Doctor Who has taken America by storm — and, amazingly enough, hasn't gotten an American remake. (Unless you count that 1996 TV movie.) What other British shows could find an appreciative audience across the pond?
Recently I was arguing with a friend of mine about whether or not Doctor Who would get an American remake. I still think it will — if not literally, then in some kind of horrible monster of a rip-off with a time-traveling bus and alien monsters on pogo sticks. My friend thought that there was no need to create a domestic version of something that had so completely saturated the United States already. Everyone knows the Doctor. Everyone can get past seasons, past incarnations, novelizations, comics, and various pieces of fan shwag.
My friend might have a point. The Office and Being Human made ideal candidates for reinvention in the U.S., because they did not enjoy the same popularity in America that Doctor Who has been getting for decades. They could be remade, and Americanized, without alienating a legion of existing fans Stateside. No doubt there are plenty of shows whose concepts could cross the Atlantic. On the other hand, there are plenty of shows which could make the jaunt over themselves, without having to be recast with a crew of Americans.
One show that could light up the minds of America is Misfits. A group of attractive, hip young people are doing court-ordered community service in a thunderstorm. They get hit by a lightning bolt — and suddenly, they have special powers. It sounds like Heroes. It's not. In the first episode, they kill their probation officer (to be fair, he gets turned insane and tries to kill them) and for the rest of the series, they try to cover up the murder. Misfits is two seasons in, and is scheduled to air a third. For those who liked Heroes, but felt no need to save the cheerleader or the world, this could be a great show to discover in its unadulterated, British, original form.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is just . . . British. It's just massively, intrinsically British and so when it is made into a series — and many people have called for the one-off show that aired recently on BBC4 to be expanded — it needs to hop over as is. I mean, the first Douglas Adams book contains a Coleridge poem. You can't just turn that into Emily Dickinson. There's no American city, or region, in which it could be set. And what's more, you've got a massive American audience which has already read the original books and likes them, in part, for their setting and for their intrinsic nationality. So this is another British show that could make the leap to the U.S. without needing any sort of remake.
One of my favorite BBC shows, and one that I hope saunters over to America intact, is QI. QI stands for Quite Interesting, and it's a panel show mixed with a game show. The host asks desceptively simple questions, like, "How many moons does the earth have," and if the panelists — all professional comedians — give the obvious answer they lose 'points.' The answer is always something ridiculously obscure. The show is meant to demonstrate that some facts that we all know are true are just lies that everyone has repeated often enough to believe. In the meantime, we get a lot of frustrated comedians, and it's fun and yes, interesting. On the surface, there's no reason why this couldn't be remade in America. The problem is, the host is Stephen Fry. And when you have a host who is Stephen Fry, and you make a new version in which the host is not Stephen Fry, the two just can't compare. The show has to come over intact, or else we'd have to kidnap Fry and smuggle him to America. The former seems easier.
Any British shows that you're dying to see broadcast in your native country in their original form?