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Worst UK to US TV remakes: Friday Fiver

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Philip Glenster, Harvey Keitel, Life on Mars

© Rex Features / Mark Campbell/Rex Features

MTV's remake of The Inbetweeners debuts in the US on Monday night and while the original show's co-creator Iain Morris has urged fans to give the Yank revamp a fair shot, it's fair to say that the initial reaction to trailers and clips from the new show has been less than positive.

Whether or not the US Inbetweeners can defy the critics remains to be seen, but this week's Friday Fiver is taking a look at the times that US networks misfired spectacularly in their attempts to translate the success of a UK series. Seen Matt LeBlanc-starrer Episodes on Showtime or BBC Two? These are the shows that inspired it...

Coupling - aired on NBC in 2003 (Based on BBC Two's Coupling)
"I laughed a lot at Episodes," Steven Moffat tweeted last year. "It might be a specialised market, but dear God, those scenes with the execs aren't even exaggerated," adding that he found the whole scenario "painfully familiar".

Yes, poor Moffat got royally screwed over with Coupling - NBC's mangling of his popular BBC comedy is possibly the most famous example of how *not* to remake a show.

Only a few episodes were even aired before Coupling US was unceremoniously dropped from the schedules. Even former NBC president Jeff Zucker couldn't defend the remake, admitting: "It just sucked."



Life On Mars - aired on ABC from 2008-2009 (Based on BBC One's Life On Mars)
We were always a little unsure about this revamp of a much-beloved Brit drama - star Jason O'Mara never seemed like right fit to step into John Simm's shoes, though the casting of Harvey Keitel as a US Gene Hunt was pretty inspired.

But any favour the show might have curried was swiftly erased by the final episode. While the UK original boasts one of the greatest final episodes of any show ever, ABC's version revealed Sam's predicament to be the result of malfunctioning miniature brain-robots...

Our hero was actually an astronaut in the year 2035, Gene was his father 'Major Tom' Tyler and, worst of all, our leads were headed to Mars to find signs of new life. They were on a 'gene hunt' - geddit?

We've leave the final word to the original Gene Genie, Philip Glenister, who told DS: "We were shooting the last series of Ashes to Ashes and Dean [Andrews] had seen it and downloaded it. He said, 'You've got to come and see this, it's just terrible. It's a Gene Hunt - a hunt for genes'. I said 'You what?!'. We watched it, and it was just like, 'What the f**k?!'"



The IT Crowd - unaired NBC pilot in 2007 (Based on Channel 4's The IT Crowd)
Where to start with this misguided remake of Graham Linehan's excellent geek-com? We love Joel McHale, but who exactly thought it was a good idea to cast the square-jawed, charismatic Soup host as the socially inept Roy? Ditto glamourous blonde Jessica St. Clair as Jen.

The services of Richard Ayoade were wisely retained, but watching the classic Moss awkwardly interact with a new US cast just made it all the more clear how inferior this reheated pilot was to the UK original.



Spaced - unaired Fox pilot in 2007 (Based on Channel 4's Spaced)
One of the things that made the original Spaced so great was the joint creative effort of writers / stars Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson and director Edgar Wright. So naturally those behind this ill-advised project decided in their wisdom to not even consult the original trio about a US remake...

Dubbed McSpaced by an angry Wright, this particular revamp - like The IT Crowd - never even made it to air. We can't say we're particularly sorry.



Red Dwarf - unaired NBC pilots in 1992 (Based on BBC Two's Red Dwarf)
NBC were certainly keen to have their own version of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor's sci-fi sitcom, ordering two seperate pilots for their remake. But neither version nailed what had made the UK original so popular.

In particular, hiring square-jawed, bestubbled American actor Craig Bierko to play the traditionally slobbish Dave Lister was misguided. Even Bierko himself admitted as much in a 2009 interview, calling his casting a "huge mistake".



What are your thoughts on US remakes of UK shows? Could The Inbetweeners pull it off? Share your thoughts below!

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