It is not uncommon for British shows to be remade in America and vice versa. For every Brit TV show remake failure like Coupling or Free Agents we also get unforgettable ones like The Office and Sanford and Son (raise of hands if you knew it was a remake).
The problem with remakes are, most are not well executed. Sometimes the show doesn’t translate well to the American palate or the actors can’t recapture the chemistry found in the original.
In the fall of 2013, BBC announced it was airing a series called Broadchurch. The show centers around a quiet, close knit coastal village turned upside down after a local boy is found murdered. Broadchurch was cast perfectly, with David Tennant and Olivia Colman as unwilling police partners in the well written whodunit. It also gave us standout performances from Jodie Whittaker as the grieving mother, David Bradley as the crusty local man and Arthur Darvill as the town reverend.
Tennant and Darvill are known best by american audiences for their connection to the British TV show Doctor Who. The show was so well received by viewers, the production company decided to “greenlight” a second season. Shortly after the last episode aired on BBC America the Fox Broadcasting Network announced they would produce a remake of Broadchurch. Fox surprised everyone with the announcement of David Tennant reprising his role for the American version called Gracepoint.
With Fox supporting Tennant, he could replicate the success Brit actor Hugh Laurie experienced with the Fox TV show House. The network is bringing in award winning actors Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Nick Nolte (Warrior) and Michael Pena (Crash). There is no denying Fox is fully invested in making Gracepoint a success.
Recently during the semi annual Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour for Gracepoint members of the producing team were on-hand to answer questions. Producers were confident that Americans had not seen Broadchurch and given the chance Gracepoint can stand alone.
Executive Producer Carolyn Bernstein said “We think those people who do overlap will be really into it and really enjoy the show.” She also confirmed the first few episodes would be an exact replica from the UK version but states “as the series progresses, it really diverges in pretty big large ways from the original.” Gracepoint Executive Producer, Dan Futterman, complained his mother watched Broadchurch and could not decipher what the actors were saying. He also went on to say he thought it was a “common experience.”
Carolyn Bernstein is right about not many Americans having not watched Broadchurch, but I take great exception to the comments from EP Dan Futterman. If his mother was having such a hard time understanding what the actors were saying he should have introduced her to the close caption feature on her TV. It’s not like the Broadchurch actors were speaking English or anything.
The fact he thinks this is a common problem Americans have with British TV shows is appalling. If that were true then shows like Doctor Who or Downton Abby should not be as popular in America. I don’t think he gives Americans the benefit of the doubt, that we are much more cultured than in previous generations.
Great writing is great writing in any language. What is not clear is how much of the great writing from the original show has been oversimplified for American audiences. While I am pessimistic in Gracepoint’s success, I will still watch the show. It’s more out of curiosity of Tennant’s American accent than the actual show.
I hope I am wrong about Gracepoint for David Tennant’s benefit. I think American audiences would fall in love with Tennant…for some of us it would be a second time. If you don’t want to wait for Gracepoint to air on Fox you can watch Broadchurch. You can thank me later.
Are you going to watch Gracepoint? Let me know in the comments below.
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