Dept. of Foreign Remakes

You know how an easy way to get a laugh is to post a clip of a foreign remake of a familiar show, where the script is the same but the language is different? This is one of those posts that does that. Think of it as an online version of Exporting Raymond.

Apart from the cheap laugh, though, I’m quite intrigued by overseas remakes; even when I don’t understand the language, I can sometimes tell what episode they’re doing, just because the original episodes have such strong and easily-adaptable situations. Take this version of Cheers, which launched in Spain earlier this year and seems to have spent more money than usual on the set (Though like most adaptations, they won’t pay for a studio audience, as Phil Rosenthal found out in Raymond. The accusation of using a laugh track, rarely fair for the original shows, is usually true for the remakes.) The scene in this clip is based on one of the earliest great episodes, “Coach’s Daughter.” Language barrier or no, it’s clear that the people coming into the bar are the old guy’s homely daughter and her obnoxious boyfriend. Sitcoms deal in the broadest, simplest types, and that can be a weakness, but it can also be a strength: these types translate anywhere.

Though adaptations sometimes seem to mix and match different character types, especially when the original ran a long time. The Spanish Cheers uses a female lead whose name is Rebeca and appears to be a Diane/Rebecca hybrid, and a Frasier analogue is there from the beginning.

The other remake I came across is the Dutch Mary Tyler Moore Show, adapted in the ’90s as a vehicle for a popular TV actress, the late Sylvia Millecam. The first couple of scenes in this clip, at least, are identifiable as being from the pilot (Dutch Phyllis tells Dutch Rhoda about why Sylvia left her old town; Sylvia meets Dutch Ted). The audience response here appears to consist of just the crew members laughing, which is a surprisingly durable technique for shows that can’t or won’t use an audience – The Soup does that, for example.

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