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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


July 15, 2007

Review: Hyperdrive 2.1

Posted on July 15, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Hyperdrive

In the UK: Thursdays, 9.30pm, BBC2. Repeated Wednesdays, BBC2.

The makers of Hyperdrive do not like their show compared to Red Dwarf. Tough, because comparisons are informative in this case. Red Dwarf started out as a show that answered a specific question about sci-fi shows. While all these flashy officers mill around saving the universe, who's cleaning out the chicken soup dispensers for them and making sure the lavatories work? Where's the working class gone and what are they doing?

Hyperdrive has a pretty similar premise except shifted from blue collar workers to white collar workers. Imagine a starship run by the sort of people who staff the numerous, not very effective small businesses based in industrial estates off the M4. They need jobs too, don't they?

That's Hyperdrive's joke: a bunch of not very talented but quite nice people running a starship like an office, from the slightly dodgy overweight manager (Nick Frost) who never really applies himself but tries his best with an equally incompetent staff, through to the constantly irritated IT guy who's a law to himself.

And if that were that, it would be a pretty dismal show. In fact, it's only an 80% dismal show thanks to the presence of that shining jewel in the crown of British comedy, Kevin Eldon.

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July 15, 2007

Review: James May's 20th Century

Posted on July 15, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

James May's 20th Century

In the UK: Tuesdays, 8pm, BBC2

Funny, isn't it? It used to be that BBC2 was chock full of educational programmes. Well, that and Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes films, re-runs of The Invaders and the only halfway decent sitcoms on tele.

Now, if you do find anything educational on - and unless you're a night owl, it'll be pretty tricky - you can usually guarantee two things about it

  1. It's produced in association with the Open University
  2. It's hosted by Adam Hart-Davis

Times have changed again though. Hart-Davis has defected to the History Channel, which means a brave new host is needed. That host is Top Gear's James May. You know, the least interesting one.

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July 10, 2007

Remakes: any good ones?

Posted on July 10, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Touching Evil

It can't have escaped anyone's notice that remakes - aka “format purchasing” - have become all the rage in the US of late (and other countries, too). The forthcoming Fall season has shows like Viva Laughlin (remake of the UK's Viva Blackpool) and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (remake of the UK's Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares) as well as existing remakes, such as Ugly Betty, The Office and many other minor shows on cable networks (eg Spouse Swap, Faking It, etc).

It's a good plan. Why bother having to come up with new series when you can buy in existing successful series from other countries? And why risk having the audience being unable to relate to a different country filled with people who have funny accents and maybe even speak a different language when you can buy the format behind a show more cheaply and then make it yourself with your own cast and your own scripts?

However, there's a realm of possible pain here. As you'll have noticed from the demise of US versions of Coupling, Absolutely Fabulous and other shows, it's possible to lose all the things made a show good in its native country when you remake it.

I'm assuming something like this happened when the networks failed to pick up a remake of BBC4's The Thick of It. As we all know, The Thick of It is rather excellent, so quite why the US networks weren't interested is unfathomable unless there were some bad cock-ups along the way.

Is it always the case that a remake has to be worse than the original?

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