It was recently announced that the cable hit Grandpas Over Flowers is to be the latest among a string of South Korean shows to be adapted for an American audience. The list of shows to be remade seems to be growing each month!
Even more surprising is that the shows set to be remade are not just variety and entertainment shows but actual dramas as well. It is easy to understand why TV executives in the US are interested in reality shows, but less intuitive as to why they are interested in dramas. After all, the format, plots, and characters are all vastly different from shows in the US.
Will broadcast companies in the US try to extend the format to make the dramas seasons long? Will the characters deviate from their initial characterizations? Will the plot be distorted for the sake of an American audience? And — the most important question — will the remake lose the original charm and uniqueness that made the drama a hit in the first place?
It is hard to speculate the answers to these questions as there are so many variables that can affect the final outcome. Of course, that is assuming the dramas even make it to airing since, at this point, most of the dramas have been optioned to companies in the US and only a few are scheduled to produce a pilot.
The dramas currently up for remake are:
Nine: Nine Times Travel (tvN) — Fake Empire Entertainment for ABC
Vampire Prosecutor (OCN) — Intrigue Entertainment
3rd Hospital (tvN) — Intrigue Entertainment
Good Doctor (KBS) — 3AD and EnterMedia Contents for CBS
Answer Me 1997 (tvN) — FX Productions for Fox*
You Who Came From the Stars (SBS) — EnterMedia Contents and Sony Pictures for ABC**
*American name will be Answer Me 1999
**American name will be My Love
While some of these dramas could definitely appeal to a western audience — Nine Times Travel, Good Doctor, Answer Me 1997 — others like You Who Came From The Stars will have a harder time. If any of these remakes do air it will be interesting to see how they compare to their original source material.
Of course, dramas are not the only shows being remade — reality shows have also been picked up by some pretty big names. The rights to the cable hit Grandpas Over Flowers has been bought by NBC which hopes to remake the show as Better Late than Never. The show will feature four actors traveling around Asia although no further details have been released.
The choice to adapt Grandpas Over Flowers is interesting since at first glance it doesn’t seem to have the same kind of appeal as more action based shows such as Running Man. That said, with the right cast, Better Late than Never has the potential to be a great comedic reality show.
A more logical remake is NBC Universal’s decision to buy the rights to jTBC’s Hidden Singer. The US loves its singing reality shows and the acquisition by NBC is a great thing for fans for the original show as NBC has proven that they can make a singing show a hit. After all, The Voice was actually adapted from a Dutch reality show.
Hidden Singer will introduce a new gimmick to the world of reality singing shows and, out of all the shows listed above, has the best chance of succeeding in the US because of that.
It’s not hard to see why US networks such as NBC and ABC are looking to other countries for inspiration. The popularity of online viewing and binge watching has lead companies to look for new ways to reel viewers back in. By importing shows from another country, US broadcast companies gain a set (and proven) format, and all they have to do is tweak it to fit American audiences.
However, some dramas and shows are more easily adapted than others and fans will have to cross their fingers in hopes that their beloved dramas are not transformed into an unrecognizable mess. Although, to be fair, that is part of the process of remakes — especially as American production companies learn what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, they will be able to find the right balance between appealing to a western audience and preserving what made these dramas and shows special in the first place.
Excited for any of these remakes? Which will succeed and which will fail?