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June 29 2011

Variety reports Dichen Lachman returning to TV series. She's playing a regular in Being Human, based upon the BBC original. She's also in BBC/Starz production Torchwood next month.

I can totally see her doing this. I haven't watched the U.S. Being Human. Is it any good?
She's still Katya from Neighbours to me (and probably most of Britain too)
Torchwood is more like just over a week rather than a month, technically.
Well, there is now a reason to start watching Being Human (US). I saw the first episode and it was okay. Not as good as the UK version.
I saw this on Twitter & didn't realize it was the US Being Human. (Didn't know there was a US one--guess I don't keep up very well.) Watched the first few episodes of the UK one ages ago and liked it OK. Feeling disappointed now. I hope it's good!
Although I'm happy for Dichen, I wish the US would stop re-making wonderful UK series. I don't understand why they don't just screen the UK series. (Or maybe they do sometimes, in which case there seems even less reason to re-make the UK series).

Does anyone know of a US remake of a UK series that they think was better than the original? (That's not a rhetorical question, I'm honestly curious).
Bluey, The Office seems to have done okay in the US.
Wonderful! I am really enjoying Being Human on Syfy. I love watching both versions. They do show the UK version here. It's on BBC America.

Good for Dichen (which is the main point that should not be lost here in the inevitable ages old gripefest about the US remaking UK shows)!

Now can someone please get Summer a job?!
No no no, the Being Human remake SUCKS!!! :-(
As far as US remakes of BBC shows go, I think THE OFFICE was better in many ways in the US version. Ricky Gervais > Steve Carrell, but rest of the NBC version > than the rest of the BBC version. Gervais was amazing, but I loved the depth of the cast as it appeared on the American version. Also, remember that ALL IN THE FAMILY was a remake of a British show.

I am a huge, huge fan of the BBC version of BEING HUMAN. Of the SyFy version, not so much. The American version had some really major problems. Much sleeker rather than gritty; not nearly as dark.

The difference can be seen an a huge Emo voiceover that begins each episode of the SyFy version. It is pretty hard to take.

Character by character, the American vampire Aidan is a pale imitation of Mitchell. I don't dislike Sam Witmer, who plays Aidan (I liked him as Crashdown on BSG), but he doesn't have the huge charisma that Aidan Turner has as Mitchell.

The ghost on the American version is really pretty and very sweet, but I don't think she manages the depth of Annie on the BBC version.

Sam Worthington is very good as the American werewolf, the best of the three on the American show, but it is tough to match up with Russell Tovey.

I don't actually hate the American version, but neither do I think it is better than the BBC version in a single way. My biggest beef with it is that it just imitated the BBC version for the first 3/4ths of the first season. I would have liked it better if it had really departed from the BBC version. Instead it was an inferior imitation.

That said, I'm anxious to see Dichen in it. I definitely can see her as a vampire.
I watched some episodes of the remake of Life on Mars and thought it was okay, but I haven't seen the original. I can see some sense in remaking comedies, because British and American senses of humor are somewhat different and a lot of the cultural references in a topical show are not going to be familiar on this side of the pond. I don't watch sitcoms, but All in the Family and The Office have been both popular and praised by critics.

When it comes to drama and genre shows, I wish they would air the original series before the remake, but we only see British TV here on PBS, BBC America, and some of the comedy cable channels. Doing an American remake of a successful British TV series is a bit like setting one of Shakespeare's plays in the antebellum South or the 1930s; it may bring out latent possibilities, but usually works better if the audience is already familiar with the original version.

That said, American audiences have had a lot more exposure to British performers and British culture than we had twenty-five years ago, and we have gotten sufficiently accustomed to hearing a variety of British accents that they are commonly used in TV commercials (along with accents from Commonwealth countries), which I don't remember being the case in the past. The language barrier (simply not being able to understand the dialogue) may have been a deterrent to importing British shows in the past, but I think mainstream American audiences are less insular today and are probably ready to watch some shows that were originally produced for audiences in other countries.
Yeah, shows from other countries (not just the UK) seem less a niche thing in the US now (I mean they still are, just less so) and foreign characters often appear just as characters rather than "wacky Greek best friend", "stiff-arsed Brit" or whatever. The net, cable and quick 'n' easy importing from places like Amazon have made the world a smaller place entertainment wise.

