That’s a Bust!
In the modern society, where everything is public, there is a camera at every corner. For producers, this means that when a show fails, it doesn’t matter, there is always a camera there, and it will eventually be seen. With this in mind, it is no miracle that YouTube has become the new home of bombed pilots. Among the misfits and old broken videos, is the critically condemned American remake, The IT Crowd.
When NBC decided to remake Graham Linehan’s sitcom, The IT Crowd (U.S), many were anticipating how the remake would be received. Much like Coupling (which bombed) and The Office (which, after a rough start, is highly popular), The IT Crowd remake was copied shot-for-shot and joke-for-joke from the British pilot.
As Turnball suggests, “Sizeable and often crucial amounts of comedic meaning resides in infliction, timing, nuance, gesture, the balance of sound and silence, the unexpected or wilful pronunciation of key words…” (Turnbull 2008, p. 112)
Like many of the U.K-U.S adaptations, the American IT Crowd pilot script makes for an odd viewing experience. For me personally, it brings back nightmares of watching the first episodes of the American remake, The Office. The rhythm and atmosphere match up so closely that I cringe watching it, it feels fake, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure if the American actors get the jokes they are relaying to their audience.
Even worse, the characters have exactly the same name, and the producer’s decision to bring over Richard Ayoade (who played Moss in the British version) as the eccentric, Moss, makes the pilot feel even more off.
According to Linehan, “The IT Crowd is a very British show in the sense that it comes from a tradition of surreal sitcom that doesn’t really have an equivalent in America” (similar to shows like Black Books). Perhaps if the U.S network has reinvented The IT Crowd (U.S) from the ground up, merely taking the concept and reinventing it for U.S audiences, they would have been more successful? However, the series creator Graham Linehan failed to translate the series for a U.S context. Given this lack of appeal for U.S, the pilot bombed even before it’s release.
The IT Crowd (U.S) originally had a full series ordered, and had even been advertised by NBC but it never made it to air. Audiences aren’t looking to watch a show they have already seen with difference actors playing the same characters, saying the same jokes and only changing words like ‘Manchester’ to ‘Milwaukee’.
For audiences all over the world, not just American audiences, there is simply no appeal there!
Linehan G 2007, “Notes on The U.S. IT Crowd”, <http://whythatsdelightful.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/notes-on-the-us-it-crowd/>.