Posted by: wolferiver | November 11, 2006

British Shows on American TV

It looks like the networks are going after British shows with a vengeance. Check it out here. That is, they’re buying concepts and retooling them for American audiences. I have no particular ax to grind about this topic. American networks have done this with success in the past (Sanford and Son, Three’s Company) and also spectacularly badly (Couples, Cracker). I’m only too happy to see good stuff appear on my tube, and don’t care all that much where the inspiration came from. I wonder ; does this mean that the Beeb is becoming the farm team for American networks? Would that be so bad?

It has been my observation that generally speaking, most British shows suffer from a lack of polish. That is, they’re usually well written, both from a plotting standpoint and a dialog standpoint, they’re invariably well acted, and production values are usually at least adequate. However, I’ve always thought that there’s a general lack of attention to careful casting, which I find somewhat annoying. I’ve no doubt that I’m well conditioned by American network fare, but I’ve come to appreciate the careful (perhaps even obsessive) casting that can be found in most American TV. Sure, this doesn’t always happen on this side of the pond, either, but I like the shorthand characteriziation that comes from having an actor LOOK like the character he’s playing ought to look.

One reason that I’ve been thinking about this in particular, is that I’ve just downloaded the first three episodes of Torchwood, the BBC’s spinoff from their successful reincarnation of the new Doctor Who series. I find myself reluctant to actually watch them, because I’m worried that the casting will be badly done. John Barrowman’s Captain Jack can easily go over-the-top and appear silly. Furthermore, I’m not convinced that John Barrowman has the chops for a television show. Captain Jack was a very interesting character in the first season of Doctor Who, but can he successfully carry his own?

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