Thursday, May 15, 2008


TV series from other countries are remade all the time in the United States. Most of them come from Great Britain, but 'Ugly Betty' has its roots in South America and that's turning into a phenom spanning the globe.

And now shows from Israel are getting the American makeover, starting with 'In Treatment' on HBO, which was based on a show called 'Betipul' (or 'B'Tippul'). CBS announced 'The Ex-List' as one of its new series for the Fall, which is based on the Israeli 'Mythological Ex'.

In the past, enough revisions would be made so that the new versions were not carbon copies of the originals. We got Archie Bunker instead of a new Alf Garnett; among the tourist hotels one could visit in the USA are 'Snavely Manor', 'Amanda's By The Sea' and the Whispering Pines (which should have been called The House of 'Payne'), and none of them are in conflict with their inspiration, 'Fawlty Towers'.

For the most part, Toobworld can absorb all of these international remakes and house them in Earth Prime-Time, the main TV dimension. Even all of the incarnations of 'Ugly Betty' - save for the cartoon version of her younger self; that goes to the Tooniverse - can remain in the same Toobworld, spread out across their various countries. (There's about 11 or 12 of them now!) And the same holds true for the paper-pushers at 'The Office'.

The only exception I can think of would be the many incarnations of 'Maigret'. There should be only one in the main Toobworld. (But I'm torn as to who it should be.)

CBS has two other remakes on the sked for the Fall, both from the UK. 'The Eleventh Hour' is the first, about a scientist averting catastrophes that could have global impact. (It's coming from Jerry Bruckheimer, so one can always hope for a crossover with any of the 'CSI' shows.) The original starred Patrick Stewart as Professor Ian Hood and the new version has Rufus Sewell affecting an American accent as Jacob Hood. (I don't understand the point in hiring British actors if you don't want to take advantage of their fantastic accents! Did it really matter that Dr. Greg 'House' had to be an American?)

Both series deal with similar topics and are nearly mirror images of each other. In fact, both Professor Hoods have assistants/security personnel named Rachel. Yet I think the TV dimension can maintain them both. Who knows? We might even be able to make the argument that Ian and Jacob are related, despite the Americanized accent on Jacob.

The other is 'Worst Week', which is the second attempt in America to remake 'The Worst Week Of My Life', about a young man's disastrous attempts to blend in with his prospective bride's family. The first version never got out of the pilot stage and had David Ogden Stiers as the future father-in-law. This time around, it's Kurtwood Smith. (The series has also been remade over in Germany as 'Hilfe! Hochzeit! - Die Schlimmste Woche Meines Lebens'.

So far, that's three remakes of shows from other countries on the sked for this coming fall. But ABC has announced another show in the same category, and I'm afraid this time it has to be bumped over to that TV dimension which houses remakes like 'Battlestar Galactica', 'The New Addams Family', and the latest addition, 'Bionic Woman'. ('Knight Rider' will be a sequel, not a remake, so it remains in Earth Prime-Time.)
'Life On Mars', which starred John Simm, Liz White, and the fantastic, iconic, Philip Glenister, ranks up there as one of my Top 20 TV series of all time. And now David E. Kelley has groomed an American version. (Apparently, he won't be involved with the overall production, which will be run by the 'October Road' production team.) This time out, the series stars Jason O'Meara, Colm Meaney, Rachelle Lefevre, Lennie Clarke, and Richard Benjamin.

The premise remains the same - a cop in the present day is struck down by a car, and when he awakes he finds himself in the early 1970s. As the Mancunian version says each week in the opening credits: "Am I mad, in a coma, or am I really back in Time?" The show will deal with his attempts to reconcile his knowledge of crime-fighting with that of a more "primitive" style as well as his search for the answers about his "present" condition.
I think Toobworld might have been able to absorb the premise on a second go-round, even one so specific. But Jason O'Meara will be Sam Tyler; Colm Meaney will take over as Gene Hunt; and Rachelle Lefevre will play Annie Cartwright. These are the exact same character names from the original series. It's too much of a coincidence, and so off it has to go to the dimension of Earth Prime-Time Remakes.

The Toobal Council has spoken.

Toby OB

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