‘Downton Plantation’ and Other Unnecessary American Remakes of British TV

With ‘Broadchurch: America‘ on the horizon, we can probably expect more innocent British dramas to be clubbed on the head and dragged across the ocean for incomplete makeovers.

broadchurch american remakes of british tv

Shortly after the first 8-episode series of Broadchurch wrapped up on BBC America (already green lit for a second series in the U.K.), it was announced that David Tennant would be reprising his role in Fox’s planned American remake – with a catch. This is no spin-off or continuation, and this time around, Alec Hardy will be American.

As much as I adore Tennant (and I do), this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Because British and American societies are not the same, transplants like Life on Mars or Torchwood: Miami Miracle Day are rarely successful, especially when the showrunners copy and paste plotlines, so the pointlessness of this move astounds me. I don’t see a lot of money being made from another Broadchurch, which is a typical excuse for a reboot. I’m afraid this will start an avalanche of other improbable American remakes of British TV, so I went ahead and saved the networks the trouble of thinking them up.

Downton Plantation – I have absolutely no doubt that somewhere in a network meeting right now an American executive looks at the numbers on the ITV period drama, and says, “Where’s our Downton Abbey?” The other people in the room exchange nervous glances until one person manages to squeak, “But America’s never had a landed gentry like that.” Solution? A pre-Civil War drama set on a plantation, because doesn’t making a TV show about slaves and their owners sound like an absolutely fool-proof idea? I think a bit of the romance would get lost in translation, though.

Foyle’s War on Terror – Foyle’s War just ran on Masterpiece Mystery, and I’m convinced that if it was remade for American audiences it would feature a small town police detective-turned-Homeland Security agent who blows shit up with the tagline, “Terrorists are about to get Foyled!”

Primeval: Los Angeles – So what if the Canadians already tried and failed to get people interested in dinosaurs destroying a North American city? And just because Terra Nova didn’t work out, doesn’t mean the studios are avoiding the Jurassic business. Dinosaurs are always cool, and, okay, even I have to admit it would be pretty entertaining to watch an anomaly open up at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Whitechapel – If Broadchurch does well for Fox, the next logical theft from England would be the ITV drama about a detective with OCD and his sergeant who likes things old school, set in an area of London particularly notorious for Jack the Ripper. We’d have to find another place with a history of serial killing to set it, but I’m sure the writers of Criminal Minds could lend a hand.

Robbin’ – A modern, gritty remake of the BBC’s Robin Hood, a show that discovered it was really hard to drag that particular story out over multiple seasons. The American version will make Robin a tortured Iraq vet who comes home to find his house has been foreclosed on, so with a band of merry men, he knocks over Wall Street institutions to help those whose lives were devastated by the financial crisis.

Actually, you know what? That one’s mine.

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This article has 2 Comments

  1. they have tried and succeeded with some shows though, well two that i can think of, the office and shameless. shameless seems a bit different to the original but from what i hear it is successful. but to bring it down a bit the inbetweeners us version was a train wreck

  2. Sorry to say that Oprah has already taken up the gauntlet on a Downton spin off–it’s called “The Haves and Have Nots.” Don’t know the details–just heard it on a take away line in a commercial.

    I like the odds of Primeval: Los Angeles–who wouldn’t want to have a dino anomaly practically in one’s back yard? LOL

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