31 January 2010 | steven-elia
Excellent on Both Sides of the Pond
Having never heard of this show prior to its debut on ABC, I absolutely loved the American version. After a few episodes, the characters really developed, and the actors seemed to gel more than in the start. A lot of humor involved Michael Imperioli and Keitel condescending women's rights and confused by 'Spaceman's' current attitudes that we take as common sense.
The British version is obviously amazing, but it's two separate countries, so the issues and slang used (along with the scenery), are very different. To be honest, I didn't understand a lot of the references in the British version. I wasn't even alive in the 70s. I am almost positive a lot went over my head in the American version as well. The basic premise, the hallucinations, and character names are really the few things both have in common. The idea of a re-make is to improve something that was done poorly yet remained popular (usually a cult classic) or alter a successful idea to reach new audiences, not produce a carbon copy. Ricky Gervais understood that concept when bringing us the Office. Even today, his characters evolve yet maintain his original, core personalities, yet that may be due to his current involvement as producer and writer.
From reading the other reviews, I believe it was impossible for fans of the original to view the American version as something attuned to our history. The anger seemed more directed at Americans for even attempting this version, not its content, the sharp, sarcastic dialog (after the growing pains), or the humor in the ideals held a mere thirty years ago. Be that as it may, the outcry was heard and new fans of the series were stripped of a potential classic before it had a chance to develop into its beautiful and savvy predecessor. Sometimes the translation is lost on its way overseas (like Coupling), but I do not think that was the case here. Every week I was eager for a new episode. Every week I laughed and got more involved with the growing complexities within each character. Due to this, the final episode will infuriate just about everyone. It was an idea meant to be led to slowly and with a lot of misdirection, yet the cancellation sped us to the "wow" moment too quickly. It became a moment of confusion, instead of revelation.
I would advise purchasing either version and cranking the volume. Otherwise, you're not going to hear the music over your own laughing and voiced epiphanies. Both soundtracks are stellar, and half the fun is guessing at the end of the series like with Lost, and I promise, you will fail as soon as you start trying.
Both versions have a place in my heart. Enjoy them!