Smart TV, Stupid TV, social propaganda and accents

I am going to ramble for a moment.

I have been working my way through episodes of The Eleventh Hour (there are only four) with Patrick Stewart.  Once again we see a BBC show which has a strong social agenda.

You can tell from the first episode what sort of thought is behind the series from their reduction of the human fetus (which figures in an episode about cloning) to "medical waste" and the paean sung to stem cell research.  Right now I have on a self-righteous episode about global warming.  There is, however, a very cool scene about a decoding quiz planted in an e-mail from a dead man… but I digress.

I have seen not a few British TV series on DVD.  Everyone should see Yes, Minister and its sequel.  I have especially liked detective shows.

Americans should know that, even if BBC series have far higher production values and are smarter, their propagandizing content is far more aggressive than American shows, which are for the most part stupider, but less blatant…. if you can imagine that. 

But the point… as I listened to some of the actors, their accent sounded more and more familiar, though not Patrick Stewart or the woman sidekick (a Scot… Scotess?  Scotette?)

It struck me that it was the same as I had heard during Life on Mars, which was set in Manchester.

A quick search revealed that The Eleventh Hour is also in Manchester.

Any Manchester United fans out that?

Also, I think there are several series which started in the UK and have been converted for American TV.  Didn’t The Office start in the UK?  I have only see a couple episodes of the UK version.  I think Life on Mars was converted as well.

Have any shows gone the other direction across the pond?

Okay… enough rambling.

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14 Responses to Smart TV, Stupid TV, social propaganda and accents

  1. Charivari Rob says:

    There have been a few American versions of UK shows.

    Besides The Office?

    Ummm…

    All In The Family – wasn’t that an adaptation of something called ‘Til Death Do Us Part?

    Wasn’t there a UK inspiration for Three’s Company or Robin’s Nest?

    I’m not sure if there has ever been such a direct adaptation going the other direction. Was Waiting For God inspired by some US show, or was some US show inspired by it?

    I would say the UK imported more in the line of genres, rather than particular settings. After all, what late-night talk show anywhere doesn’t owe something to Paar and Carson?

  2. Jack Hughes says:

    yes minster rocked !!!, also Thankyou America for The West Wing !!! (I learned alot about your political system from it)

  3. Christina says:

    What about those reality TV shows? I’m not sure, but didn’t shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent originate on the American side? I suppose if that’s the case, there’s not much to be proud of. Elimination reality shows are a bit of a gimmick.

  4. Jason C. says:

    Any Manchester United fans out that?

    Do you watch soccer, Father?

  5. Jason C: Do you watch soccer, Father?

    Not very often. Occasionally when the teams are of slight interest.

  6. JoanW says:

    My favorite British TV series is Foyle’s War, a murder-mystery show that takes place in Hastings in WWII. The historical detail is phenomenal and the characters are brilliant– it’s especially nice to begin at the beginning and watch the character development progress through the seasons. They replayed it over here on PBS for awhile, but they shortened the episodes.

    It’s the best.

  7. Sanford & Son is an adaptation of a BBC show about a Cockney junkman. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard some of the reruns of the radio adaptations on BBC 7.

  8. MargaretMN says:

    11th hour was terribly preachy about science but a few of the episodes kind of showed the limits of science. I can’t really take much of Patrick Stewart in high dungeon unless it’s on the bridge of the Enterprise and even then, it gets annoying.I don’t think that the US series with british actor Rufus Sewell lasted long. He follows a couple of other significant failures (British actors trying to replicate Hugh Laurie’s success in House) with Journeyman’s Kevin McKidd (also Lucius Verinus in Rome) and Damien Lewis in Life.

    Avoid the awful time traveling dinosaurs show called Primeval. So many plot holes you could call it incoherent.

    Sandford & Son was adapted from Steptoe & Son that was on radio and TV in Britain

    UK office inspired the US office but apart from superficial similarities they were nothing alike. UK office is a lot darker. Life on Mars was converted and it ended up being quite different in the US as well.