To me the best remakes take the idea or format and then run with it in an American direction ('The Office' US got much better in season 2 IMO, when they stopped imitating the UK show - not sure if it's better than the original BTW but of what i've seen it's definitely different in a good way). The worst are those that try to remake scene for scene (because why ?) or completely miss what made the original work in the first place. US shows are almost always slicker for instance and sometimes not being slick is part of what makes something work (and sometimes what made it good is culture/location specific - you can set a Western in the UK for instance but you have to tweak/subvert it to acknowledge within the show that clearly the UK is entirely unsuited to Westerns. On the other hand you can just move Westerns lock stock and barrel to somewhere like Australia and have more or less exactly the same thing but with an interesting local twist, as with e.g. 'The Proposition').

And sometimes of course, the magic really is just down to the performers or the writer's unique voice/vision (and in UK telly it's fairly often a writer) - take those away, as almost always happens when shows hop the pond, and you lose it (one of the few aspects of the US 'The IT Crowd' that made me think it could succeed, creatively at least, was keeping Richard Ayoade as Moss). The other thing US TV isn't always great at is knowing when to stop - some stories just aren't 7 seasons long, whatever the network might want and end-aversion can be the enemy of effective storytelling.

And good for Dichen, show won't be worse with her in it. Dunno if i'll start watching the US one just for her but maybe (particularly since I suspect the UK one may only have another series or so left in it).
Very glad to hear it! I enjoyed her so much on Dollhouse.

I also liked the US remake of Being Human. Bluey, I had the same question you did. I wondered why there was a whole new version when the UK version seemed well-received. As janef pointed out, Americans are definitely used to more British and English speakers from other countries in US productions these days. So I watched both versions of the first season to find out. (It was a few months ago and I don't remember which I watched first.)

In the end, I decided I preferred the American version. Probably because I'm American. The characters resonated with me more. I think at the end of the day, the characters were just more identifiable. And little things like humor here and there and other culture-based things all made the package just more identifiable, I suppose.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the British production. I could just relate to the American characters more.

As Njal pointed out, the US production is sleeker. The first several episodes didn't do much for me, but by the end the show won me over. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it. Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think I finished the end of the first British season.

And I love Crashdown. The voiceovers didn't bother me either. :D

ETA: I thought it was silly at first, but the American version has much darker overtones by the end of the first season, more so than one would expect if s/he just watched the first few episodes. Also, I can't help but wonder if Njal is British and could just relate to the British characters more.

[ edited by WhoIsOmega? on 2011-06-30 13:18 ]
For me the first two series of Being Human UK were just ok, it didn't really hit its stride until the third series. Those episodes were exceptional. I think any remake would be hard pressed to match them.
The first series in particular was pretty hit and miss, almost stopped watching after the second or third ep. (mainly because George is so, so annoying and not well acted by Russell Tovey - IMO, obv.).

The sense of humour thing's interesting to me because I always saw it as more or less a myth - some (maybe most) of my favourite comedies are from the US and the things that make us laugh (culturally specific references aside) seem pretty similar. As to the biggest myth of all, most of the Yanks i've come across have no problem getting irony (though you guys seem to use it less often).

There are differences I think, particularly as to the extent of various joke types e.g. "taking the piss", jokes that're ostensibly at someone's expense but are actually affectionate instances of social bonding seems more common in the UK and Commonwealth countries. Americans seem less comfortable with out and out losers - compare David Brent to Michael Scott for instance - and with self-deprecating humour in general but by and large, not all that big a gap. Maybe it's more one way than I thought though ? I.e. we may appreciate your humour more than you appreciate ours ?

