I hate to keep harping on about TV stuff, but I've been spending a lot of time with it lately. Everything else I have to talk about makes me uncomfortable, sad and irritated, so that means I probably won't talk about it much. So TV it is.
Last night was the premiere of CBS's new geek comedy Big Bang Theory, a show that I thought looked like it'd probably be pretty bad, but might potentially be similar to the truly fantastic Brit comedy The IT Crowd. It was even worse than I had imagined it might possibly be, and nothing at all like The IT Crowd. (I have no idea whether this is good news or bad news for the Amer-remakeTM of The IT Crowd that NBC is planning for an upcoming mid-season replacement. Not that I think that's even a remotely good idea in the first place. But I thought that about the Amer-remakeTM of The Office as well, and after finally caving to the universally positive reviews I've heard from people I trust I've discovered that it's actually as good/better than the original that I loved. Which means that I'm not going to condemn this new one outright. Yet.)
I don't have words to describe how truly awful this show was, so I'll talk about something else instead. The producers of this show seem to be relying upon the standard age-old technique of causing unfunny things to be funny by simply putting a laugh track overtop them, but these guys've kicked it up a notch; they're also now working under the assumption that the LOUDER the laugh track the funnier the thing will be. I have never heard laughter that loud before, which says a lot considering my penchant for Golf-Ball-in-the-Nuts conventions. (Bob Saget himself is headlining GBitN '08!! Can't wait.)
My favorite part of the episode was when D said "Man... that laugh track laughs at EVERYTHING..."
If you don't get jokes on TV but like to laugh when you hear other people laughing, then this is the show for you. However, if you DO like the jokes you laugh at to actually be JOKES, AND funny, then this is most assuredly not the show for you. Sample "joke": "Well, we sometimes play Klingon BoggleTM. That's BoggleTM -- but in Klingon."
I watched The Big Bang Theory earlier today, and my assessment was pretty much the same as yours, though I think I went in with lower expectations. TV Land has discovered that nerds like television and thus they think nerds will like television shows about nerds. But this show was more like watching a show about nerds written by the bullies and jocks who used to beat up the nerds in high school (though they did apparently grab a science dictionary along the way, and I was impressed that they talked about the particle/wave duality of light properly).
I hadn't noticed that about the laugh track, but you're right.
Love The IT Crowd. I'm worried about the Americanized version, though I guess Richard Ayoade will be reprising his role as Moss for it.
your jock theory is right on. I was talking about it today and wondered aloud whether I'm too geeky to find watching BSG season 2 WITH commentary to be funny. I'm so geeky that I subscribe to the commentary podcast and listen to it after watching each episode.
Perhaps it's only funny if you're not part of the club.
i don't know why the IT Crowd would import Moss rather than just americanize the entire thing. the original is great! i can't imagine moss working well as a character with new other characters. new american characters at that.
and speaking of watching british shows, i was watching bbc america last week. it really bothered me that they often suggest before each show that british english is hard to understand and that we should watch it with closed captioning on!!! what the hell is wrong with people that they can't understand english with a british accent? i mean, we don't suggest anyone watch movies of the deep south with closed captioning on, so we can comprehend that southern drawl. really, do you think it's because americans just don't hear enough british accent to "get" it? am i inclined to understand a british accent because my parents lived there for 6 years [before i was born!] and maybe they watched more british tv than most people? or could it be because my favorite band is british and i have listened to them talk at length? i don't know what it is, but it does upset me when i hear someone say they can't understand a british accent.
I don't think it's a matter of intelligence, just a matter of exposure. Heck, there have been times (rare, but extant) when I've switched on the subtitles on a British film or TV show because I couldn't get through the accents. The Scottish accents in Reign of Fire were so thick at times that I did that. I did the same for Gosford Park, but it didn't make the film any more enjoyable for me. ;-)
99% of the time, though, it's not an issue for me. I can imagine, though, that there might be some regions of America where the local accent is so thick that they can't understand English spoken with a British accent.
Is this why so many Brit progs are deemed in need of a remake? That our regional accents are hard to understand? It's always intrigued me this US remake business(always causes a big groan here).
The only prog I've ever had trouble following was Rab C Nesbit, a Scottish comedy of years past which featured very thick regional Scottish colloquial language but that's the only one I can come up with and I soon learnt the regionalisms.I guess we are separated by a common language.
I suspect that the remaking is more of a money thing than anything. It's probably easier to pay new actors/writers (that Americans are already familiar with) for broadcast rights than it is to work out overseas rights for the network, the writers, the actors, the music, etc.
Then we get to iTunes and DVD royalties, which seems like a significant headache. Also, Americans tend to like the 22-26 episodes per season format, while most of the good shows they're aping are only 6-12 episodes in TOTAL. (For the record, I prefer the finite short runs over the "let's take this show and make it last forever" school of thought. Like I've said previously: I was born in the wrong part of the world.)
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