Boy, when you move to London, you learn all sorts of really interesting and important facts. For example, I just learned that the Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore film Fever Pitch is actually a remake of the British novel and film of same name by Nick Hornby—but instead of the Red Sox baseball team, it’s the Arsenal soccer team with which the lead character is obsessed. Huh. See? It’s like I told you: very, very interesting and very, very important facts.
There are many shows that originated in the UK, actually, that Americans enjoy and probably don’t realize are remakes until relocating to London. For instance, if you didn’t already know, Ricky Gervais will be certain to remind you that The Office was his and Stephen Merchant’s brainchild. I’ve watched the first season of the British Office and find it hilarious, but in a definitely different way than its American counterpart—while the parallels in storyline and characterization are obvious (and brilliantly played by the British cast as well), distinctly British humor has the effect of making jokes (or “gags” as they like to call ‘em) more subtle and perhaps the pacing a bit slower going; they really play up the documentary format to intentionally avoid a formulaic story arc. To be fair, though, if the American show has strayed at all from that authentic documentary angle, it was probably necessary to its staying-power (*ahem* seven seasons *cough*). Gervais’s David Brent may be an acquired taste for those first accustomed to Carell’s Michael Scott, but perhaps it’s for the best if you do moderate your passion for the British series, as it only consists of twelve episodes plus a two-part Christmas special to savor for its quality not quantity (okay, I just stole that quip from Ricky…).
Oh, let’s see, what else…most recently perhaps, the U.S. has gotten its own version of Top Gear for automotive fanatics and even those who don’t consider themselves to be—like me, for instance. I’ve only seen one episode of the Yankee version, which I thought was decent and follows the exact same format (they’ve even got their own Stig), but to be honest, it’s the personalities on the UK original that keep me comin’ back for more when I really couldn’t care less about cars otherwise.
Though I could reasonably argue that Castle is a modern, male version of Murder, She Wrote (just kidding, they’re both American series—don’t let the Angela Landsbury factor fool you—but I just had to share what I think is one of my husband’s most awesome observations ever ), the most prevalent television genres that the United States likes to adapt from the United Kingdom are reality TV and game shows. Some popular examples:
Reality Dating/Makeover/Talent/etc. Shows:
America’s Got Talent (UK: Britain’s Got Talent)
American Idol (UK: Pop Idol, which is now X-Factor)
I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
Dancing With the Stars (UK: Strictly Come Dancing)
Dating in the Dark
Trading Spaces (UK: Changing Rooms)
What Not to Wear
Man vs. Wild (UK: Born Survivor)
[and the one I really wish the U.S. would take on is Ladette to Lady, which follows the traditional British finishing school grooming of drunken, slovenly, saucy tarts who love to show their boobs once they get a drop of alcohol in their system after their flower-arranging and elocution classes.]
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Deal or No Deal (it didn’t originate in the UK, but they had it before the U.S., sans the slutty chicks holding the cases)
Whose Line is it Anyway?
So for as much as you’ll see American television and film imported over here, let’s give due respect to all the modern entertainment the British continue to contribute even centuries after Shakespeare, Dickens, and Austen rocked our recreational realm. And enjoy the best of both worlds after your London move!