[ edited by Saje on 2011-06-30 13:59 ]
Haven't ever watched Being Human but congratz to Dichen. She was one of the good things about Dollhouse.

you can set a Western in the UK

I have never seen a Western set in the UK. That would be too weird.
And sometimes of course, the magic really is just down to the performers or the writer's unique voice/vision (and in UK telly it's fairly often a writer) - take those away, as almost always happens when shows hop the pond, and you lose it (one of the few aspects of the US 'The IT Crowd' that made me think it could succeed, creatively at least, was keeping Richard Ayoade as Moss).

This is precisely why I glad that the US version of "Spaced" never materialized. There were some good people cast in it, from what I recall, but there was no way it would capture the magic that Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, and Edgar Wright created. Especially since they weren't even asked to be involved in it in any way.

Looking forward to Torchwood: Miracle Day. I haven't been a much of a fan of Torchwood, but this looks to be really good.
Definitely agree on Spaced, no need to mess with that. Wife and I enjoy the SyFy Being Human, we saw it prior to seeing any of the UK version so when we did sit down to watch the original we were fairly biased/distracted by what we'd already come to know. I'm sure as per usual the original product is better, but I do think the US version has a much better werewolf. Very happy for Dichen, that's good news. I'll add the dreadful AMC version of The Prisoner to the growing list of UK shows that easily best their remakes.
I prefer the U.K. "Being Human," but the U.S. one has its good points. My favorite U.S. episode was when Josh the werewolf finally went home to see his parents - that seemed uniquely Jewish-American. I think Dichen Lachman will be an asset to any show she joins - I am guessing she plays a vamp :)
Woo wee.. Dichen is going to be here in Montreal (unless they changed shooting location)
Let the stalking begin! (: .... well maybe just keep an eye out for her!
@"Does anyone know of a US remake of a UK series that they think was better than the original?"

The US remake of Life on Mars was much, much better -- except for the final episode which they did on short notice (and were constrained by having to come up with an idea that would work on a low budget and could be shot essentially as a stand-alone episode). If you delete the last episode of the US version of Life on Mars, the US version of Life on Mars was far superior to the UK original. Partly because of casting (the UK cop did not look strong enough to be a cop) and partly because the expanded budget which allowed for a better recreation of the era. And partly because Harvey Kietel was fantastic as the Chief in the US version.
Ha. I'm pretty sure there's a whole bunch of people who would disagree with everything you just wrote, will.
Well I can't think of any other shows that were better in the US version, so, we'd usually agree. Haven't seen the US Being Human yet, because the original UK was so dreary (good, but dreary)... But I'll check it out for Dichen.
Yeah, Saje. Maybe the humor thing is a myth. But I can definitely say that when I was younger I didn't get the humor in British shows at all. These days I have a much greater appreciation for irony. No one does it as well as Brits, IMO of course. Americans are a little less comfortable with "taking the piss" I think.

Glad to read the comments about the UK version getting better later. It's not surprising, as the good shows always do.

I'm inclined to watch more of both series now.

ETA: will, I would not describe the US version as "so dreary." You might like it.

[ edited by WhoIsOmega? on 2011-07-01 01:37 ]
Yeah, gossi and will, count me in the disagreeing camp. And I'm American.

I didn't hate the US Life On Mars, but I LOVED the UK Life On Mars. I thought the casting was utter perfection, John Simm included.

Couldn't get into the UK Being Human, but hearing some say it gets better might sway me into giving it another shot. And now Dichen makes me want to try the US one. Maybe.
'Life on Mars' is a special case in some ways though, since some of its appeal is nostalgia based and again, because the rest of the world gets a lot of US TV (and has done for decades) we may have a sense of America in the 70s that most non-Brits won't have for Britain in the 70s (with details like the TV test card and so on), we can feel nostalgic about it at one remove because it reminds us of the US TV we watched when we were younger.

But yep, FWIW, I disagree completely, the UK 'Life on Mars' is kind of a masterpiece IMO and the ending especially is something I just don't think you'd see on US network TV (and the whole point of Sam not looking "strong enough to be a cop" is that he's a gentler kind of policeman compared to Gene, from a different era where physical strength is less important. I wouldn't recast John Simm for all the tea in proverbs).

