What Is the Best Cult TV Show to Have Been Re-Made for Foreign Audiences?
It can be weird and unsettling when you are abroad and see your favourite show dubbed into another language. What’s even more bizarre is when you see a programme that looks like something you love but isn’t quite the same.
Many cult shows have been re-made overseas to appeal to local audiences in different parts of the world. Here are some of the most interesting versions that have popped up across the planet.
Life on Mars – Various Countries Have Adapted It and Twisted the Plot
This series was a huge hit when it started getting broadcast in 2006. John Simm played a policeman from the same year, who had been transported back to 1973 after being hit by a car. The first series averaged close to 7 million viewers, prompting a sequel called Ashes to Ashes to start on BBC One in 2008.
Life on Mars was a big success and scraped into the Guardian’s top 100 TV shows of the 21st century at number 99. The original British version was broadcast in numerous countries, from Australia to Canada, the US and Croatia.
Several countries also liked the time-travelling idea so much that they decided to make their own version of it. One example is in Spain, where they called it La Chicha de Ayer. As with the British original, the title makes reference to a pop song from the era that the main character travels back to.
The American audience also got to see a version set in New York. The twist, in this case, is that both versions of Sam Tyler were fictitious, as the characters were virtual reality representations of astronauts who were travelling to Mars in 2035. Otherwise, the basic premise is similar to the UK original, with a modern-day cop going back to the 70s.
Russian TV came up with their own adaption called The Dark Side of the Moon, featuring Mikhail Soloviev Jr. and set in Moscow. Interestingly, the Russians twisted the original by making the time-travelling cop tougher and more corrupt than those he meets in the Soviet era, rather than the other way round.
South Korea, China and Czech Republic all got their own versions of Life on Mars too, with varying degrees of success. For instance, the South Korean series earned an average of 4.6% of the nationwide audience share and actress Go Ah-sung won an award at the 6th APAN Star Awards for her role.
Game of Thrones – An Indian Version Is Planned
This hard-hitting fantasy drama is another series that has captured fans all over the planet. The series ended in May 2019, having featured over 70 episodes during eight seasons. 19.3 million viewers watched the series finale, making it HBO’s most-watched show ever.
Parrot Analytics analysed the global demand for the eighth series and declared it the most in-demand TV premiere in history. They calculated a per capita global audience demand of 25.46 the day of its release, with viewers from the US, the UK and France particularly keen to see it. This huge audience has led to an impressive spin-off in terms of merchandising and tourism.
For example, Croatia and Iceland have seen large numbers of tourists searching for the iconic spots shown in the series. The official HBO shop includes details of a touring exhibition that is in Madrid at the time of writing and costs €15.90 for adult tickets. There is also a concert experience that travels the US, including shows in Toronto, Boston and Chicago. Global fans of the show can also buy the likes of t-shirts, rings and bags online. Meanwhile, the franchise has moved into other areas of entertainment, with titles such as 2014’s Game of Thrones from Telltale Games. A look at the list of current Betway slots shows that there is also a slot from Microgaming featuring the main characters, with such IPs being a big pull for slots players.
The international demand for Game of Thrones led to some serious problems for translators, though. Spanish audiences were especially confused by the translations of the climax of the Hodor story and by the phrase “She can’t see us” getting turned into a word that made no sense in any language.
Despite the massive success of the original across the globe, there haven’t been any successful attempts at making foreign adaptations yet. This looks like changing, as there are various online reports of George R.R. Martin’s book getting transformed into an Indian series named Rani Mahal.
The name comes from the palace that was attacked by British forces in 1857, during the Indian Rebellion that led to changes in the way the county was governed. It has been reported that the Indian series will take place during this time period, but that the characters will be based on the A Song Of Ice And Fire books.
It isn’t clear how far advanced plans for Rani Mahal are. However, the reports to date suggest that well-known TV actress Sakshi Tanwar has been lined up for a key role. Parth Samthaan has been linked with the Jon Snow part and we can expect to see our other favourite characters too.
The Big Bang Theory – A Rip-off in Belarus
Between 2007 and 2019, The Big Bang Theory featured 12 seasons with a total of 279 episodes. Its socially awkward characters and cool jokes mean that it is a cult favourite in many different countries. In fact, it is so popular in Belarus that producers there made an unauthorised adaption of it called The Theorists.
The characters are incredibly similar to Leonard, Sheldon and others from the original. The script is also said to be very close to the American original. Chuck Lorre called it out on a vanity card and tried to sue for copyright infringement. He was told that the production company’s links to the Belarus government made this impossible.
Reports suggest that the actors left the series once they realised it was unlicensed, leading to the show being cancelled. Dmitriy Tankovich played Seva, who was based on Leonard. He said that “I consider this to be the rock bottom of my career” and that he didn’t want to appear in a stolen show.
Not every foreign adaptation of a popular show is a success. However, it is easy to see why international TV companies are often tempted to give it a try.