Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday morning links

Two, two, two columns for the price of one today. Well, technically one ran yesterday, but who wants to be technical?

First up is a discussion from Sunday of why some foreign translations ("The Office," "Ugly Betty") work and some don't ("Coupling"). Today, I reviewed "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy," a Lifetime movie I actually didn't hate.


Tosy And Cosh said...

Is it fair to say that the character of Archie Bunker was shaped around Carroll O'Connor's personality? Certainly I never met him, but his Archie would seem to have been a wholly original creation - not like Foxx's Sanford, who was more clearly a less ribald variation of Foxx's stand-up persona. Whenever I've seen Foxx elsewhere, it has basically seemed like Sanford, whereas the only other two O'Connor performances I've seen - in In the Still of the Night (?) and the rom-com Return to Me - were wildly different than Archie Bunker.

Anonymous said...

Not that you were trying for completeness, but I think Sunday night's sleeper "Cold Case" is an imported version of the BBC's "Cold Squad."

Anyway, you're right about Coupling; I've recently seen a couple seasons (er, "series") of the original, and it's a masterpiece of comedy that's just as you describe. Too bad they couldn't import it well; perhaps they'll try again and stick with the original scripts. It's nice to see a good sex-comedy that's not on cable.

Finally, I've got anxieties about David Kelley importing Life on Mars-- I believe that the casting will matter a great deal, but the setting even moreso. I've sworn off new shows, especially cop shows, that're set in LA and New York because I've had enough, but if they pick just the right city with the right mix of changes and nothing-ever-changes between 1970s and today-- I'm hoping for San Francisco. Possibly with Karl Malden. That's the trouble with translating a show from London, because, at its age, the whole city doesn't have a single flavor, so there's lots of local flavor. American cities don't quite manage that, I think, which means setting it in, *sigh*, New York or LA.

R.A. Porter said...

"Life on Mars" took place in Manchester - hence the awesome Man U vs. Man City murder episode and lyrical northern accents. An appropriate city in America would be like Pittsburgh or Detroit or even Philly. Hmm. Scratch Detroit. Modernization still hasn't really hit there.

I think the bigger problem is David E. Kelley. I'm not confident he can import the show without making it too much his own.

Anonymous said...

Okay then, I just failed English-geography-as-taught-by-tv! I don't know how I didn't pick up that they weren't in London from the football-fan murder episode, but BBC shows tend to be terribly afflicted with city-flyover shots as place-setting, something LoM was spared only because it's such an anachronism. (Plus it's hard to tell cities from neighborhoods in towns you've never been to.) Even the new Torchwood had half a dozen "Still in Cardiff" flyover shots of what must now be the only identifiable-from-air location in Wales. At least it has no gherkin buildings.

Yeah, I like Philly or Pittsburgh (more the former), and one could always expose a city that doesn't get much TV time, like Memphis (might skew the audience, but so what), St. Louis. Baltimore would do the trick, I bet. New Orleans?

Right about Kelley, he likes to make a name-brand of his shows. Which could mean LoM is in Boston, for one thing. But yeah, he could be a danger to the originality of the other. Plus I bet the coma element will get ramped up from subtle nightmare to an in-your-face horror which would get old, fast.

Anonymous said...

I found myself disagreeing with your take on Coupling (US). What struck me as odd was that some of the characters were different from their UK counterparts. That stood out most with Sally, who is bitter and mean in the original but came off as a perky blonde in the US. Sally has a line in the pilot where, after denying that she's attracted to Patrick, Patrick asks Sally why she was watching his butt. "I was lip reading." she rebuts.

In the UK version Kate Isitt makes that line drip with venom but in the US version it was delivered like a cutesy one-liner. The joke suddenly wasn't funny because the tension between her and Patrick didn't exist.

As for Life on Mars, I remain hopeful. On The Practice, Kelley has been one of the few writers to depict law enforcement as more interested in solving the crime in time for dinner, even if it means finding the wrong person, which is a major aspect of the original.

Personally, I'm hoping for San Francisco as the setting, if only for the potential references to Dirty Harry, who was in many ways Gene Hunt.