If there’s one thing American television production companies love doing, besides the latest craze of turning every movie under the sun into a TV series, it’s taking shows that have been successful in the United Kingdom and bringing them to the United States. Finer examples include “The Office” and “Shameless” and the most recent examples are “House of Cards” and “Gracepoint,” and now we can add two more to the mix.
First up, Deadline reports that “Spin City” and “Scrubs” co-creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence is teaming up with NBC to take a second stab at remaking the popular British comedy series “The IT Crowd.” The original series stars Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, St. Vincent) and Richard Ayoade (The Watch, The Boxtrolls) as two nerds working in the IT department at a big corporation, trying to fit in, stay out of trouble, and help their clueless newly-appointed boss (Katherine Parkinson) pretend that she knows anything about technology.
NBC previously tried to remake the series for the 2006/2007 season with Joel McHale taking the role of Roy originated by Chris O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade reprising his role as Moss, along with Jessica St. Clair playing their boss Jen. That pilot is available to watch in its entirety right here:
So what happened? Well, it was picked up to series and set to begin airing in the midseason. But there was a change of the guard at NBC, and it was given the axe. In all honestly, it’s for the best, because McHale’s snarky demeanor just doesn’t work for the character of Roy. What we get is essentially his “Community” character Jeff Winger pretending to be a nerd, and he never really jives with Richard Ayaode the way that Chris O’Dowd did.
So now Bill Lawrence is going to try to get it going again with “Community” and “Scrubs” writers Neil Goldman & Garrett Donovan at Warner Bros. Television, and they already have a put pilot commitment from NBC. Here’s hoping they can make it good and that it actually makes it to air this time. If not, there’s four seasons and a special finale of the original readily available at various streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
Next up, another series from across the pond featuring the talents of Chris O’Dowd will also get the American remake treatment. “Moone Boy” is an Irish comedy produced for British television on the Sky network that not only stars O’Dowd, but he also created and wrote the series as well. And now THR reports he’ll be writing and executive producing a remake of the series for the United States on ABC.
The show follows a quirky 12-year old boy named Martin Moone as he navigates middle school, deals with his annoying sisters and comes of age. Helping him along the way is his sarcastic, imaginary friend, played by Chris O’Dowd (though unfortunately he won’t be starring in the remake this time). Here’s a trailer for the original Irish series:
The original series is still going with two seasons in the can (and a third on the way), each with only six episodes (because European television knows how to do things right), and they’re all available on Hulu and have aired on PBS. It’s a charming, genuinely funny series, but we’ll see if it translates well to American television since for me, much of the charm comes from the quaint Irish setting and characters.
Anyway, O’Dowd has a rising star in the United States, thanks to key roles in American comedies like Bridesmaids, This is 40, and even a small role in Thor: The Dark World. He also hit television in the US with the HBO series “Family Tree,” a sorely underrated program in my opinion. Maybe since O’Dowd is writing and executive producing, he can make the series just as big of a success as the original version.
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