TV Surf Report: Hollywood Likes To Re-Make Foreign Series But Usually Finds Itself Lost In Translation


Santa Monica, CA —  Telenovelas from South America, Reality Competition Series from Great Britain, Crime Thrillers from Norway and Family Comedies from Australia.

All are being developed for US re-makes, but will What Makes Them Special get Lost in Translation?  It’s not easy.

Last year, 13 or so foreign series got the U.S. re-make treatment in an attempt to find the next Homeland, Ugly Betty, Dancing with the Stars, The Office or Big Brother, all of which originated elsewhere.

NBC failed with The Slap, an Australian drama. ABC failed with season two of Resurrection, a re-make of the French series, The Returned. Even AOL launched Connected, a reality show with New Yorkers armed with camcorders, a show that originated from Israel.

Amazon is set to premiere Mad Dogs, a U.S. version of a British drama about under-achieving 40somethings who reunite.  Shawn Ryan (The Shield) produces.  Steve Zahn, Billy Zane, Ben Chaplin, and Michael Imperioli star.

Fox has rolled over its cast-contingent re-make of Luther, Idris Elba’s popular UK detective drama.

Meanwhile, here are the Foreign Series up for US re-makes this year.  Most have script commitments, but several have series orders.

All the networks (including Basic Cable) seem open to re-makes.  NBC and ABC both have executives in the UK specifically tasked with looking for shows whose concepts can successfully cross The Pond.  Not so much with the streaming services, though.


  • Feed The Beast (Denmark) at AMC.  David Schwimmer and Jim Sturgess star as best friends who open a restaurant in this re-make of the Danish series, Bankerot.
  • Eyewitness (Norway) at USA is a crime thriller re-make of the Norwegian series, Oyevitne, told from the eye witness’ POV.  10-episode order.
  • Big Ballet (UK) at ABC.  This British reality show gets adapted as a dramedy about plus-sized ballet dancers.
  • Braunschlag (Austria) at ABC.  Comedic adaptation about a small-town female mayor who fakes a miracle has been ordered to pilot with a new name, Hail Mary!
  • Upper Middle Bogan (Australia) at CBS. Dan O’Shannon produces a re-make of the Aussie comedy about a flamboyant but loving family of drag-racers.
  • Hunted (UK) at CBS. Regular people on the run from highly skilled trackers compete in this one-hour reality series.
  • No Tomorrow (Brazil) at The CW is an hour-long romantic comedy script ordered to Pilot to be executive produced by Ben Silverman and written by Corinne Brinkerhoff (Jane the Virgin, which was also a foreign series re-make).
  • The Code (Australia) at Fox is a political thriller about two brothers.  Graham Yost (Justified) produces.
  • Familia En Venta (Colombia) at Fox is a half-hour single-camera comedy about the conscious uncoupling of an affluent Hispanic family starring Roselyn Sanchez.
  • Hypochondriac (Colombia) at Fox is a comedy about a woman who receives a fatal diagnosis and sets out to really live her life.  Julie Bowen (Modern Family) produces this telenovela adaptation of La Hipocondriaca.
  • Collision (UK) at NBC is a drama about a group of strangers whose lives are changed after a roadside accident. Carol Mendolsohn (CSI) produces.  10 episode-order.


Next Up:  Film Surf Report Preview of 2017 (Stock Tip:  Buy Disney)


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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