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June 26 2008

Can recasting help save a pilot? The Guardian mentions the recasting of Willow in Buffy while talking about how to save the Life On Mars US pilot.

Regarding Life On Mars; casting aside it already has the huge problem of it being a remake working against it. I believe even if the casting was spot on it'd end up being criticized.

I agree with a few of the sentiments about not seeing the reason behind making a whole new show that-is-exactly-the-same-but-not-the-same for the US. Just air the original.

I think we Americans need to stop being afraid of British people on our tvs, we liked Giles, right? RIGHT?
This headline in my RSS reader made my Dollhouse worry meter ping. I have thought myself very calm about it but this unintentional experiment has proved that a bit of a lie.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-06-26 18:55 ]
I agree that it's time we stopped re-making British TV, and just watched the real shows. It's so silly. The rest of the world watches our television. Dear god can you imagine the US version of Dr. Who? Although if they used Hugh Laurie as the Doctor - oh wait he's British too....
The Office is evidence that a British show can have a successful remake in the US, but that said from what I understand the US Office was more-or-less completely different to the UK one. The trouble with Life on Mars is that it wasn't really the concept that made it a good show, it was the cast and the writing, the whole cultural period it was set in, and how authentically it was done, and they'll be losing all that when they do the remake...

[ edited by MattK on 2008-06-26 19:08 ]
Actually, season one of 'The Office' US was nearly a scene for scene remake in parts with some actors (notably the guy that plays Jim) almost imitating their British counterparts (Martin Freeman's Tim in his case). It only really became worthwhile IMO from season 2 onwards when they started doing their own thing (the characters are less annoying for instance - even their version of David Brent, Michael Scott - and also much more professionally capable than their opposite numbers). 'Life on Mars' US suffers from the same problem, it's almost a scene for scene remake which left me thinking "Why bother ?".

And the article's totally right about the casting. I really rate Colm Meaney but his Gene Hunt has nothing like the over the top roguish charm of Philip Glenister and not only that, he's physically clearly no match for the guy playing Tyler which leaves all their confrontations flat. Seems like they just couldn't help themselves and went for a good looking quarterback type for Tyler rather than a slighter built character actor. The US Annie is very lovely but she doesn't have Liz White's "farmer's daughter" style unapologetically curvy 70s sexiness and down-to-Earth vibe.

I don't agree that they'll necessarily be losing the cultural period or authenticity though - it could still be authentic (although the pre-air pilot had no real sense of place) but just to 70s America (which obviously won't mean much to we Brits).
I watched the original on BBC America. I liked it. However, I still think a US version could work. But if they can't and everyone still wants to watch an American cop that is out of his element with a bit of UK in it, (in the form of London ;) ), then watch Keen Eddie.
If they need a good show that takes place in past times, bring back Journeyman!
I think the US networks may have been scared of having a very Un-PC character like Hunt as a hero in a show. I suspect the BBC got away with him by thinking he'd be the "unacceptable" face of the 70s Police, the character everyone would hate for his behaviour. By the time they realised people loved him, and may have wished that we could actually have good old fashioned coppers like that in real life, it was too late.
The US suits, having been forewarned what sort of reception he may have got, chickened out and toned him down.

Hope the Americans don't remake Inspector Monkfish. No one can replace John Actor!
Yes, I'd also rather have Journeyman back.
In spite of the Office, this rarely works - Coupling? Spaced? C'mon... Life on Mars was perfect as is. I love Colm Meaney, but lets stop this nonsense.
Wasn't Coupling just a version of Friends?

PS Loved Journeyman. :(
You couldn't possibly ask that if you've seen both shows :)
Wasn't Coupling just a version of Friends?

I liked Friends. But Coupling was ten times better. It's no surprise that Steven Moffats episodes of Doctor Who are far and away the nest ones.
I've heard it referred to as "the British 'Friends'" and in some ways I don't think that's totally inaccurate. It takes the basic idea of 'Friends' ("the lives and loves of a group of 20-30 something friends") and gives it a very distinctively British feel, or in other words it does exactly what 'Life on Mars' US doesn't do.

