The 11 Worst American Remakes Of British Shows

Unfortunately lost in the translation, or blindingly awful production decisions? You decide! Hint: The second one is the answer.

11. Cold Feet

The U.S. version of Cold Feet followed three Seattle couples and starred David Sutcliffe and Jean Louisa Kelly. It was canceled after setting a record for the lowest ratings ever in the NBC’s Friday 10 p.m. time slot.

10. Skins

The Guardian: “MTV’s US remake lobotomised Skins.”

Gawker: “Skins: Americans ruin everything.”

MTV: “Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped.”

Anyway, decide for yourself. This is what it looked like.

9. Absolutely Fabulous

Starring Third Rock From the Sun’s Kristen Johnston as Patsy and Kathryn Hahn as Edina, the 2009 attempt to make Ab Fab palatable for an American audience never got past the pilot, despite a good deal of hype in the media.

Asked about her portrayal of Patsy by Entertainment Weekly, Johnston said, “I think they captured the exact amount of sweetie-darling. I mean, it’s a totally different element, it’s a totally different show. We don’t smoke, we are hungover all the time, we chew Nicorette, we’re trying to be more PC, but I think it really works.” It didn’t.

8. The IT Crowd

The U.S. version of The IT Crowd saw Richard Ayoade reprising his role as Moss, and brought in Joel McHale (who would go on to star in the much-better-received Community) to play Roy. A full series was ordered for NBC in 2007, but no one at the network liked it enough to let it see the light of day.

If you’re feeling in the mood for an odd and not entirely rewarding time-sink, you can watch the full pilot episode here, and below is a scene-by-scene comparison of the opening sequences of the British and American versions.

7. The Inbetweeners

This MTV remake failed to resonate with anyone and was humanely put out of its misery after a season. Have a look at “Bus Wankers” vs. “Bus Turds” to get a sense of why.

6. The Young Ones

Oh, No! Not THEM!, the attempt by Get A Life and The Simpsons writer David Mirkin to recreate The Young Ones for an American audience was to feature Nigel Planer reprising his role as Neil alongside a cast of American actors.

According to Robert Llewellyn’s book The Man in the Rubber Mask, filming didn’t go so well:

“The Young Ones was taken over the Atlantic in the mid eighties, and Nigel [Planer] was the only member of the British cast to go. He had experienced a fairly hideous time, worried sick that he was going to have to stay there for six years with a group of people he hated who managed to make The Young Ones into a sort of grubby Benny Hill Show. He was hugely relieved when the pilot was a flop and he was released from his contract.”

Fox, the network producing the series, have never allowed the pilot to see the light of day, so we will just have to speculate about how unpleasant it was.

5. Men Behaving Badly

The U.S. version of Men Behaving Badly featured Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider and it lasted for one and a half seasons and 35 episodes. Here’s a taste of what it was like (Spoiler: It was garbage).

4. Coupling

Coupling U.S. was canceled after four episodes on NBC in 2003 after it failed to perform in the ratings. Adding insult to injury, BBC America ran ads saying that they would air episodes of the British version directly after the new adaptation, so viewers could compare and contrast.

Newsweek panned the show, saying that it gave “sex, comedy, and television a bad name,” but the most damning review of all came from NBC President Jeff Zucker himself: “It just sucked.”

Note that the script is essentially verbatim.

3. Dad’s Army

A 1976 attempt at Dad’s Army featuring an American Civil Defense unit. Excruciating.

2. Spaced

Executive produced by McG, of Charlie’s Angels (the movie) fame, the American Spaced was met with such rage by anyone who loved the original that it arrived dead in the water. Also, judging from the pilot, it was unrelentingly painful to watch.

Simon Pegg described the project thusly: “My main problem with the notion of a Spaced remake is the sheer lack of respect that Granada/Wonderland/Warner Bros have displayed in respectively selling out and appropriating our ideas without even letting us know.” Pegg’s full statement makes for some good reading.

1. Fawlty Towers

American producers have tried three times to remake Fawlty Towers, first with something called Chateau Snavely starring Betty White, then with the profoundly unfortunate Bea Arthur vehicle Amanda’s, and finally with something called Payne, starring John Larroquette. None of them made it past their tenth episode.

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