Saturday, November 06, 2010
NBC chairman Ben Silverman was kind when he said the pilot for the US version of the IT Crowd "didn't quite spark.". It stunk. This despite having the show's writer/director/creator Graham Lineham executive produce, despite using the same script, the same sets, the same direction, even the same actor in one case (Moss, arguably the funniest character of the show).
Why? Casting? The Jen character was too beautiful. The Roy character too angry. The boss character not sufficiently over the top. Timing. Lots of things.
The real question is, why recast and reshoot a British sitcom in America with Americans? We speak English over here. Why not just rerun episodes over here? I have the answer. Smarties Cereal.
In one episode of the original series, Jen, the IT geek's "relationship manager" suggests that their odd behavior may be due to their sugary diet. She asks Moss, the alpha geek, what he had for breakfast that morning. Here is his response:
Moss: (matter of factly) Smarties Cereal
Jen: !?I didn't realize Smarties MADE a cereal.
Moss: They don't. It's just Smarties and milk.
Cue the yuks. Moss eats candy as breakfast. But wait. In England, Smarties is Nestle's version of M&Ms. In America, Smarties are little chalky candy tablets made by compressing candy dust. An American watching The IT Crowd would wrongly think Moss is eating the wrong kind of candy. M&Ms in milk for breakfast is childlike and funny. Candy dust buttons in milk is just weird.
I volunteer to write and dub in American variations of British comedy so uninitiated Americans can get every last yuk and guffaw out of the IT Crowd. It would kind of be like dubbing clean alternatives to the F word into The Big Lebowski when it's shown on TBS ("this is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps"). I'd try the jokes with test audiences. Milk Duds in milk? Nillla Wafers? Reese's peanut butter cups is already a cereal. Let's take it from the top:
Jen: Moss, what did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Moss: Sweet Tarts and milk
Jen: !? I didn't even know Sweet Tarts made a cereal!
Moss. They don't. It's Sweet Tarts and milk.
Posted by Ken at 6:42 AM