Doctor Who Invasion of America (Networks)
Gracepoint latest U.S. remake of original U.K. TV shows
BY ALEX STRACHAN, POSTMEDIA NEWS
Success breeds success, the saying goes.
And if it’s true that imitation is the sincerest form of television, as the late radio comedian Fred Allen once said, then it’s only a matter of time before a successful popular U.K. TV show will get a North American redo.
When a show has already proven popular in the U.K., it saves a lot of creative thinking.
As recent history shows, though, North American remakes of British TV shows don’t always translate well — on either side of the Atlantic.
When Gracepoint — a U.S.-backed remake of the BAFTA-winning murder mystery Broadchurch — makes its debut next month, it’s the viewers who will decide its fate. If not enough viewers tune in, Gracepoint will quickly vanish, as others have vanished before it.
For every Three’s Company, Sanford and Son and All in the Family — TV classics, every one of them based on a U.K. original — there are countless others that sank without a trace, from Viva Laughlin, Men Behaving Badly and Absolutely Fabulous to Coupling, Life on Mars and The IT Crowd.
As with the U.S. pilot episodes for Red Dwarf and The IT Crowd, Gracepoint’s producers elected to retain one of the original’s lead actors — David Tennant as Det. Inspector Alec Hardy, adopting an American accent as Det. Emmett Carver in Gracepoint — and keep much of the script for the U.S. series, at least for the first two episodes.
Gracepoint was filmed earlier this year in Oak Bay, BC, with the Victoria suburb filling in for a seaside town in northern California. The original Broadchurch was set in a small town on England’s Dorset coast, a tiny, insular community surrounded by white-chalk cliffs, where everyone knows everyone else, and everyone has a secret to hide.
Broadchurch was an instant sensation internationally, including in the U.S., where it aired on BBC America.
It was only a matter of time before North American TV would make its own version — despite cautionary tales like Cracker, starring Robert Pastorelli in the role made famous by Robbie Coltrane, and Prime Suspect, with Maria Bello in the role immortalized by Helen Mirren. The U.S. Cracker was pulled after just 11 episodes in 1997; five more episodes were made but never aired. The U.S. Prime Suspect managed one short season of 13 episodes in 2011-12, but never returned after burning off back-to-back final episodes in January, 2012.
Expectations are riding high for Gracepoint. Broadchurch is already filming a second season in the U.K. and Tennant returned to reprise his role as Alec Hardy just days after playing Emmett Carver in Gracepoint.
Asked last month by Postmedia News about the potential pitfalls facing any adaptation of a British original, Tennant cited The Office as the standard bearer. Office-creator Ricky Gervais has said the U.S. remake exceeded all his expectations.
“Every individual case has its own merits and demerits, doesn’t it?” Tennant said. “It works both ways. It always comes down to the talents of the people involved. I’m too close to this to really be objective about it, other than I’m thrilled to be part of this cast telling this story, as I was in Britain.
“The Office is a good example, though. It was brilliant, and it was such a fantastic show to start with. It was brilliantly reimagined over here. It started similarly, but ultimately became a very different show. It was equally successful in the end, but in a different direction.”
The needs and requirements of U.K. and U.S. TV differ in other ways, as well. The U.K. model leans toward fewer episodes of series, and a year-round programming model. For all the changes affecting North American TV, the U.S. and Canadian model is still based on a September fall season, a January midseason and 22-episode seasons.
“We’re two nations divided by a common language,” Tennant said. “There’s a lot of traffic back and forth culturally, and I think there are huge advantages to that. Sometimes it backfires. On balance, though, I think we can bring contrasting sensibilities to the same piece of work, and get something exciting and new from it. I’m confident that’s what’s happened here.”
Karen Gillan takes selfie with Selfie poster
Selfie actress Karen Gillan has taken a selfie with her Selfie poster in the background, which is the most amount of times I’ve ever said selfie in one sentence. If only she’d been taking a selfie in the Selfie poster too, then I’d be on to a whole new level of selfie-action.
Gillan posted the snap up on Twitter joking, “Some people are cool… and then there’s me.”
But really, if you saw yourself on a huge great big poster like that, you’d have to take a picture wouldn’t you?
Selfie doesn’t hit screens in the US until the 30th of September, but given it’s already been made available online (on purpose, not a leak) you may very well have already seen it.
In a nutshell, Gillan’s character Eliza Dooley needs help rebranding her image after she becomes the star of a viral internet video that isn't all that flattering. She winds up with the rather interesting marketing expert Henry (John Cho) to help.