British TV shows offer a fertile ground for mining ideas that American TV producers can quickly adopt in place of actually coming up with original shows. Sometimes it works like a charm. "The Office" helped turn Steve Carrell into a major star. "American Idol" introduced US audiences to the acerbic insults of Simon Cowell. Gordon Ramsay has boosted his career by creating US versions of all his hit TV shows. This allows him to go on profanity laced tirades at aspiring chefs and struggling restaurant owners on two different continents. For all of these successes, not everything that comes across the pond finds a home with American TV viewers. These five British TV Series remakes standout of the most notable failures:
The twist on adapting this British sitcom is that the original version of "Coupling" drew inspiration from popular 90s sitcoms such as "Seinfeld" and "Friends." The show's premise offered promise as it is centered on six friends and followed them through various misadventures related to dating and sex. One problem everyone soon learned is that making a copy of a copy only deteriorates quality. The US version of "Coupling" lasted just four episodes before NBC pulled the plug.
"Life on Mars":
Leave it to an American adaptation of a quirky British show to remove all the drama and mystery. The premise of "Life on Mars" concerns a detective named Sam Tyler who is struck by a car in 2008 and awakens to find himself in 1973. Tyler has no idea how he got there or why he is there and unraveling the mystery is the driving force of the show. In the US version, we learn that he is not a police detective at all. Instead he is an astronaut in a virtual reality simulation as he makes the first manned voyage to Mars. Way to take a title literally.
MTV gave up showing music videos silicate rip-off edgy teen dramas from the United Kingdom. The original version of "Skins" has lasted for six series because it candidly deals with issues afflicting the teen characters in the show, including sex, violence and eating disorders. The MTV version lasted ten episodes in part because it tackled the same topics in in a more audience-friendly manner that took away the original dramatic edge.
Future "Dr. Who" star David Tennant paired with David Morrissey for this mishmash of drama, comedy and musical set in a casino. It lasted one series in the UK and American TV producers eagerly snapped up the idea as a star vehicle for Hugh Jackman. Remember "Viva Laughlin?" If you do, you are in the minority. That "Blackpool" adaptation lasted just two episodes before cancelation.
Maria Bello is no Helen Mirren. Bello can play a hardened New York City police detective all she wants, but it will never compare to Mirren's turn as a Scotland Yard investigator. The U.S. version of "Prime Suspect" lasted 13 episodes, but it never rose above the constraints and cliches of other police procedural dramas.