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Doctor Who (1996)
Doctor Who: The Movie
When it was announced in the mid nineties that Doctor Who, which had been cancelled in 1989 after twenty six years, was making a return, this time as a co- production between the BBC and the American Network Fox, it can be understandable that some fans were a little hesitant over what would happen to the show if it was being developed by an American network. Would the TV film retain the shows British quality, but at the same time introduce the show to an American audience in an appropriate manner? the answer is- yes... and no. the film ultimately failed in America due to poor ratings and as a result no series followed. however the film was a success in the UK. despite there being some flaws to this film and reception amongst fans being divided, this film works as a decent continuation of where the series left and in my opinion, one of Doctor Who's finest moments.
Many fans will notice the large shift of quality between this film and the original series. the film has big budget special effects which looked pretty good for the time, the new design of the Tardis interior is very well made and its influence on the later interior designs in the revived series can be seen. the soundtrack is composed by Hollywood composer, John Debney, who later goes on to score the soundtrack for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Debney does a great job in creating the intensity of the film, and his new arrangement of the shows iconic theme (originally composed by Ron Grainer) is also very well done. I also like the inclusion of the seventh doctor, Sylvester McCoy, (despite the fact that he is only in it for the regeneration scene fifteen minutes in). Paul McGann, who plays the eighth incarnation of the Doctor, does a fantastic job and it is kind of a shame that he only got to play the Doctor once. as a result, McGann's time as the eccentric time traveller was very brief, but very good.
now lets look at the flaws of this film. the first thing is the story and more importantly the continuity. there is far too much of it, about a minute in, were already hearing about the Daleks, Skaro, the Time Lords, Gallifrey and also the Tardis. this will be fine for fans of the series, but this film was also an attempt to introduce the show to a more mainstream American audience, who would not understand any of these concepts, and as a result, it would lead to a large amount of confusion. there are also a lot of unnecessary concepts that have been added to the film, such as the idea of the Doctor being half human, which doesn't work for the character at all and is an example of the Americans trying to be a little bit too clever. the story itself is actually pretty mediocre and there isn't anything scene stealing from any of the actors. if you compare this story to any of the doctors previous adventures, there is an awful lot to be desired. another problem is the regeneration from the seventh doctor, into the eighth. in the past, the doctor has died and been resurrected in another form, in a more heroic fashion. the doctor getting shot by a triad is a real let down and Sylvester McCoy did deserve to go out more heroically. the inclusion of the regeneration scene is another example of poor continuity. another problem I have is Eric Roberts as the Master. in the original series, the Master is portrayed as being a sort of evil magician and hypnotist. in this, Roberts plays him more like an over the top action villain, and on top of that, his appearance makes him look like a rip of the terminator. this idea and the appearance is simply all wrong for the character and Roberts is clearly miscast.
Doctor Who the Movie might have failed to revive the series, but it is still an enjoyable, if not flawed return of a truly iconic series. it represents what an American version would have been like and it serves as a good continuation of where the series left of. I am glad it wasn't picked up for a series because if it was, we probably wouldn't have the 2005 revived series that is still continuing to this day. anyone that is a fan of Doctor Who, should definitely see this film, it might not be what you would expect from Doctor Who, but it is still decent nonetheless.
The Inbetweeners (2012)
another flawed remake of a miles better UK series
when the US version of the Inbetweeners was first announced with a trailer and an image of the cast, it was scorned by the fans of the British version. with the shows creator Iain Morris as well as Blake Harrison who played Neil in the UK series, defending it and urging fans to not pre- judge it, we were left to wonder if it would come close to the hilarity of the UK version. however despite the defence from the shows creators, i cannot say that this is a good adaption, in fact in my opinion, this is one of the worst US remakes in recent years.
Despite this criticism, the show does have some quality to it. while the first three or four episodes are basically americanised renditions from the first series of the UK version, the writers do add there own ideas and story lines which come to prominence later in the series. some of these ideas and plots are generally quite funny and entertaining.
However, what makes this show a bad remake, is that no matter how funny these ideas are, the series seems to suffer an identity crisis and most of the time doesn't actually become recognisable as the Inbetweeners. while these are pretty much the same characters that you will know and love from the UK version, most of the actors are miscast and the fact the way they portray the characters and how they are written, makes them generally dis-likable for the most part.
an example of the miscasting is Joey Pollari as Will. while i have no doubts over Pollari's acting abilities, casting him in the role of Will was a huge mistake. this mainly due to Pollari's physical appearance as being like six foot four, and handsome. this might not seem like a big issue, however during one episode, Will keeps insisting that he is ugly and unattractive, with everyone seeming to agree with him. in addition, due to him being more of a "smart-ass" rather than snobbish like in the British version, this makes him seem rather dull than funny. the producers should have in my opinion cast someone like Christopher Mintz- Plasse
an example of the dis-likability of the characters is Zack Pearlman's portrayal of Jay. in the original show when Jay used to tell people of his made up sexual misadventures, we were able to laugh at his arrogance and his story. however in this version, Jay is just too loud and obnoxious. what also drags the character down is the scenarios that the writer's have placed him in. in one episode, Jay has to take on a family tradition of becoming the Class Clown. this idea is just all wrong for the character and adds to the fact that the show suffers an identity crisis.
if it weren't for the miscast and dis-likable characters, a lot of the shows content has been dumbed down due to the sensitivity of the American audience. this is one of the shows largest missteps because what made the original show so memorable was its vulgarity and tongue and cheek humour. along with this and the bright colours and clichéd feel to the show, it makes the US Inbetweeners feel like a grungy Disney Channel show.
