Importing British television programs and repurposing them for American audiences has been a bit of a trend in idea-deficient Hollywood for some time now. Reality shows, comedies, and even musical dramas have all crossed the pond with various degrees of success.
For example, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was an instant success in the US, The Office is a fan favorite but isn't breaking ratings records, and Viva Laughlin, well, you know what happened there.
The list goes on and on, and it will only continue to grow. The latest to be added is the Channel 4 series Spaced. This may not mean much to the typical American television addict, but Spaced was the launching pad for Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, and Edgar Wright, better known as the team behind the films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Fox has ordered a remade-for-American-audiences pilot of the show, reports Variety, with producer Adam Barr (Will & Grace, The New Adventures of Old Christine) helming the show and McG's (Chuck, the movie Charlie's Angels) Wonderland production company behind it. The comedy, which aired for two seven-episode seasons in 1999 and 2001, follows a man and a woman who feign a relationship to get cheaper rent on an apartment and their wacky adventures with their misfit circle of friends. The British version got laughs with its use of pop-culture references, often appealing to the geek crowd by mentioning sci-fi movies, video games, and comic books.
Variety states that Wright and Pegg's involvement in the project is "still unclear." What do you think: Will slow-mo gunfights and the like work in the US?
[UPDATE] Edgar Wright has posted his feelings about the deal on his MySpace blog, and they're none too kind. In addition to calling the announcement "troubling news," Wright says that neither he nor Pegg were ever contacted regarding the deal.
Wright says: "I don't really want to get involved at all, but it infuriates me that they would a) never bother to get in touch but still b) splash me and Simon's names all over the trade announcements and infer that we're involved in the same way Ricky [Gervais] & Steve [Merchant] were with [the Americanized version of] The Office. Also, it's worth stressing that I will not be profiting from this reversion, nor do they have to get permission from me to make it."
But how does he really feel? "I'm calling for everyone to refer to the U.S. version of Spaced as McSpaced from now on. I can't think of a better distillation of the whole idea."
And Spaced fans wholeheartedly agree.