America seems to have a terrible habit of taking our classic TV shows, putting them through the ‘stars ‘n’ stripes machine’, and turning them into bags of complete and utter garbage.
There, we said it.
Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, American remakes of UK TV shows are simply awful, evidenced by some of these excruciatingly weird examples.
It might be hard to believe, but there have actually been a couple of attempts to American-ise Absolutely Fabulous. The first came over 15 years ago, and was set to star Carrie Fischer (yes, Princess Leia) and Roseanne Barr, but thankfully, the show was smothered before it got past its pilot.
It’s monumental failure didn’t stop them from trying again, ten years later though.
Beane’s of Boston (Are You Being Served?)
“Sorry, you’re not talking about Are You Being Served – the quintessentially British sit-com, are you?” Sadly, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Beane’s of Boston, the American remake of the innuendo-heavy show, failed to yield much more than a pilot episode in the U.S.
We’re sensing a pattern here.
Here are the UK credits for the American version of Cracker, titled as Fitz to avoid confusion with the original show. Confused? Not as confused as the ratings board when they took a look at this remake.
We can give it as much stick as we want, but the show actually managed to run for two years, and rope Robbie Coltrane into an episode to boot.
The Rear Guard (Dad’s Army)
To be fair, with its oo-er qualities, The Rear Guard isn’t the least appropriate title for a Dad’s Army remake. But the rest of the show couldn’t live up to the name.
You have three guesses as to how far the production got, and we bet you’ll get it in one. The Pilot of The Rear Guard was so strongly hated that the show was instantly thrown out, never to be touched again.
What did they expect, really? Their whole concept was one long innuendo.
Payne (Fawlty Towers)
From Torquay to California, what could possibly go wrong? Absolutely everything, in fact. Payne was a horrible remake of Fawlty Towers that desperately tried to emulate the buffoonish behaviour of Basil, to no avail.
You only have to look at the episode names of the US series to understand its style: Sexual Intercom, Gossip Checks in and a Cat Checks Out (sorry, I can’t understand gibberish), and I Never Forget a Face-Lift.
What were they thinking?
Us & Them (Gavin & Stacey)
Now this one was a slightly better effort – slightly. Gavin & Stacey relied heavily on British humour and in-jokes, so porting the show over to the States was always going to be difficult, but at least it got past the pilot stage.
Well, in South Africa and Korea it got past the pilot stage. In fact, the entire seven episode run that were created were available on all major IPTV networks in Korea, but unfortunately, Fox pulled the plug on U.S viewings before it aired.
Better luck next time guys.
The wound of this one will still be well and truly fresh for most of you, as The Inbetweeners U.S first aired in 2012 – and last aired in 2012.
This heretic act involved the usual: cartoon exaggerations of perfectly normal characters, dowsing the dead-pan comedy, and transforming the quartet of awkward lads into a huddle of giggling guys.
Men Behaving Badly
Boasting 28 episodes over two seasons, we really do have to cut the U.S Men Behaving Badly adaptation some ‘survival’ slack, at least in the context of this list.
Starring Rob Schneider (I know), the show tried to emulate the typical, lower class lives of Gary and Tony, with varied success. Ultimately though, most working-class American sit-coms don’t really stand a chance, and Men Behaving Badly fell prey to lacklustre ratings.
On the Rocks (Porridge)
Ronnie Barker is fondly remembered as one of Britain’s greatest comedians – a national treasure, no less – and the 1974 prison-based comedy Porridge exemplified everything that we loved about him. Sarcasm, satire, brutal indictments of authority. It had it all.
When the ABC American television network tried to promote a stateside remake however, it all went down the drain, and Jose Perez never had the chance to play Fletcher’s American counterpart, Hector Fuentes. Gutted.
Red Dwarf USA? No, we’re not kidding.
The year was 1992, and NBC roped in Scary Movie 4’s Craig Bierko to play Dave Lister, who, rather than being a witty but dim, outspoken, heart-of-gold scouser, was a fit, healthy, American bloke.
We’re guessing he ate hamburgers instead of curry, or something like that. Watch the pilot episode and weep.
Sanford and Son (Steptoe and Son)
And finally, we come to this, the U.S remake of the classic British sitcom Steptoe and Son, and we’re honestly glad to announce that we have no bad word to say about it.
The show ran for six seasons, spanning five years, making Sanford and Son the most successful show on this list. Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson starred as Albert and Harold’s American-ified selves, and the show really hit a chord with the public – examining racial politics as well as class ones.
It’s a little bit odd, that out of all the comedy greats on this list, it was Steptoe and Son that really made it in the U.S.