Remakes - Max Headroom to The Prisoner

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Max Headroom
Original UK Series: Originally created as a VJ, a 1985 TV movie told the origins of Max Headroom (Matt Frewer), a computer generated character living in a dystopian world dominated by television "20 minutes into the future."

American Remake: Two seasons on ABC in 1987-88 was a brief phenomenon that included Max in a series of Coca-Cola ads.

Comments: The American series did not dumb down the pilot at all, in fact except for some minor cast changes and tweaking of the format to make it a continuing series, it was an accurate remake of the British original. Though short-lived, the US series was ahead of its time in predicting some of television's excesses of today.

Mistresses
Original UK Series: Sarah Parish starred in this 2008 BBC drama as one of four lifelong friends who get together and gossip about their love lives and work.

American Remake: Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim headlined this summer replacement series on ABC.

Comments: The original ran for three seasons, and the remake was a big enough hit during summer 2013 for ABC to get a second season.

Men Behaving Badly
Original UK Series: Men Behaving Badly (1992-98). A bawdy but hilarious comedy written by Simon Nye about two barely housetrained flatmates (Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey) and their lives and loves.

American Remake: NBC ran the US version for two seasons, 1996-97, which starred Rob Schneider.

Comments: What distinguished the British version was what losers Gary and Tony were, particularly the dump they lived in. But Americans don't like watching losers, and the US show had them living in a trendy Indianapolis apartment. A series of girlfriends and neighbors passed through the series but made little impression. Americans eventually got to see the original courtesy of BBC America.

My Guide To Becoming A Rock Star
Original UK Series: The Young Person's Guide To Becoming A Rock Star (1999). Hilarious "How To" look at achieving success in the music scene. An ambitious young Scottish rocker narrates the entire mini-series, deadpanning his trials and tribulations in love and show business, although the events aren't always quite as cut-and-dried as he describes.

American Remake: The WB began running it in March 2002 starring Oliver Hudson.

Comments: Amazing faithful to the original (right down to the British heavy metal parents) and it even expanded on material not covered in the original.  But WB dumped it after less than a month.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks
Original UK Series: Begun in 1996, Nevermind The Buzzcocks is a BBC-2 celebrity quiz show about rock music hosted by Mark Lamarr, with team captains Phil Jupitus and Sean Hughes. Other panelists are either musicians or comics.  Lamarr is famous for expressing his opinion and generally makes fun of everyone.

American Remake: VH-1 started it in March 2002 with Marc Maron as host, and Daphne Brogdon and Matt Price as team captains.

Comments: This, and the remakes of As If and The Young Person's Guide To Becoming A Rock Star all premiered within 10 days of each other in March 2002.  Must be some kind of record! They were all canceled just as quickly.

The Office
Original UK Series: Only two seasons (12 episodes total) and a Christmas special were produced of this parody of fly-on-the-wall docusoaps about a dysfunctional sales office run by the world's worst boss David Brent (writer and co-director Ricky Gervais).

American Remake: The NBC made a star out of Steve Carell as Michael Scott, although he is leaving the show during the seventh season. Other regulars include Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, and John Kraskinski.

Comments: BBC America's most popular comedy and winner of two Golden Globes awards for Best Comedy (and the rising star power of Steve Carell) apparently count for something as the NBC series has run enough episodes to make it to syndication.

On The Rocks
Original UK Series: Porridge (1974-77). BBC comedy set in a prison with Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies) as a habitual criminal who's spent much of his adult life 'doing porridge' (serving time).

American Remake: Short-lived ABC series in 1975.

Comments: The original is a fondly-recalled part of Barker's extensive career, the remake is barely remembered.

The Ortegas
Original UK Series: The Kumars At No. 42. A combination sitcom and chat show featuring a Westernized Indian family and their clueless son who is the presenter. The interviews are the best part as the guests (mostly B-grade British celebrities) have no idea what is going to happen.

American Remake: A hispanic family is now the focus.

Comments: I always thought Kumars was a one-joke idea (okay, we get it: the son is an idiot) but the interviews are always fun. Are Americans ready for an existential chat show? This was on Fox's Fall 2003 schedule but never aired.

Payne
Original UK Series: Fawlty Towers (12 episodes, 1975 & 1979). Continually ranked as the funniest comedy every made in Britain, John Cleese and Connie Booth wrote every episode, supposedly spending months working on every line. As Basil Fawlty, the rudest, most inept hotelier ever, Cleese created a classic comic monster that stands the test of time.

American Remake: The second remake of Fawlty Towers (see also Amanda's) ran briefly on CBS in 1999.

Comments: Star John Larroquette gave it his best shot, but he's no John Cleese.

The Prisoner
Original UK Series: Patrick McGoohan's classic 1967 series about an unnamed spy kept captive in a strange "village" ran only 17 episodes but has been in reruns ever since.  The CBS network showed it in the USA in 1968 except for the episode "Living In Harmony" which was banned.

American Remake: Writer Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise To Candleford) reimagined the series for ITV and AMC in November 2009 as a six-hour mini-series with an amnesiac Number Six (Jim Caviezel) matching wits with a single Number Two (Ian McKellen).

Comments: Despite much hype, it failed to live up the original, with no big idea behind it, a lackluster Number Six, and too much left unrevealed to the audience until the very end.

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