It is strange though this apparent feeling that US audiences won't watch foreign shows. Has that been borne out over the years or is it maybe a network exec prejudice, sort of received wisdom from 20 years ago that just no longer applies ? The thing that always strikes me about it is, whoever bought the rights must've enjoyed the show, why do they think they're so much more sophisticated than the average US viewer ?

(and yep, has to be said, even in its limited run and though it maybe used "period short-cuts" out of necessity, 'Journeyman' still created a more authentic feeling of time and place than the entire LoM US pilot managed)
If I could ask something totally Off Topic:
One State Tv here is reprising a show for kids, seems from England, that was aired originaly in the early 80's that presents a boy with a spoken flute in a wood, the trees are animated, there is a witch, dwarves and when this aired at first I was very scared of it. Now it still frighten me.
Someone knows what this creep thing is?
The only thing in the US LoM trailer I saw that I liked was Colm Meaney, everything else looked so bad it actually made me gag. The idea of a US version was a little terrifying, but if that was a sample of what was actually going to be produced, then nipping this thing in the bud would likely be a blessing in disguise.

Just air the UK version for chrissakes! Heh, Manchester accents don't even require subtiles.
Brasilian Chaos Man...The title was H.R. Puffenstuff. (I think if I'm getting your description right). The spelling may be incorrect. But I loved me some Witchy-poo. That sounds much weirder as an adult. Hrmm.

[ edited by skeezycheeses on 2008-06-26 21:00 ]
I was thinking about the Life on Mars issue the other day... haven't seen the U.S. pilot but I love the original so I was skeptical even before reading the lukewarm reviews here. Anyway, I suspect one reason American execs would want to remake the show rather than showing the original was that the British version had only two eight-episode "series" (IIRC), which doesn't even add up to one typical American season. If the suits hope for a successful show to have upwards of 100 episodes, they have to make their own version. I think this is another reason the remake would have a difficult time: how do you stretch that story out for so long without making it totally tedious?
I loved LoM. it was really good. it was interesting, it was sweet and very thoughtful. John Simm was fantastic in was the rest of the cast.
As soon as I heard of this remake,I knew it would suck, like so many others before it. The first one that comes into my mind is Viva Laughlin, the remake of Blackpool.I saw a trailer and could barely get through that. I think it was cancelled during the first ep. I tried to see LoM US, I did,but after about 20 mts, it became unbearable. the acting's stiff, they manage to make the plot boring, it is absolutely heartless. it is a copy,almost word-by-word but it is still completely boring. reminds me of 'Vanilla Sky',actually. Much bigger budget,stars, and still it is just boring. like other shows,it is just heartless.
I could go on and on about the US remake, but I'll refrain. What I will say is that they are up against a brick wall no matter what they do. As highly of an acclaimed show as LoM is, there's just no way they're going to avoid harsh criticism. And from what I've seen of the pilot so far, it's every bit deserved. Major overhauls will need to be done for this to even remotely have a chance of succeeding. Though moving the show to New York is a start. Los Angeles doesn't have the grittiness needed for the story.

On the other hand, they could just, you know, show the original on network TV. Not everyone has BBC America, after all.
I think the main problem is that their target audience is almost completely made up of people who've already watched the original on DVD...
"It's no surprise that Steven Moffats episodes of Doctor Who are far and away the nest ones."

Couldn't agree more. I've started watching more of Doctor Who, and there are still aspects of it that really annoy me (there hasn't yet been an assistant that I've liked, though Rose is growing on me), but nevertheless, Moffat's episodes make it worth while. They are so so superior to any of the others, including RTD's, in my opinion.

"reminds me of 'Vanilla Sky',actually. Much bigger budget,stars, and still it is just boring. like other shows,it is just heartless."

