the game show Gladiators, the U.K. version of the U.S. hit American Gladiators, to American audiences starting on November 1. Since the return of American Gladiators, the U.S. has been careful not to send them overseas or even point them at anybody, so the threat to send British Gladiators into American homes is being taken quite seriously in Washington. ...Washington D.C., not Washington State. Washington state doesn't really care.
In a move that is seriously making my head spin, TNT is making an Americanized version of Cracker (the popular BBC show about a drunken detective, starring Hagrid). The fact that TNT is doing this isn't a big surprise, we remake British shows all the time. Just look at Viva Laughlin (actually don't) and the forthcoming (maybe) Life on Mars. We just love to take quality shows and create our own take on them, without the confusing accents and lingo. It is just too taxing for us dumb Americans to figure out what a lift is apparently.