    Manchester is the setting for quite a few dramas. The final seasons of Prime Suspect were filmed there as well. Wales seems to be a new popular destination as the New Doctor Who and Torchwood series’ were/are filmed there.

  9. truthfinder says:

    There was a version of “Eleventh Hour” in Canada (but I think it was from an American station.) Rufus Sewell played a Dr. Jacob Hood. I remember a cloning/baby episode. I think it didn’t offend me too badly (ie There was an agenda, but probably less than in the U.K. version.) The series ran two seasons in Canada. I think what I like about British shows is that they seem less likely to care who they offend, therefore I have more fun yelling at the t.v.

  10. robtbrown says:

    Not much of a viewer of weekly TV shows, but I love the British mysteries.

  11. PatrickV says:

    I have noticed that over the last 20 years most of the British offerings we get here have been slanted to the politically correct. Dr. Who has gotten a bit dodgy, and one of its spinoffs, the execrable “Torchwood” is unspeakably vile and morally bankrupt.

    Primeval is not too bad, but it has a bit of Algorian preachiness to it.

    Of all of the current British offerings the interesting that I have seen, and the least preachy, is “Being Human”.

    As for the football, give me Liverpool.

  12. Seraphic Spouse says:

    The traditional name for a woman born in Scotland is “a Scotswoman.” Rather like
    Frenchwoman or Englishwoman. The more contemporary designation is “a Scot.”

    Meanwhile, there is a detective program in Scotland called “Taggart”. It is set in Glasgow and is politically correct in a nauseating way. One show was all in favour of
    assisted suicide (i.e. murder) of the elderly. The next show featured a rural
    Christian preacher who savagely murdered a drug dealer and made it look like a human sacrifice done by neo-druids. The next show featured a Catholic priest, so I decided not to watch.

    “Rebus” also seems politically correct at the expense of conservatives. And as much as I love “Foyle’s War,” it also features class warfare. If there’s a character with an upper crust, not just middle-class, accent, he’s gonna be a baddie. This seems to be a
    feature of “Midsomer Murders”, too. (I suppose, though, that’s only fair after decades of delightful Agatha Christie/Dorothy L.Sayers toffs.) And, then, of course, there’s the BBC
    News.

    As for the football, give me Bayern.

  13. MargaretMN says:

    Dr. Who was always kind of preachy. In the 70s, there was a ton of blather about “ecology” and how bad humans were for wrecking the planet. In the 80s, it was anti-war which was kind of funny actually because the show had a lot of violence for what was originally a kid’s show. Torchwood’s world is darker. A place where God is dead, Christians commit suicide because all their beliefs have been invalidated by the discovery of aliens, who are all either vicious or disgusting or both. And the main character is a kind of bi-sexual superhero played by a gay american actor who did a documentary for the BBC about the science of homosexuality. I recently watched season 2 on dvd and it gets into government corruption, which isn’t quite as hard to take but it’s still dark, dark stuff. Definitely only suitable for mature audiences as they say.

  14. mpm says:

    Well, like other non-Brits here I have enjoyed quite a few of the British TV dramas, going back to “Brideshead Revisited”. Since they air here on PBS (and remain one of the very few things on PBS which I find palatable) they usually have no “breaks”, much less commercials. I think that is, for us, a very attractive fact, since the dramas can be dramas, and the writers are not constrained to write “with the commercials in mind”. Even when you watch a DVD for a series like “House” for example (which I mostly like), you can tell when the original makes way for a “commercial break”.

    I understand such true dramatic writing is available on HBO, Showtime, etc., but I won’t pay for them.

    As to specifics, I really like “Foyle’s War”, which does an excellent job at bringing out the humanity of the various characters. I also like the “Inspector Lewis” and “Inspector Morse” series.

    One note which the Brits may appreciate. I never cease to wonder how such a small geographical place can be home to so many variants of a common tongue! At times, I cannot even tell what the actors have said!