By chance, I happened to see Open Your Eyes/Abre los ojos before Vanilla Sky, and it really was so much better. That said, it also really disturbed me. It's a film that I didn't really enjoy watching, but was nevertheless very compelling, and is something I think I'd like to see again sometime.
On another note, are they still butchering episodes on BBC America? I remember with Spooks/MI-5 (I was quite a fan of the first few series of that back when they aired, but that's another topic) they cut the literally hour-long episodes to about 40 minutes, thereby destroying much of the character moments because they couldn't cut the action moments for plot reasons. I'm surprised Life on Mars, or really any series, can still make a good impression after that sort of treatment.
Thank you very much skeezycheeses. You make it in the point. I search it in IMDB and became happy that I'm not the only one to think that was a nightmares machine :)
BBC America is kind of schizo about what they do and don't cut, MattK. They'll take out the important moments, and forget to take out the so-called objectionable material. When I first started watching (and have since stopped), they forgot to take out swearing that would generally never make it past the censors.
MattK: I don't know about the US, but one problem we have with it where I live is that they can only use a fraction of the music they had the rights to use in the UK. Some of the best bits of the show are the ones with music in them, so I can only imagine that it suffers from the lack of it.
I wonder BBC America is going to start changing how much they cut. I'm watching "Not Going Out" this summer and they are putting it in a 40 minute slot so that they keep the whole original running time.
The comment in the original article that location doesn't matter was a little off the mark, I think; it's right insofar as flipping it from LA to NYC isn't going to help, but I'd say it's because neither city is the right choice. Off the top of my head, I'd have picked something like Detroit. So much of the main interest with time travel within a particular place is contrast, the divide between expectations then and what we know now, shifts in population, culture and character, etc., and a city that's been through the kind of boom/bust cycles that town has (besides, 1973: auto industry, meet oil crisis!) would be really interesting to play with. You could have a hell of a lot of fun with the music, too. And I mean, God knows New York's been through a lot of interesting changes, too, but we've all seen enough of it throughout the decades (and in plenty of cop shows, thanks) that nothing would be all that surprising.

Besides, if you're not changing the essential cast of characters much (supposedly), what DO you have but location to make it your own? What's the point? If you've gotta do it, at least do something distinctive. Otherwise, just leave well enough alone.
I'm not sure why they think British shows won't fly in the U.S., but maybe there are a lot of people like my brother, who thinks everything British is Masterpiece Theater. It took me ages to convince him to watch MI-5. "It's nothing like Jane Austen, I promise!"
Or maybe they don't want to read the subtitles. :)
The Life on Mars pilot wasn't anywhere near as good as the UK pilot, but it wasn't terrible (at least I made it through the whole thing, unlike Fringe). I'll probably leave it till I've watched a few episodes of the series proper before deciding whether I'm going to watch it.

Glad McSpaced is dead, there was no way that was ending well (though the 2 new gags I read about Marsha asking if they were called Tim and Daisy, and them playing holographic Star Wars chess sounded pretty funny).

Horrible translations do go the other way though, the UK took the occasionally very funny Will & Grace and turned it into the just dreadful Cathy Burke show Gimme Gimme Gimme.

Dear god can you imagine the US version of Dr. Who?

They 1996 TV movie was designed to work as a pilot for a Fox produced version of the show. Rather strange situation in where the pilot for the American version is counted as part of the official continuity for the original show.
[pet peeve rant] Had to comment on the video linked to in the Guardian article, supposedly to illustrate the poor performance of this other actress as Willow. This particular video is a repetitive clip reel with no ability to hear the dialogue (a song plays over it) so while her performance may have sucked, can't tell much from the video--actually curious to see the actual footage now. But mostly annoyed by the rude and inappropriate comments in response referencing the first actress' weight. Grumble.[/peeve rant]
Can we send the rubbish British shows over to America as well? Then people would stop saying our telly is so wonderful.
Personally i'm not claiming in any way that all our TV is wonderful but i'm happy to claim that our wonderful TV is wonderful ;).

