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Top 10 Awful American Remakes of Great British Shows

WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Written by Nathan Sharp When will Americans learn to not try to copy the classics! Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks of the top ten awful American remakes of great British shows.  For this list, we’ll be looking at those God awful American remakes that many people believe have butchered popular and well-respected British shows. To be eligible, the American version needs to have at least made a pilot, aired or otherwise. As well, to truly explain our case, spoilers doth lie ahead. Special thanks to our users killer_penguin88 and Dan Paradis for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Awful American Remakes of Great British Shows


When will Americans learn to not try to copy the classics! Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks of the top ten awful American remakes of great British shows. 

For this list, we’ll be looking at those God awful American remakes that many people believe have butchered popular and well-respected British shows. To be eligible, the American version needs to have at least made a pilot, aired or otherwise. As well, to truly explain our case, spoilers doth lie ahead.
 

#10: “Life on Mars” (2008-09)

Initially, “Life on Mars” looked to be making a name for itself on American shores. It was a respectable nod to the BBC classic, remade with energy and passion, and featured great acting, production values, and music. And then that ending happened. Seriously, what on Mars was that about? Whereas the original had the amazing and bittersweet ending of Sam killing himself to return to 1973, this one featured Sam and the group as astronauts on the first manned mission to Mars, and the 1973 scenes were just a simulation. It was absolutely insulting, and tarnished the name of the fantastic original.
 

#9: “Oh, No! Not THEM!” (1990)

That atrocious title is really all you need to know about this abomination. This series was set to be a remake of “The Young Ones,” a classic '80s sitcom that was renowned for its subversive humor. Six years after its ending, Fox attempted to “Americanize” it with terrible results. Nigel Planer, one of the original actors, was set to star in the remake, but he had an awful time in America and didn’t get along well with his co-stars, which made for a troubling production. The pilot was apparently awful enough that Fox scrapped the series before it could air, leaving the unseen episode a thing of legend.
 

#8: “Cold Feet” (1999)

A comedy-drama detailing the ebbs and flows of love, “Cold Feet” was a huge success for ITV, lasting six years and garnering huge amounts of critical praise. Then there’s the American remake. A show apparently so forgettable its existence seems to have been wiped from the Internet, the U.S. version follows the same principle as the original – only in Seattle. It was apparently watchable – not that we can prove this due to a lack of media – but even so it failed spectacularly to obtain and hold viewers. Granted, it aired Fridays at 10:00pm, but one episode gave NBC its worst Friday night ratings ever, so “Cold Feet” was quickly binned after only four episodes had transmitted.
 

#7: “Viva Laughlin” (2007)

“Viva Laughlin” was an ambitious but ultimately failed remake of “Blackpool,” the popular musical comedy drama mashup about a murder in an arcade. With a strong foundational story and behind the scenes players like the original’s creator Peter Bowker, and executive producer Hugh Jackman, “Viva Laughlin” should have been decent, but it wasn’t even good enough to be bad. Upon release, the show was absolutely ridiculed, with The New York Times calling it the “worst show in the history of television.” Harsh, yet warranted. It was, therefore, cancelled after two episodes due to abysmal ratings. Also harsh, yet also warranted.
 

#6: “Payne” (1999)

Rule one of adapting British shows: do not, and we mean do not, touch “Fawlty Towers.” Unfortunately, no one was there to enforce this rule in 1999, so CBS went and touched “Fawlty Towers”, inappropriately, and made it into “Payne.” While it had the same basic premise as the John Cleese classic, it made two notable changes – those being a shift in location from Devon to California, and a notable absence of jokes. While it was endorsed by Cleese himself, he was in the minority, which meant the show was canned after eight episodes, leading one filmed episode to remain untransmitted.
 

#5: “Doctor Who” (1996)

Before the 2005 revival that brought “Doctor Who” back to the public’s consciousness and hearts, there was this made for TV movie, which was supposed to be hugely successful and launch an American version of the show. It wasn’t, and it didn’t. Broadcast on Fox, this movie served as a continuation of the story, with the seventh doctor, Sylvester McCoy, passing the baton to Paul McGann. Although it was well received in the UK, it was a ratings disappointment in America, and the hopes of a new, American version of “Doctor Who” were quickly squashed.
 

#4: “Coupling” (2003)

Coming from eventual “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” showrunner Steven Moffat, the UK version of “Coupling” was a brilliant comedy that centred around a group of mates and was respectably compared to both “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” Meant to serve as a replacement for the latter, NBC commissioned thirteen episodes of an American remake, but some awful acting and constant network interference caused this version to be embarrassingly inferior to the original, and it was instantly labelled a massive creative failure. It was quickly cancelled after four episodes went out, and the rest have presumably been taken out back and muffled with a pillow.
 

#3: “The IT Crowd” (2007)

Similar to the “The Big Bang Theory,” only arguably actually funny, “The IT Crowd” is a shining beacon in nerd culture and follows a pair of nerds in a fictional company’s IT department. Due to its success in the UK, NBC ordered an American remake, but like most of their remake attempts, it was a spectacular failure. A pilot was filmed and numerous scripts were written, with Richard Ayoade returning as Moss and Joel McHale portraying Roy. However, even NBC knew that they had a dud on their hands after watching the pilot and promptly ordered the series cancelled before it even began.
 

#2: “The Inbetweeners” (2012)

“The Inbetweeners” was an insta-classic that perfectly captured the feelings of adolescence, with eerily realistic dialogue throughout. The remake, meanwhile, was made for MTV. That tells you all you need to know. It was typical teenage fare, despite a talented writer and showrunner in Brad Copeland of “Arrested Development” fame. It was quickly panned for being cliché, nothing at all like the original, and for just generally being awful. MTV ultimately cancelled the series after twelve episodes due to its low ratings in 2012.
 

#1: “Skins” (2011)

Like “The Inbetweeners,” only much darker, more depressing, and not as funny, “Skins” was a huge success, in part due to its challenging subject matter, like mental illness in teens and drug abuse. And here comes MTV moseying its way in again! While the show wasn’t completely unwatchable, it was much tamer in comparison to its UK counterpart, and as a result was not nearly as powerful. It also quickly drew controversy due to its questionable sexual content involving underage teenage actors, leaving many advertisers to pull their support for the show - which, with the mediocre critical response, led to the series being cancelled after one season.
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