Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Lack Of Originality or American Vs British Television

I've been on a bit of a writing sabbatical for the past few weeks and although I've had tons of ideas to write about I just couldn't bring myself to start any of them. Perhaps sometimes a break is needed to charge the mental batteries or married life will intervene or just maybe I had a case of writers block. Who's to say? I'm not sure why this happened but thankfully it appears to be over. While on this self imposed exile from creativity I had the chance to watch some British television shows that came highly recommended by Brian Quinn from the Tell 'Em Steve Dave podcast.

First up was An Idiot Abroad which is about a man named Karl Pilkington who is sent to see the seven wonders of the world and is expected to report on them. The trouble is that Karl hasn't been to many places in his life and doesn't much care for other cultures and their habits. It didn't help that producers and friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant made sure to put him in as many unpleasant situations as they could. They made sure to book him into some of the most rundown hotels they could find, used some of the worst transportation available and ensured he would be exposed to foreign cultures no matter how much he complained, no matter how unhappy he was. The show was great fun and season two has already wrapped up shooting so soon there will be more episodes to enjoy. British television shows usually only run for six episodes a season which makes it far easier to watch the entire season than an it is for an American one.

Next up was The Inbetweeners which is about four boys in high school who aren't quite cool, good looking, athletic or even geeky enough. Instead they're inbetween, hence the title. The show follows them as they make their way through their last three years of school and showcases all of their mis-steps, accidents and just plain bad luck as they try to make it through life . I'm almost halfway through the third season and did I mention that it's brilliant? It's a very funny show that absolutely captures what it's like to be young and not in the "in" crowd no matter what age you are. Unfortunately it appears that the show is over however the good news is the The Inbetweeners movie is to be released next month although I'm not sure when or if it will make it across the pond and grace American theaters.

After I finish The Inbetweeners I'm going to start Psychoville which is a dark comedy about five very different and strange people who have a blackmailer in common. Sounds like fun. I also have a confession to make. I've never seen either the British or American version of The Office but I've got it in my sights as well as Extras. Then there is always Being Human which is about a werewolf and a vampire living together in a house occupied by a ghost. I've watched the American version of it but now I feel the need to watch the original show. I've heard that there will also be an American version of The Inbetweeners but for the life of me I can't see how they'll be able to do it justice. Instead of trying to bring about new and original shows it seems that most American companies would rather simply copy a British one or throw on a so called reality show (that ultimately is as real as what a growing number of American men presume their waistline to be).

As I watched these shows lately I crept into the shady remains of my memory and discovered that I seemingly had always enjoyed British humor and more importantly their television shows but had unfortunately drifted away (which seems to happen far too frequently in life) from them over the years. As like many a youth I adored The Benny Hill Show (bawdy humor mixed with scantily clad women go well with raging hormones) and then Monty Python's Flying Circus (although I'll admit that at first it was a bit over my head) and even Fawlty Towers. While I was in college The Young Ones became a favorite in our fraternity house as well as the superb cartoon Danger Mouse and since I own both on DVD I can only presume I'll be watching them soon, this time with my four year old. So it seems like now I am drifting back towards British television which can only brings about good things. After all, most of the shows are fresh and original and they aren't afraid to try something different, unlike here in the states which only want to replicate someone elses success. Still, lest you think I don't like any American shows there are some good ones like The Walking Dead that I look forward to watching. I know I've got unusual tastes for things that interest me but I suppose good shows are out there, if you look for them.

Published by Don Leach

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