Cheerio! G’day, mate! Shalom! In their own way, more and more foreign programs are saying hello to American airwaves. -- J.R.
TWO CENTURIES AGO, Americans hurled tea into Boston Harbor as a way of declaring their independence from British rule. If this fall’s television lineup is any indicator, the fervor of that fiery patriotism has, apparently, cooled: More than a half dozen new network series were born in foreign lands.Here are our picks for this season’s most promising TV imports.
LIFE ON MARS
Born in: England, 2006. The BBC hit later aired on BBC America.
Premise: A cop wakes up in 1973 and must find out why while solving crimes along the way.
Coming to America: The show is set in New York and features an American rock-and-roll soundtrack. Producer David E. Kelley (Boston Legal) spearheaded the pilot, but Alias alums Josh Applebaum and André Nemec have since taken over.
Producers Say:“The key to a successful translation is neither being too literal tothe original nor veering too far away from what made it work,”Applebaum says. “We often talk about ‘maintaining the essence’ of whatmade the BBC version so spectacular.”
Biggest Difference:The two-season BBC version explained its protagonist’s dilemma as acoma-induced dream. “We are going down a very different path,” saysApplebaum. “We don’t want new fans to go to Wikipedia and see how itall ends.”
THE ELEVENTH HOUR
Born in: England, 2006. It starred Star Trek veteran Patrick Stewart.
Premise: A brilliant biophysicist investigates scientific anomalies for the U.S. government.
Coming to America: Produced by blockbuster maven Jerry Bruckheimer, this adaptation punches up the booms, the bangs, and the budget.
Producers Say:“In an odd way, I think the British version was a stab at doing American television in England,” says writer/producer Angel Dean Lopez. “Importing the format is almost reimporting it -- culturally, not a bigstretch.”
Biggest Difference:“Our version revolves around real-world scientific twists and turns, while the British version didn’t always include that much science,” Lopez says.
KATH & KIM
Born in: Australia, 2002.
Premise: This suburban sitcom focuses on a dueling mother and daughter.
Coming to America: Hoping to repeat the success of The Office, NBC has dressed this import with comedy gold: It stars Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon and John Michael Higgins, a Christopher Guest repertory player. Expect big, smart laughs.
Producers Say: “Casting is huge,” says executive producer Michelle Nader. “Huge.”
Biggest Difference:“We didn’t have a best friend for Kim in the pilot,” Nader says. “The four cast members we did have are so awesome, though, that we felt like the pilot was chock-full.”
TEN SIMPLE RULES
The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco gives us her guidelines for life. By Allison Winn Scotch
KALEY CUOCO may play an intellectually challenged blonde bombshell on the hit CBS series The Big Bang Theory, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t put her gray matter to work in reallife. In fact, the 23-year-old California native graduated from highschool at the age of 16 (impressed?) and then rode the fast track to fame, thanks to her breakout role of Bridget on 8 Simple Rules, which costarred the late John Ritter, and to guest star appearances on shows such as Prison Break. When she’s not on the set, the animal lover can likely be found horseback riding or hanging out with her dogs. “I like animals more than people,” she admits.
Since she’s the star of a show withsuch an earth-shattering title, we wondered if Cuoco, the smarty that she is, had any theories of her own. Here, she shares 10.
1. I believe that cuddling with my dog is the best remedy to a bad day.
2. I believe that girlfriends trump boyfriends any day of the week, but that each has its own purpose.
3. I believe in never throwing any article of clothing away, because you never know when it’s going to come back in style.
4. I believe that life is short. Dessert, preferably anything with chocolate, comes first.
5. I believe in never having a scale in my house.
6. I believe you should always canter, even when you feel like trotting,and that nothing beats the pure adrenaline rush of a straight-upfull-speed gallop.
7. I believe that animals really can be your best friends: They always listen, and they don’t talk back.
8. I believe in leaving your phone in the car when you are out to dinner.
9. I believe in always wearing sunscreen.
10. I believe in always getting a flower design on your toe with your pedicure, because a little sparkle never hurt anyone.