Especially since they weren't even asked to be involved in it in any way.

And not only that, the remakers apparently went around saying Pegg/Hynes/Wright were 100% behind the remake when they hadn't even been approached. Bit naughty that.

[ edited by Saje on 2011-07-01 06:58 ]
Ha, yeah did you see that US Spaced pilot episode that's floating around the internet? So thankful that didn't get made.

I really enjoyed the fisrt episode or two of the UK Being Human but I had to stop after the third episode cus I couldn't get over the way George completely ignored the fact that someone had tried to sexually assualt Annie in her own home. Not only ignored, in fact, but let the guy keep living in the house even though Annie was obviously upset about what happened and didn't feel safe around him.

Sorry, I know I should just get over it and keep watching cus it gets better but that just made me so angry I ranted about it for days to anyone who would listen.

If the US version doesn't do that shit then I might give it a go.
Better? Red Dwarf.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding!

I started watching the US Being Human first. Now that I've seen the UK version I wasn't sure if I'd continue, but there's enough differences and I like the cast enough that Dichen clinches it for me.

All In the Family maybe?
digupherbones, I believe the other werewolf is dealt with in one episode in the U.S. version. The point of George being so horrible in the U.K. version, however, was because his wolfier side was coming out - in other words, the show wasn't condoning George's behavior, it was using the behavior (ignoring the assault) to try to illustrate that he was turning into a monster. redeem147, I was just about to give "All in the Family" as an example! :)
I preffer the US Being Human to the UK original one, maybe cause I was very pissed about the changes between the original pilot (that one was darker, had a good villain and better actors, while the series gets the only actor I didn't liked - the werewolf guy).
Nothing against remakes (yeah, it's strange people with the same language doing it, but here too, there is a bit weirdness with movies from Portugal). Sometimes good things can happen, like Ugly Betty, liked from many people that didn't knew the terrible Latin original and it's sequels

I have never seen a Western set in the UK. That would be too weird.

Wasn't Outcasts somekind of brit (okay, another planet) space-western?
Arguably yeah Brasilian Chaos Man but it wasn't set in the UK (aside from being "actually" set on an alien world, it was filmed in South Africa. And very nice it looked too, though unfortunately that's about all it had going for it IMO). Been trying to think of any genuine westerns set in the UK and drawing a blank though you could make a crypto-western case for a few shows/films like e.g. 'Hamish MacBeth'.

Clearly a niche waiting to be filled !
What interesting and insightful discussion! I apologise for not coming back to this thread sooner to partake in it (and now I'm probably too late - oh well).

It's funny reading all the George dislike up-thread, because he's my favourite character (and actor) on the UK Being Human. One thing I liked from the get-go with the series was the ability of the show to go from dark to joke quickly and in my opinion, successfully, in a way that reminded me very much of Buffy. If I remember correctly, George got a lot of the comedic elements, which might be why I liked his character so much. (He reminds me of Xander).

It's an interesting point made above by many about international humour differences. I'd never thought about it that way before particularly, maybe because I'm Australian and we get both Brit and US TV series - so I'm used to both. I agree that the UK and Australia have more self-deprecating humour than the US.

The thing is, both Life on Mars and Being Human were very 'British' to me, and that's part of what I liked about them, as well as the fact that I thought the writing and acting was very good.

So I think for me to think a US version was good the re-makers would have to re-interpret the original rather than just re-make it (another point made upthread with respect to the Office). The re-maker's then have the extra hurdle of overcoming the fact that they will be removing one of my favourite things about the show from it - it's 'Britishness', which means it has to be even better for me to like it!

(I do realize that I am not the target audience for the US version).

But bringing Dichen on board is definitely a step in the right direction.
Thanks, Saje. I believe you're right about the lack of qualities of Outcasts, a BSG wannabe. (Didn't knew it was filmed in Africa, but Fred Mercury was from there too and for many time I had no clue of it).

Bluey, Russell Tovey is a good actor, but not in dramatic moments. I loved his comedies moments in Him & Her but his serious attempts don't go well. Of course, IMHO.

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