C4 drama Homeland is building up momentum in both impressive reviews and audience figures since its UK launch in February. Attracting ratings of up to 2 million every weekend, series one reaches its finale this Sunday (6th May 2012).
Starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, Homeland tells the story of an American Marine left for dead in Iraq who is rescued after years in captivity. Feted as a returning hero, he tries to re-adapt to life in the US, but amid the continuing terrorist threat not everyone in the CIA believes his story.
In the States, Homeland also benefited for being quoted as President Obama’s favourite show – whether that’s evidence it rings true, or serves as fantasy escapism for Obama while he’s trudging through Health bill reforms and pardoning turkeys at Thanksgiving, only he will know.
Yet despite its stars subsequently visiting the White House, Homeland is actually based on an Israeli TV series Hatufim (Prisoners of War).
Homeland is not the only US foreign drama remake doing the rounds. Series 2 of the US remake of Danish TV drama The Killing has just started screening on C4. The Danish version was screened last year to great acclaim on BBC4.
The Killing’s fellow successful Scandinavian thrillers Borgen and The Bridge are also rumoured for English language remakes in the UK.
Meanwhile, back in the US, In Treatment staring Gabriel Byrne as a conflicted psychiatrist has garnered a host of Emmy and Golden Globes nominations and awards across it’s three series despite being frequently a word-for-word translation of another Israeli series, Be Tipul.
Hollywood remakes of foreign films have been a regular feature of cinema for years from The Magnificent Seven to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now the practice has moved to the small screen.
So how television is produced has changed. But how we consume that TV is also changing. Blogs and twitter are becoming central to how channels, newspapers and websites promote and review shows. Parallel alternate language versions generate even more discussion, opinion and speculation. Who did kill Rosie Larsen? Is Brody a double or triple agent? Is the remake better? Some fans will always prefer the originals. Many will not have ‘subtitle patience’ . In other circumstances, the tension these shows thrive on is lost after viewing the English language version first. However, at a point when through multi-channels and multi-platforms the cultural resonance of television seemed to be fracturing into something much less than the sum of its parts, ‘event TV’ is suddenly back on the agenda.
Post by Tim Kerr, Joint Managing Director @TNR Communications