They 1996 TV movie was designed to work as a pilot for a Fox produced version of the show.

I thought that was always intended to be a co-production with the Beeb Ghost Spike ? I don't think LoM US was terrible either BTW, it was worse than that - it was entirely pointless.

I think this is another reason the remake would have a difficult time: how do you stretch that story out for so long without making it totally tedious?

Exactly. The length thing is a very good point because the story just will not bear 7 seasons of 24 episodes, no way no how. So presumably they'll have to come up with some way of not making Sam's plight the focus of the show. The US Office managed to keep the Tim/Pam thing without the entire show being split between Tim/Pam and David Brent (Jim/Pam and Michael Scott) but with LoM it really is all about Sam, even the episodic elements usually contribute to his story in some (often major) way.
I have very hard to see how a American Life on mars would work. What makes Life on Mars so great is the character of Hunt and the creping feeling you get when you catch yourself thinking you wish he was the guy that guarded your neighborhood. In the US they could not do the same ting wide out taking on the subject of racism and that would make it a very different show.
I'm a bit surprised that Life on Mars is popular in America. I've lived in Britain for seven years and when we rented the DVDs and had a marathon, I had to keep pausing them and asking my husband about little cultural and historical things.

On second thought, those things weren't really important to the plots or the story. I guess I was just seeking asking for clarification on topics that I had only vaguely heard of. Like the strikes and blackouts.
I'm not against remakes per se, but 9 times out of 10 they don't work. Life on Mars looks like it's going to fall into the 9 category.

What resonates with me about the original show is the powerful sense of alienation Sam experiences when he is thrown back into the past. But gradually, as he makes friends in that era, that sense of alienation fades. I doubt it would be possible to sustain over more than 20 episodes, even if they manage to overcome all the other problems with the remake.
I thought that was always intended to be a co-production with the Beeb Ghost Spike ?

It was indeed a co-production with the BBC. All the stuff that worked on it (i.e. keeping the Doctor British) was at the insistance of the BBC. All the stuff that was wrong with it (i.e. the Doctor being half human) was at the behest of Fox. (Fox even wanted to change the theme music. The BBC fought that one until just before broadcast.)

An American LOM could work. I think it's one of those ideas for a show that can stand up to being relocated. What they need to do is a) model it after an American 70's cop show (in the same way that the original was modeled after The Sweeney), b) put it on HBO or Showtime so you don't have to water down the characters and c) give it a limited shelf life (the BBC wanted a third series of the original but the creators refused to drag it out longer as it would get ridiculous). If it must be on network TV, make it a one season show.
No one would greenlight a show to be only one season. You won't see that happen. Maybe a cable channel would make a miniseries, but a network won't greenlight a one season show.
Change the theme music ? *is gobsmacked* Bloody hell, talk about missing the point.

Yeah it definitely needs to be 2 or 3 12 episode seasons at longest I think. And that's exactly it, even over here people smack dab in the LoM target demographic grew up watching 70s US cop shows. Hell, if they did it right you could sell the remake back to us and we'd lap it up in exactly the same nostalgic way we watched the UK one (but just TV nostalgia rather than real life).

In the US they could not do the same ting wide out taking on the subject of racism and that would make it a very different show.

I dunno, I think that's exactly what it needs - if tackling race is going to give it a distinctively American look and feel then go for it (Office US seems to focus on racism more than the UK one did for instance).

