Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Menage et Trois

A clutch of reviews!

Skins USA
S01E01

First off, this is a slightly fraudulent review. Unlike the following two reviews, this is not complete. The first copy I downloaded was corrupted in some way and by the time I got to the 15 minute mark it was virtually impossible to watch. However, saying that, there is little to differentiate this and its UK counterpart (a description you will grow tired of by the time we get to the end of this blog entry). There is very little about the opening moments of this US version that is different from the one in the UK. Tony's quilt cover has spiders on it rather than a headless naked woman, Eura (was Effy) returns home from a debauched night out in the middle of winter rather than the height of summer and needs to sneak back in without the parents knowing. Eura like a number of the other characters have had their names changed. Their father, played so brilliantly by Harry Enfield in the UK version, is more of a twat in this and essentially it is just a re-shoot of the original in a different setting.

MTV claims that after using the UK version as a template, this series will deviate into its own path and destiny. On 15 minutes evidence, it needs to. It should be noted that the woman who lives across the road from Tony has a far better pair of tits than the one in the UK version. The biggest disappointment is Stanley (Sid), but I'm sort of judging the book by its cover and the prologue. More when I've seen a few episodes.

Being Human USA
S01E01

There is little to differentiate this and its UK counterpart... I had serious hopes about this; figuring that the total Britishness of the UK version would, maybe could, not translate well, therefore giving the writers the need to develop a different strategy; forcing them to think out of the box. I had visions of penthouse flats, doctor or lawyer vampire, a chef werewolf and a ghost that didn't whine. What we get is not just a complete rehash of the first UK episode, but a mishmash rehash of the first series, with aspects of all 6 original episodes thrust into the pilot, in a setting that's eerily exact. I am of the opinion that SyFy could take a silk purse and turn it into a sow's arse; forget the ears, they'd go straight for the shitty end.

I seem to be continually disappointed by SyFy's current output and this Canadian tripe is just another in a long line of Canadian tripe. The acting is poor; what special FX we saw were poorer, the script is woeful and even actors we've grown to recognise from other series fail to make this anything more than cringeworthy. It is an abomination and fails in every aspect where the original wins. I hope Toby Whithouse got loads of money and left the American continent as fast as he could.

The names have changed but the plot remains roughly the same. Now John Mitchell is a character called Aiden (remember that John is played by Aiden Turner in the UK); George has become Josh and Annie has become Sally. Aiden and Josh work at the local hospital where Aiden is a nurse and Josh is a porter. Sally is dead and her ex-boyfriend rents their former home to the undead twins. Josh is considerably more whiny and annoying than George could ever be and Aiden isn't anywhere near as cool or likeable and torn as John. Sally is a fucking nightmare, although the special effects for her are better than what BBC3 could afford. Like I said, much of the first UK season is shoehorned into the opening 45 minutes and done considerably badly.

I wouldn't waste your time; but I'm sure a lot of my anally retentive nerd friends will insist they watch it and probably will try to find the good points. What's worse is they won't do what I'm going to do and stop watching it.

Shameless USA
S01E01

There is little to differentiate this and its UK counterpart. Now, having given up on the UK series around series 6, I wasn't really looking forward to this, especially as I knew that it was an almost carbon copy of Paul Abbott's UK version. However, it transposes extremely well and even feels a touch edgier. This is the USA after all and there is the feeling that it is a great deal more threatening. The US version uncannily close to the UK original, they have even used 95% of the dialogue and sets, there is one exception though - Frank Gallagher's 2nd ex-wife Sheila and her daughter are introduced in this, therefore much earlier than they were in the UK - about 3 seasons earlier.

William H Macy is excellent as Frank, but it's Emmy Rossum as Fiona (Ann-Marie Duff's character) who steals the acting plaudits and has a quite remarkable pair of tits - you have to see them to believe them. The rest of the characters all have peripheral roles to play, as they did in the first two series of the UK version and we'll no doubt get to know them better as this version continues. The US writers claim they are only using the UK version as a starting point and intend to drift away from Abbott's premise as the series progresses; this is where it might work. The other thing is that while it stays faithful with script and scenarios, it isn't actually as rude as the UK version. It feels slightly sexually inhibited and this might be because it is dealing with a family environment where the majority of the characters are all under the age of 21.

It did make me laugh out loud a number of times, but that might be because it reminded me of a time when Shameless was about the Gallagher family and not people from a Manchester housing estate who had been forced into the series because all of the actors playing Gallaghers decided to leave. An extremely entertaining remake; not keen on the US versions of Kev and Veronica, but Maxine Peake and Dean Lennox Kelly take a lot of beating.

The most enjoyable of the three US remakes.

***

Not brilliant reviews, but I knew what I was going on about. I also watched Off The Map which was a mixture of entertaining and a wee bit mawkish. I might give it a couple more episodes to see if it gets any better. The weird thing about it is that its using the old Lost sets, which is weird.

I also watched that programme about teen sex this evening on C4... Oh. My. Word. I never knew they were allowed to be that, um... explicit nowadays. Vajazzling and all manner of other things on display - literally. Good lord.

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