For every mega-hit like The Office, there’s an aborted Spaced or Red Dwarf. We’re talking US remakes of classic British sitcoms here, and while they can on occasion be incredibly successful, the humour more often than not gets lost in translation. (Not that we as a country fair much better, it has to said – ever see our remake of The Golden Girls? Oof.)
Showrunner Greg Daniels and The Office team successfully bucked this trend by wisely borrowing the universal archetypes of Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant’s 13-episode masterpiece, ditched the scripts after a single episode, and created a rich new universe that consistently delivered huge laughs and plenty of heart over the course of nine years. Attempts to port the idiosyncrasies of Spaced were anything but ‘fried gold’, and despite two cracks at it, Red Dwarf crashed and burned.
Next up is BBC’s hit genre comedy Ghosts, which shot its US pilot in December and has since been greenlit for a full series. It makes the headlines again this week as it’s been reported via Deadline that Doom Patrol’s Devon Chandler Long (Flex Mentallo) has joined the cast as a series regular, the Viking Thorfinn, one of the titular spirits. Long will join leads Rose McIver (iZombie), and Utkarsh Ambudkar (The Mindy Project). (And that’s it, so yes, basically we’ve just used Devan as an excuse to voice our trepidation on the project and pimp the original!)
Devan Chandler Long
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of checking out the BBC series yet (all available on iPlayer), it follows a young couple – Alison (the supernaturally likable Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Stath Lets Flats’ Kiell Smith-Bynoe) - who inherit a mansion. After Alison gets into an accident, she goes full-Hayley Joel Osment and can now see that their new home is riddled with a whole host of interesting dead folk, ranging from a monosyllabic Neanderthal to a Tory numpty. Written and co-starring the talented ensemble of comedians previously best known for bringing the Horrible Histories books to life - Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, and Ben Willbond – the show not only has a superb, potential-filled premise, but it’s damn funny to boot. It’s also rare in that its comedy has a wide-ranging appeal, it’s occasionally more adult-skewing gags never too blue for the younger members of a household.
In short: please don’t ruin it, CBS.
And don’t get us started on their planned remake of This Country.