And it's worth pointing out BTW that LoM UK features plenty of racism too - though it's only specifically highlighted in the one episode about the black PC. Interestingly, presumably to keep him sympathetic, although he uses racist epithets, Gene Hunt is almost always (IIRC) shown to be very fair minded and humane, it's the "typical 70s man" Ray that's shown to have a genuine mean streak. But goodies and baddies, everyone except Sam and Annie throw words like "Paki" around left right and centre. That might not mean much in the US but over here it's seen as a very derogatory term.

the Large Willow shows up around 3:30, BUT, if you watch the whole thing, you'll see that Sarah Michelle Gellar is, based on acting, the person who most likely should have been recast. Her acting actually really sucked, while the Willow actress *acts* fine, she's just not quite connecting with Brandon.

The whole pilot is on youtube, just search for 'buffy pilot'

[ edited by thespian on 2008-06-27 01:08 ]
No one would greenlight a show to be only one season.

Right. Here in the US we do it the proper way: Cancel a show after a season. Or half of one.
There was an American "Spaced"?
Very nearly batmarlowe, but it seems we've dodged a bullet there.
You know the original Life on Mars only ran 16 episodes, right?

(Granted, the producers wanted to do more, hence Ashes to Ashes...)
Would be call me filter-less if I say that I watched IT's "The Palace"? **Ducks, before getting hit by weird looks**

There must be some assessment, that there are gems everywhere, and there's also a lot of junk, okay most things are junk. Gems, are exactly its definition, rare, should be valued, but should not be taken as the rule. Importing tend to be a somewhat effective filter most of the times, but sometimes thing still get through the gaps.

Anyway, The Office is definitely the exceptions of exceptions, when the subject is US remake of UK shows. Anyone watched the attempt to adapt "Teachers"? I did, slightly less painful than Coupling, but even so, was another attempt. I already reflected too much on this subject of the need that US entertainment, have to reprocess foreign creations for its audience taste. A lot tend to be lost in the adaptation attempt (I'm so glad that the american remake for My Sassy Girl, is going direct to DVD). Clearly I've ranted about this before. Wonder if someday we'll be seeing a western version of "Hana Yori Dango", which already had live action versions from Taiwan, Japan (which for some reason was the second), and just recently a Korean version.

Into remakes, someone should check the Brazilian version of Desperate Hoursewives, is laughable, despite Disney techinical support towards the production, and desires for this type of segmentaion. Though as we talk about remakes, ABC, did succesfully remake the original Ugly Betty telenovela, into a sucessfull (tastefully questionable, though) tv show, in US business and distribution structure.

Back on the subject of Life on Mars.

The Cast, the setting and how the story was structured made all the difference. I can understand the urge to remake it, because with the right combination, it might actually have a slim chance of working, and turning out more Office, than Coupling. MY problem is, that so much of the original show, was tied to the fact that it had a endpoint, after less than 20 episodes, which is shorter than most US tv shows, let alone something that longs
for being a show with some staying time, not mini limited series.

Well, now as someone who did watch the first version for the US remake pilot, definitely the most noticeable element lacking in the show is the cast, which lacked the personality that the Original one had. And the first episode, was mostly an almost identical reshoot of the original first episode of the UK, version, only set in Boston, and with other people playing those same characters. I don't think they even bothered changing the names, like The Office did. I'm so glad they're recasting, but still something is missing. And I shouldn't even mention that what bothered me the most, is the unavoidable fact, that despite Jason O'Mara's (who happens to be another european import) strong presence, he just ain't John Simm.

Will the recasting, save the US' Life on Mars? Don't know. I'm curious about the recasting and the new pilot. Whether they'll still keep the script that David Kelley worked on, or they'll change more things (names could be changed, I'd feel so much more confortable if Jason wasn't playing Sam Tyler). Though, there's a lot more in a tv show, than just the cast, the writing and producing team behind it, must also be taken into account. Guess, we'll have to wait and see.

Wow this was long, I think I'll consider reposting this in my blog.... hahah
Yeah, we do end up with a lot of single seasons and half seasons, but no one goes into it planning it that way.
From what I've seen of the trailer, the US Life on Mars is just too loud. The original was almost understated, quieter. The American version just seems brash in comparison.

