Alan Sepinwall is a TV critic and columnist who now plies his trade at HitFix.com. Soon after the latest press tour, he wrote about the topic of recent international remakes ('Being Human', 'Shameless', and 'Skins') and made some pretty interesting observations, which I'd like to share with you here:
What's frustrating is the need the respective creative teams felt to make carbon copies. I recognize that the great majority of people who see these new versions will have no idea that the originals even exist, never mind having seen episodes of them. But by the same token, few in America had ever seen the British "Office," yet almost everyone agrees that the first episode of NBC's version - the only one to ever closely copy a British script - is one of the show's worst episodes.
A good remake takes an important idea and then recasts it to fit the vision of the new creator, or something specific to the new country or time in which it's set, or something to do with the new actors. (Norman Lear famously had never seen the British show that "All in the Family" was based on before he wrote a script, and just wanted to do apply its premise of a father and son disagreeing politically to what he was seeing of the generation gap in '70s America.)
I think there's a way to take the raw material of "Being Human" and do something new with it. At press tour last week, the American producers made it sound like they're going to deviate more as the first season goes along, and said they had chosen not to watch the second season of the British show for now, and possibly ever. That's definitely a step in the right direction. But I think the Lear approach - tell a few producers nothing but "A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost get an apartment together" and send them off to write their own version of that - might have yielded something that felt livelier from the start.
You can follow Alan Sepinwall at his blog "What's Alan Watching?" which you'll find listed in the blog-roll to the left.....)