British humour is better left at home than sent to the US

 

Oh, what’s occurring? Not much, as far as the American version of Gavin and Stacey is concerned. The remake for Fox, titled Us & Them, has been dropped and the completed episodes – starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Blede and a supporting cast of Michael Ian Black, Kurt Fuller and Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek – will never air.

To say that the British rom-sitcom has had a tortured time Stateside is an understatement. Mooted remakes by NBC and ABC never got off the ground. The Fox version looked hopeful until last October when the network halted production six episodes into a 13-episode series, released the actors from their contracts and went very quiet. This week the axe fell for good.

Why? A look at the extended trailer online tells a familiar story. Gavin, a slick New Yorker falls for Stacey, a pretty Pennsylvanian hick online. After six months of cyber-flirting they have their first, drunken date, accompanied by their chubby, heavily tattooed best pals and mithered over by their dysfunctional parents. Swap Brooklyn for Billericay and it’s exactly the same as the BBC original.

James Corden and Ruth Jones famously came up with the idea when Corden went to a wedding and realised he had never seen a straightforward big day on television. One “where, essentially, nothing really happens”, he said. Can you make a hit out of a show where nothing happens, twice over? Perhaps not. In any case, Corden and Jones were not involved in the American remake, except as executive producers, which would have paid off handsomely had it been a hit.

It is tempting to put the failure of Us and Them down to cultural differences – Americans do not get the nuances of class, the American dating scene and weddings aren’t the same. Besides, the shores of America are littered with the shipwrecks of once illustrious, remade British sitcoms – Ab Fab, The Inbetweeners, Coupling, The IT Crowd. No wonder Episodes, a sitcom about the perils of remaking a hit British sitcom in Hollywood, is now heading for a fourth series.

I’m inclined to think that it’s less a matter of clashing senses of humour than timing. There are more and more successful translations now. The American Office has outlived its original by almost 200 episodes. Veep, The Thick of It’s Washington cousin, has been renewed for a fourth series. And last year, Getting On, a sitcom by Jo Brand set on an NHS geriatric ward – could it be any more British? – was remade by HBO, got great reviews and now a second series. When it first came out Gavin and Stacey filled a gaping hole in the schedules for a big-hearted, deceptively simple family sitcom. Times must have changed, but happily repeats of the original will always be to hand.

Dumb and Dumber To

Older but no wiser, thankfully. This week The Farrelly Brothers released the trailer to Dumb and Dumber To. The sequel in which Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise the dimwits they first played 20 years ago will be released in December. I can already tell you that it will be funny – if you like daft gags about catheters, mobile phones and randy old ladies (and who doesn’t?).

I can tell you this because the two-and-a-half minute trailer packs in 20 or so gags which will almost certainly be the funniest in the film. The comedy spoiler-trailer is getting worse. Bad Neighbours and 22 Jump Street both put their best joke in the trailer lately. Is it possible to give a flavour of a comedy without giving away the punchlines? Producers need to find a way because it doesn’t half leave viewers feeling short-changed when they finally sit through 100 minutes and realise they’ve already seen the funniest three on YouTube.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=kp&v=lGXHVlEklgQ

What I Watched…

Rik Mayall

Too much to choose from but Richie’s panicky greeting of the gas man in Bottom perfectly captures Mayall’s maniac zeal. He could make you cry with laughter with a single phrase. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5p-YQkbe_s&list=PLD12F7479254BDD2A

Blocked

I thought this Radio 4 sitcom about a family-run regional theatre had an unusually pleasing dark side and then I found out it was written by Frankie Boyle. David Mitchell is perfectly cast as the Fawlty-esque anti-hero.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045c1ws

Fathers and Sons

It’s far from a farce but a classy adaptation of Turgenev’s elegiac novel at the Donmar Warehouse had some sublime comedy moments, thanks to Tim McMullan and Susan Engel.

To 26 July (www.donmarwarehouse.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried