Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I watched the episode of "Confessions" from 'Law & Order: UK', which was based on the 'Law & Order' episode "Bad Faith". (On the Toobworld timeline, that took place fifteen years earlier.)

I noticed how closely the plot followed the original, having seen the American version a few months back. And yet I have no problem with them sharing the same TV dimension. Even the fact that the group dynamic is the exact same - older cop, younger partner, female boss; plus male lead prosecutor with pretty female associate and the jaded older boss - isn't a problem for Toobworld Central. Like 'Ugly Betty' and 'The Office', this is a format that is common enough to be repeated again in other cities if Dick Wolf wanted to. (Not that they'd always be accepted by the audience - witness 'Law & Order: Los Angeles'.)

That same argument could be made for an international remake in the other direction, with 'Skins'. Even if some of those young American kids still sport the same first names - like the main kid, Tony (but "Stonem" vs "Snyder") - and they dealt with the same issues as their British counterparts, it's still universal enough fo rthe scenario to happen again and again. After all, what is a universe based on Television without repeats?

Besides, the American 'Skins' changed the role of gay Maxxie to Tea the lesbian, which basically neutered what was once a strong plot point for Tony Stonem. Tony Snyder now comes off as just chasing the straight guy's dream.....

So Toobworld Central has no problem with both versions of 'Skins' sharing the same TV dimension.

The same can't be said for another British remake - that of 'Shameless'. The creator of the original show is even on board with the remake for Showtime. Both the writer and the network would ensure the same daring, offensive, abrasive feel as the original.

But why did he have to give everybody in the family the EXACT same names as in the British series? I have no problem with the same storylines repeating; that's a common enough occurrence in Toobworld. There are probably families like these layabouts all over the world.

I could have accepted the same last name of Gallagher. Probably could have squeezed out a post about that, saying there was a Toobworld curse upon those who bear that surname. But look at the character line-up for each:

Frank, the father
Oldest daughter Fiona

The American Monica, the estranged wife of Frank and mother to the brood, should be showing up soon if she hasn't already. Only a "Stella" appears to be missing. (I get the feeling she's a baby?)

Most sitcom translations have had name changes - Alf Garnett became Archie Bunker; Sanford instead of Steptoe; and with the three attempts to remake 'Fawlty Towers', there wasn't a Basil Fawlty in the bunch - just Snavely, Payne, and Amanda, with a sex change to boot! Even with all of the Ugly Bettys around the world, they mostly have different last names.

So why couldn't it have been a line-up of Gallaghers with names like Jack, Susan, Mark, Jimmy, Brian, Lisa, and Jessica? (I have no clue what to do with "Lip" or what he's all about.....) Those Gallaghers, or any others with different first names, could have stayed in Earth Prime-Time. But these are just remakes, so off they go to the remake TV dimension.

Finally, there's one last American remake that has to be dealt with - 'Being Human'. I had hopes of keeping both versions in the main Toobworld. Sure, the premise of a vampire and werewolf sharing a house already occupied by a ghost isn't exactly common, but it could have happened at best one more time. But did they have to slavishly repeat everything? The vampire and werewolf both work at a hospital; the hospital has a basement in which the werewolf can transform safely and without notice. And the ghost is a light-skinned black girl? Really? Even the original British pilot had a pale Irish chick!

I only watched the first episode of the American version, but from previews I know that the werewolf will meet another like him who'll teach him the ropes of lycanthropy; the vampire will go up against the hierarchy of the Boston vampire community, which - again, as in the British series - is led by a policeman.

Since the building in which they all live is rented to them by the ghost's former fiance, I wouldn't be surprised if her origin story remains the same.

With a plotline so specific, it wasn't going to be enough just to change their names - George to Josh, Mitchell to Aidan*, Annie to Sally, and Herrick to Bishop.

Apparently there is some deviation in the plotline coming, but it doesn't matter. This is heading to the land of remakes as well.

So that's not too bad for divvying up the most recent remakes - two get to stay in the main Toobworld, and two get sent packing.

A bit o' tele-cosmic balance, that!


* I think that's an in-joke. The actor who plays Mitchell in the British remake is Aidan Turner.

1 comment:

Erin said...

A few comments: when I heard that there was going to be a US version of Skins set in Baltimore, I was extremely excited (as I am a Baltimore native myself). What disappointed me about the show was that they pretty much copied the British version word for word, (once I even heard a character say Mum!), except they made Maxxie a lesbian girl because they thought that actress was great and wanted her on the show. It is nothing like Baltimore at all, and frankly, I was offended that they even said it would be set in Baltimore, because it did not do life in Baltimore justice.

As for your comments on Shameless: I think it is great that they kept the names the same, as there are too many shows with such generic American hum-drum names, like the ones you suggested, that I think that would have made the show seem like it was just like every other show to those who did not take the time to watch it because of the boring and generic character names. Also, as a Catholic, Irish-American I found it refreshing that they had names that are less common in the grand scheme of things in American society, but which are popular for Irish-Americans - like Liam, Ian, and the like. Replacing the names of the characters would be a mistake, and would take away from who they are as characters, and that would be a shame.

If the character names put you off from watching the show, I implore you to reconsider, to really watch the show, because frankly it is one of the best shows currently on television.