Sunday, August 19, 2007

BBC America And Originality

Usually, my raves are about a specific television series but I'd like to focus on a network today. Many of you may have no idea of what BBC America is. It's actually a smart idea. Take the shows that are popular in England and re-air them here (sometimes as much as year later.) If you think of it, U.S. television has gotten pretty stale. So bad in fact that they have been taking U.K. shows and recreating them here. I think it goes at least as far back as the 1988 debut of Dear John but we've been regurgitating their shows here: The Office, The Weakest Link, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Supernanny, Hell's Kitchen, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares... the list is still growing.

Why does it seem like I'm a fan of what we don't have here? I think it goes back to being a child and watching old episodes of Dr. Who and Star Trek (one from another country and another canceled before its time.) I remember growing up not knowing a single person that watched either or both. My family did go see the Trek movies but I guess it's more acceptable to watch when you have to pay per head, right. We have tried to keep Star Trek alive here in the U.S. with next generations, S.D. 9's, Voyagers, Enterprises and the new film project currently kept under wraps. Thankfully, someone saw the gap decided to breathe new life into Dr. Who to fill it. In it's third season (here in the U.S), the show is amazing and remains fresh with great writing. It even has its first spin-off, Torchwood, heading here shortly. Heck, a recent episode dealt with witches and included two J.K Rowling jokes (not to mention the current Dr. who played Barty Crouch Jr. in the Goblet Of Fire film.)

I think I've mentioned Gordon Ramsey before. Both of his original shows are still airing on BBC America as well as his Gordon Ramsey's The F Word. I could go on about Ramsey, he does grow on you, but I think it is the creative minds behind their science-fiction fantasy series that really draws me. They've reinvigorated classic characters Robin Hood and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for the a newer and younger audience that expects more from television. I wish I had more time to watch another series called Hex, also.

Sure I'd urge you to go out to buy or rent the first few seasons of Dr. Who but better yet, be aware of what comes from where and why. I really think we are starting to run out of as well as ruin good ideas here in the States. We have some brainless game shows taking over on the major networks. (Yes, I can see some good in watching something and not engaging brain cells to pick a briefcase. But not every evening.) We also have tons of reality shows. These aren't all horrible but some are useless (like that bad version of Survivor on a pirate ship.) Ahhh... the why! There is a looming strike coming and if a bunch of writers for shows walk away... you can keep your schedule full with game and reality shows. Set For Life, Power Of 10, Identity, Deal Or No Deal, Don't Forget The Lyrics, The Singing Bee... and more to come. Also, if you already have a script for the show (comes from the U.K.) re-acting and directing it doesn't require the same work as authorship. Something worth pondering.


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Anonymous said...

Three's Company was a UK show before being remade here. The insanity that is American Idol was based off the UK's Pop Idol. There are tons of shows remade for US tv, most likely more than we even realize.

Sometimes remakes work (The Office) and sometimes they don't (Coupling.)

Keep in mind that The Office really came into it's own during the second season, once they diverted from the UK version.
Coupling used the scripts from the original in the first three shows but removed the sexiness and humour that drove the original.

Jekyll looks interesting I may have to check it out. I really enjoyed both seasons of HEX, the finale however was a bit unsatisfying. The show was canceled in the UK after the second season so there wasn't closure.

The camp of Robin Hood makes it fun to watch and I am looking forward to another season, also looking forward to a new season of Life on Mars.

LoraLoo said...

99% of reality shows aside, I think there are some good American shows. They just keep recycling the same idea (i.e. CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami).

The other night I was channel surfing and found something called "Solitary". Have you seen this crap?? Obviously there's a market for all this garbage, because they still air it and people still watch it.

Gordon Ramsay is definitely an acquired taste... I can only take small doses of him at a time.

Ken said...

The idea of ripping off something that is decent somewhere else and re-tooling for a different audience has been going on for ages. All in the Family was a remake of the British sitcom Til Death Us Do Part. I think That 70s Show was based on a British show too.

I agree that there is a a lack of originality in American TV. The various CSIs and Law and Orders are a testament to that. I also don't see the appeal of the game shows.

Anyway, I always enjoy catching BBC America from time to time.

Unknown said...

I just like the idea of a show that has been on television since the 60's (Dr Who) and still is going strong.