Friday, April 29, 2016

The Office, Starring Ricky Gervais: Three American Series Remakes More Popular in the US Than the Original British Shows

                Hollywood is not above stealing ideas if it means a successful series or a successful movie.  Jurassic World is the 3rd sequel to the Jurassic Park; the Marvel Cinematic Movies’ stories are based on the Marvel comics’ stories, for example.  One of the ways series creators get more series ideas is by watching successful shows from other countries.  If they are able to get the rights to the show, they create an Americanized show and hope the success of the home country show will translate to successful American show.  Sometimes the American show is so popular many Americans don’t even know that that it was created from a British show.  Here are three examples of three American series remakes more popular than their original British shows.
                Sanford and Son was a 1970s TV series about Fred Stanford (Redd Fox), a sarcastic junk dealer who is constantly trying crazy schemes to get rich, while his son Lamont Stanford (Demond Wilson) is the put-upon son who wants to escape the family business, but can’t completely due to getting involved in Fred’s schemes.  The show lasted from for five seasons from 1972 to 1977 and 135 episodes.  It was based on Steptoe and Son, about a “rag-and-bone man” (that is, a man who collects unwanted scraps and sells them) called Albert Steptoe (Wilfrid Brambell), who is set in his ways and says whatever he pleases, while Harold(Harry H. Corbett) is his son wants to escape his father and make his own life.  The show lasted for four seasons from 1962 to 1965 and again for seasons five through eight from 1970 to 1974 and lasted for 48 episodes (due to the fact that British seasons at the time were much shorter, only 7 or 8 episodes).   Technically Steptoe and Son was probably just as popular in the UK as Stanford and Son was in the US, but most US people don't know about Steptoe and Son.  
                The NBC series the Office was a hugely popular series about a dysfunctional office filled with eccentric characters who all worked in the same office at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  The show was filmed as if it was a documentary crew or reality show recording the office’s every move, with interviews with the cast spliced in between the plot of an episode.  Because the show is an ensemble piece, no one character takes the spotlight, though some characters like Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the inappropriately joking boss, and Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), the everyday worker and the quiet receptionist who fall in love, take up more of the storylines.  The show lasted for 9 seasons and 201 episodes.  The show was based on the UK show also called the Office.  It followed a documentary crew recording the office lives of Werham Hogg Paper Company.  It was an ensemble piece, though the storylines tended to focus on the David Brent (Ricky Gervais), who typically makes embarrassing jokes in an attempt to be funny to his employees, and Tim(Martin Freeman) the every-worker who is in love with the receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis).  The show was not a ratings hit in its first season, but due to being a critical hit, it was renewed for a second season and was a huge hit internationally.  The show lasted a total of 14 episodes.
                American Idol, at one time, was a cultural phenomenon.  Launched in the summer of 2002, the show, the show’s format became an immediate hit.  Beginning with the disastrous auditions of terrible aspiring singers, and then leading into live shows with actually pretty good singers where the audience would vote by phone, online or by text for their favorite singer.   Complemented by the singers were the judges with distinct, strong personalities, whose opinion many times led to the success of the performer.  The first seven seasons featured quite possibly the most famous reality judge grouping in TV history, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.  The show ruled the 2000s decade, being number one in the US ratings from 2003 to 2011, ultimately lasting 15 seasons, ending on April 7, 2016.  American Idol was based on the British TV show Pop Idol, which ran for two seasons from 2001 to 2003, and had many of the same elements: disastrous performances during the auditions process leading to live shows where the audience voted for their favorite singer. The winners of the two seasons were Will Young and Michelle McManus.  The judges on Pop Idol were Peter Waterman (record producer and music executive), Simon Cowell, Nicki Chapman (music promoter and music manager), and Neil “Dr” Fox (radio DJ and television personality).  While the show was a huge success, it was put on hiatus by the start of The X Factor by Simon Cowell (the UK version of which is still going today). 

                If spot a successful TV show, it might be possible it was a remake of a show from another country.  Check out these originals that inspired some of the most popular American TV shows. 

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