The Inbetweeners could have done very well in America and it had a few advantages such as the universal idea of the show and the fact that the UK version had been a kind of "play on" of American teen comedies such as "American Pie". however the show is ruined by miscast and dis-likable characters, the dumbing down for American audiences and the fact that the show suffers from an identity crisis.
Abre los ojos (1997)
the original and best
many people that have seen Vanilla Sky, may be unaware that its a remake of this movie. now i had seen vanilla sky first and only watched this version out of complete curiosity. i have to say this film is far superior to vanilla sky in every way. yeah sure its subtitled, but so what, once you get past that fact, the result is a generally well made movie with an intriguing story, great acting and an atmospheric and tense soundtrack.
one of the things i like about the movie is that unlike David in Vanilla Sky, Cesar, the main character in this seems much more like a normal person. i'm not saying that Tom Cruise's depiction isn't normal, but the way he seemed to always smile in every scene and also the fact that he seemed quite arrogant sort of made him kind of dislikeable. Cesar on the other hand seems more intelligent and more believable. we know both character's are very wealthy however in "open your eyes", his background is mentioned only once at the start of the movie. the character of Pelayo, Cesar's best friend, is also much more believable than his American counter part, Brian Shelby. Shelby just seems to be unable to take serious offence and doesn't seem upset that much when David tries to chat up Sofia. in the original, when Cesar begins chatting up Sofia (played also in this version by Penelope Cruz), Pelayo seems generally hurt and the audience does take sympathy for him. Nuria, Cesar's mentally ill ex girlfriend is also much more disturbing in this film.
Another great thing about this film is the soundtrack. the soundtrack really does a great job of making the film seem more tense and atmospheric and kind of gives it a very dark and almost horror themed visual.
anyone that is a fan of Vanilla Sky should definitely see Open Your Eyes. the effective performances and overall atmosphere of the film really makes this an unforgettable experience and a much better movie than Vanilla Sky
Life on Mars (2008)
An enjoyable, but flawed remake
If you think of a very successful British show like Life on Mars, it was only a matter of time before some network in America adapts it for American audience. My initial impressions before seeing this show was it was going to be no where near a good as the original British version. While I have to say that this show is not as good as the UK version,it is however a very enjoyable and entertaining show.
The show does do a very good job at recreating 1970s New York with many cultural references which occurred around the time, such as the anti war protests and the Irish gangs. In addition, the acting from everyone is very good, especially from Jason O' Mara and Michael Imperiolli (who plays a drastically depiction of Ray Carling, as opposed to Dean Andrews portrayal in the original series). The story lines are also inventive in how the writers have taking story lines and plot elements from the UK version and added their own twists and ideas to the series, which helps give the show its own identity.
Despite this, the show does have some flaws. Like I have previously mentioned, the show is not as good as the original. Another one of these flaws is Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt. While Keitel is a good actor and his acting credit is seen here, I felt he was miscast as Gene. While he does display the same brutish attitude, he is unable to deliver the same tongue and cheek humour that the original character (played by Phil Glenister)had. Furthermore, the ending to the series is very poor and one of the main reasons why this remake is inferior to the original.
Overall, Life on Mars USA is an enjoyable, if not flawed remake. If you look at it as a show on its own, it is pretty descent, however if you compare it to the original UK version, it is simply not as good. Anyone that is a fan of the original series should definitely give this a look, and even if you haven't seen the original, its still worth watching
Pretty damn good for an American remake
the original British version is one of my favourite shows on TV and when i first heard that they were remaking it in the states, i like many others had serious doubts of it translating well, especially if you think of how glamorous American TV is and how unglamourous a show like shameless is. However i can safely say that John Wells and Showtime really have nailed it in adapting the show for the US audience. this can be said with how successful the show has been in America, which is great because it sort of mimics the same success the UK version had when it debuted in 2004. Despite there being some flaws, Showtime have overall done a terrific job in adapting shameless.
while the story lines for the first season are pretty much americanised versions of the first series of the British version, there are several episodes that have there own story lines and the whole of season 2 completely deviates from the British story lines, in fact while watching season 2, the show felt more of a completely different show rather than a remake. the acting from everyone is very good, especially from Emmy Rossum, Joan cusack and William Macy. the story lines that the US writing team come up with are generally very inventive and have that same tongue and cheek humour that the British series has. the chemistry between Lip and Ian as well as Fiona and Steve is one of the strongest aspects of the show. the music is also great and fits into the show well.
Now i am going to talk about the flaws of the show. even though i am from the UK and am not entirely familiar with American culture and how people live, there doesn't seem to be that much poverty to the show. the show just seems to be too glamorous and clean as opposed to the grittiness of the original UK version. another problem i have is William Macy as Frank. to me, David Threlfall IS Frank and while Macy isn't bad in the role, he just doesn't have that same quality that Threlfall delivers in the UK version. many fans of the UK version may also find the deviations in this version to be quite off-putting.
Overall, do i prefer this version to the original? the answer is No, i don't. while the acting, the story lines, the music and the overall feel to the show is great, this version just doesn't have the same spark as the original one has and i can also relate to the UK one more. if you are a fan of the UK version, you may find this remake hard to enjoy, however if you are able to ignore the fact that it is based on a British show and treat it as an entirely different show altogether, Shameless USA can be a very fun and entertaining show. if your American and haven't seen either version, then you probably will enjoy the US version more than the UK version.