As for "Large Willow", we could debate aesthetics and how they shouldn't matter, but when it comes down to it, I really couldn't imagine her pulling off the sexy/leather vampire Willow. I think it really does show how much of the character is in the actor as opposed to the lines though. The lines might've been similar, but the character just comes across completely differently.

"No one would greenlight a show to be only one season."

I wish they would. The Inside would've been an awesome one-season only thing if they entered into it with that in mind. It's easier not to cancel it if you know you're only making a set amount of episodes too. To draw a comparison to anime (pet rant: anime is just another medium and not a genre), they have fantastic series which are just a dozen or two dozen episodes long. Even the really successful ones aren't renewed, because the story they wanted to tell they tell, and that's that. Stories need an end, and a lot of television series are written as if they're never-ending, and you just lose so much that way..

"at least I made it through the whole thing, unlike Fringe"

On a personal note, I really worry about Fringe. It's representation of science is scary -- a lot of the public perception of science is bad enough as it is at the moment, without all the crap that's in that show making it worse. The X-Files worked because it didn't claim to be science, it was something else, or at least something unexplained. With Fringe, they try to explain it using science (like the ridiculous scene I've heard about in the pilot, where two people "synchronise" brain waves to talk to each other in dreams). Not to mention the plot holes... (like somehow writing the pretty program that synchronises said brain waves when the person who did it apparently developed the technique before computers were even in mainstream use)

The way I see it, at least, is that if the audience understands science then the show'll just seem ridiculous, and if the audience doesn't understand science they'll leave the show understanding it even less. Perhaps I'm not giving the audience enough credit here, but at the moment that's the impression I get.

/sorry for the long post
Simon: Can we send the rubbish British shows over to America as well? Then people would stop saying our telly is so wonderful.

Erm, yeah, thanks for Pop Idol and The Weakest Link. :P
As for "Large Willow", we could debate aesthetics and how they shouldn't matter, but when it comes down to it, I really couldn't imagine her pulling off the sexy/leather vampire Willow.
I don't think that matters: the series would have developed differently if Willow had not been recast. And anyway, the line "Gosh look at those" could easily apply to a "large" character who isn't used to showing off her cleavage.

I think Riff Regan would have been fine and I adore AH as Willow. But it's all moot, we can never know otherwise.
Not to mention the plot holes... (like somehow writing the pretty program that synchronises said brain waves when the person who did it apparently developed the technique before computers were even in mainstream use)

To be fair to Fringe (I've seen the pilot), there isn't a program that synchorinzes people's brainwaves. There is a machine monitoring their brainwaves that shows when they are in synch. Its not a super believable show, but I'd watch more.
I could not have been dreading the American Version of Life on Mars more. Nothing and I mean nothing, I've heard about it would work. Its not the type of thing the US does well. First off, Davis Kelley was a horrible match. I could see the twee from a mile away. Hearing him bail was the only positive thing I heard. Second, it worked well as a 16 hour series but the US would wash it out to make it last longer, and no possible way could it have the same ending in this country. From the little I saw {trailer} they didn't even use Life on Mars song in the opening?

On Moffat and Coupling. I didn't realize it was him. I heard the Friends connection thing and tuned out cause I am the apparently only American who hated Friends. I guess there has been no R1 DVD release of Coupling? I'll prolly have to hunt down the UK DVDs. Thank god for multi region players! I usually have trouble with BBCamerica or even Scifi showing Brit shows cause they cut them for time, and they aren't written for commercial breaks.

I agree with the exception of Office the US needs to leave Brit TV alone. I mean, did we learn nothing from the horror that was US version of Blackpool? It's the first time I thought canceling a show on the first ep was fair.

Edited to add. I saw Fringe, I didn't hate it.

[ edited by Vinity on 2008-06-27 00:27 ]
John Simm will always be Sam but if they are determined to cast a more "hunky" Sam, Nathan would be perfect.

Of course, Nathan IS perfect.

