As the saying goes, you can’t win ’em all. Just take TV, for example. The fact is, we have seen hundreds of great shows in our home territories over the years, only to discover that they failed to land on the other side of the world a few years down the line. That’s fine, because like movies and all other forms of media — not everything has to garner a global reputation to be a success.
Although a TV pilot has the power to captivate a specific audience and greenlight a series, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s built for the rest of the world to see. Television is a hit-or-miss sort of business, that’s for sure. But what about the UK and its long arm of respected TV shows? Chances are, at least a dozen of them failed to set up shop overseas, right?
The Inbetweeners had a lot going for it over in the UK, with enough one-liners and off-beat characters to keep it powering on for three hilarious seasons. Its cast, made up of sixth-form students, Will (Simon Bird), Jay (James Buckley), Neil (Blake Harrison), and Simon (Joe Thomas) had a knack for brewing comedy gold from the mishaps and mayhem each of them caused. However, despite being a national success, its US counterpart failed to tap into the same vein.
Of course, the script was tweaked ever so slightly for it to relate to an American audience. The problem was, sadly, that it just didn’t pack the same punch as the original, making it a subpar port with little to no life to keep it afloat. It did have a complete first season, but unfortunately, it failed to greenlight the second and third due to having such poor reviews.
The UK had a knack for exploring controversial topics during the mid-2000s. It often expressed said topics through the likes of TV shows and movies. Take Skins, for example. It shouldn’t have been allowed, but it was, despite being criticized by a whole lot of viewers over its long and relatively healthy reign.
The show featured teens tackling adult scenarios and situations, so it was sure to ruffle a few feathers at some stage. However, the series was eventually ported over to the US for a full-fledged remake, using a similar script and cast. Unsurprisingly, it fell flat in the ratings, with critics expressing disappointment in the adaptation.
The Jeremy Kyle Show
Jeremy Kyle is seen as a bit of a national treasure over in the UK, with an admirable 3,300 live appearances on his self-titled faux-drama show under his belt since 2005. But his attempt at cracking the US market, on the other hand, has been less than successful.
Unfortunately for Kyle, his US show failed to garner an audience size similar to that in the UK. Plus, with the likes of Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, and Dr. Phil already covering the monopoly, the ambitious series was almost destined to fall flat from day one. The series was canned after just two seasons.
Saturday Night Takeaway
Ant and Dec, the dynamic duo of British primetime TV, has been churning out seasons of their award-winning show Saturday Night Takeaway for the better part of twenty years. Their US spin-off, Best Time Ever, however, struggled to get so much as a couple under its belt.
Even with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Nicole Scherzinger, and Reese Witherspoon around to fly the new colors, the remake sadly failed to establish itself as a worthy accessory to primetime TV. After just eight episodes, it was canned, leaving the guys over at NBC to bow their heads and learn from their mistakes.
As If was a Channel 4 comedy-drama that cast its focus on six young adults trying to pass through life in the City of London. As If, the US remake, was the same thing, only with Los Angeles instead of the beloved Big Smoke as a setting.
Despite having relatively positive reviews from its first episode, the US remake unfortunately only managed to air just three of the seven planned episodes before being pulled from the network. With other shows pulling in much higher ratings, the show struggled to greenlight a second season, whereas the UK had four over three years.
There was once a time when Jack Whitehall ruled the British TV monopoly, especially with his universally acclaimed comedy Bad Education. Fast-forward to 2004, where Whitehall was set to launch a third season of the show, and a US remake was suddenly put in motion.
With a pilot being filmed for the American port, and Whitehall even reprising his role as Alfie Wickers, everything was set to release. However, before being aired, ABC passed up on the show, leaving Whitehall to return to the UK to continue with the original series.
Blackpool, being one of the UK’s hidden TV gems from 2004, was never really going to work on the other side of the pond. The deeply British musical was destined to be difficult to adapt, even with Hugh Jackman, no stranger to musicals himself, fronting the cast for the US remake.
Although Blackpool only had a single season on its own, its US version, Viva Laughlin, on the other hand, was pulled from the network after airing just two episodes, with critics even saying its pilot was one of the worst in the history of television.
Gavin & Stacey
Gavin & Stacey was a British favorite for well over a decade thanks to the talented duo James Corden and Ruth Jones is at the helm. In fact, the script was so well-received, that the two writers were asked to construct a mid-season remake for an American audience.
Having seven episodes drafted and filmed, the spin-off was set to release by 2014. However, due to Fox making a last-minute call to pull the series, it, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the public until 2018, when streaming service Crackle decided to dig it up and air it online.
The IT Crowd
Looking for a way to cash in on the critical success that surrounded the award-winning comedy, The IT Crowd creators looked to port the cult-classic series over to the States, with Richard Ayoade even reprising his role as the loveable IT misfit Maurice Moss.
Unfortunately, despite having a few returning co-stars, the American pilot failed to captivate the audience, including the suits over at NBC. As a result, the series was canceled before filming or releasing any more episodes.
After clocking the endless flow of success that gravitated towards British comedy Spaced, Fox announced that it would be commissioning an American pilot for 2008. However, despite having a clear interest in the series, Fox producers failed to reach out to the show’s sources, which of course ruffled a few feathers over in the UK.
Edgar Wright, who directed the series, along with most of Simon Pegg’s movies, was, of course, asked for general input on the pilot. However, with Wright expressing his annoyance over the fact none of the original cast was involved, the two parties eventually parted ways, resulting in a scrapped pilot and a wound-up director.
Nothing better than choosing between two great opportunities!
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