[ edited by narnia on 2008-06-27 00:29 ]

[ edited by narnia on 2008-06-27 00:30 ]
Aww, c'mon, guys... don't be so negative! This can be at least as successful as the U.S. version of Red Dwarf!
/sorry for the long post

Hmm, did you see mine. I intended it to be a two paragraph "post-it" comment, and look what it turned out into... :P

Having seen the pilot, I'm still willing to give Fringe a considerable amount of Leap of Faith, it wasn't that bad. Though I have to agree with MattK on the science as a scary thing, bothering me.
I am no great fan of these remakes, but writing and characters aside, what makes Life on Mars so cool is the culture shock of seeing just how much things have changed in a few decades. However, I think the impact of that shock is diminished if the audience is also having to take in cultural differences from it being in a different country. So I think a US remake in this case makes sense, as it takes the elsewhere stuff out of the equation and lets the elsewhen factors shine through.

Also, I can't believe there have been fifty-plus comments on US remakes of British shows and nobody has mentioned Three's Company, which at eight seasons is probably the most successful of all.
There have been some sucessful US remakes of British shows - Sanford and Son, All In The Family... Guess it's been awhile.

I can't stand the US Office, but I love the British version.

I hate Friends too, Vinity, but I'm Canadian. Does that count?

I rather dreaded the US version of Life On Mars as well. I don't think it's a concept that sustains itself in the long run, but made a lovely little sixteen episode series. And Simm was awesome.
Casira,I agree with the location comment.the original wasn't set in London, so the US shouldn't be set in either NY or LA.
I don't know where I'd put it,since I'm not that familiar with US geography, but it should be somewhere that's not so often used in tv.

I always hear comments on my friends list of BBCA butchering Doctor Who eps, MattK, so I'd say the answer is yes.

For me it was the other way around,Ghost Spike,I watched Fringe all the way through(granted,I stopped halfway through and continued a couple of days later) unlike with LoM US, which I couldn't. Fringe sucked,too,though.It was some weird mash-up of The 4400,X-Files,Lost,Alias and many more.I loved Alias.Liked Lost when it started,though it bored me with s2 and I never looked back. I liked the lead girl, but the plot was boring and the cast was lame and it just wasn't interesting.Also, I agree with the whole 'scary science' comment.

I don't see why Americans always seem so worried with offending people. If a shows has racism implications, it's because people are racist. or they were at that time. After all, it is a reflection of society. Trying to create a show that'll offend no one makes for boring tv.
I am the apparently only American who hated Friends.

I don't like Friends (and I'm American), but I would have said it's just not my kind of show, i.e., I hate the whole genre.
Except I guess that's not true after all, because I loved Coupling.
Thespian wrote:

the Large Willow shows up around 3:30, BUT, if you watch the whole thing, you'll see that Sarah Michelle Gellar is, based on acting, the person who most likely should have been recast. Her acting actually really sucked, while the Willow actress *acts* fine, she's just not quite connecting with Brandon.

Thanks Thespian! Shoulda looked that up myself--just crazy busy, and not too much time at the computer the last couple of days :) Putting a great cast together is a tough bit of alchemy, certainly, and with an ensemble cast, is even harder to get right.

This discussion makes me remember my curiosity about the "first" Inara in Firefly (Rebecca Gayheart originally I think it was)--There's another mind bender--almost impossible to imagine. Didn't have any luck finding that--anybody seen any of it?
Going back a bit, I have two things to say about the references to Fringe above. One: I think it's silly to say this show somehow is going to negatively impact the public's view of science. Even if it were a factor, it's far outweighed by much greater factors, to the point where it's a waste to spend our time talking about Fringe in that context.

Two: The brainwave synchronization bit in the pilot (which I just re-watched), while not a "program" as such, does involve more than monitoring. Dr. Bishop specifically says the "probes" (the ones jammed into their necks) are somehow involved in the synching.

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