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British Invasion

Try naming some new television programs making their way into America’s homes this January. You might think of NBC’s new shows “The Cape” and “Harry’s Law.”

However, once you move away from basic cable, you’ll hear about shows such as “Being Human,” “Shameless” and “Skins.”

Popularizing the idea that Americans can’t think of good shows themselves, those aforementioned three come as gifts from our friends across the pond.

The Spinnaker took a look at these new shows and compared them to their United Kingdom counterparts.

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Being Human

Three friends live together: One has a special time of the month, one feeds off of women and one hardly makes herself visible.

Sounds like your living situation, right?

This show documents a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost who live together in a house; as the series unfolds, more and more supporting characters find out about their abilities.

The British T.V. show launched in 2008 on BBC Three, with Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner and Lenora Crichlow as the three respective protagonists.

It hit American homes Jan. 17 with a pilot that closely resembled the original.

Except this time, the ghost character, Sally (Meaghan Rath), is a little more comedic and a little more annoying than Crichlow’s portrayal.

Although the U.K. version deems itself an austere drama, the American copy has more laughable moments thrown into the brew.

Some lines of dialogue include “Should we call 9-1-1?” “You’re a werewolf!” – an exchange that occurs between Aidan (Sam Witwer) and Josh (Sam Huntington) when they hear Sally for the first time.

Shortly after, Sally makes a “Twilight” reference and solidifies her comedic relief role.

Who better to play the werewolf than Sam Huntington? Don’t recall that name? Think Mimi-Siku from “Jungle 2 Jungle.” Please don’t use the Spinnaker to clean up your blown mind.

True to its original, the show chronicles the werewolf and vampire hospital workers wanting to rid themselves of their daemon burdens while their ectoplasmic roommate pesters them to help her find a way to pass on.

Molding medicine and vampires? The producers clearly know what types of television shows America craves.

Here’s a fun fact: During its American debut, a commercial for “Skins” aired. Coincidence?

You can check out the paranormal house for yourself on SyFy every Monday at 9 p.m.

Dad’s a broke drunk living from disability check to disability check – even though he has no disabilities. Mom’s no longer around. Eldest sister Fiona (Emily Rossum) keeps the family together. This is the plot of both versions of “Shameless.”

Now in its eighth series, the show began as, and still is, a show on U.K.’s Channel 4.
The American version, which features William H. Macy as the leader of the Gallagher crew, dropped Jan. 9 on Showtime.

It’s a comedy-drama based around the six-child family, its cooky, in-love neighbors and a mysterious car salesmen — well, he sells cars — who’s been in love with Fiona longer than she’s known it.

The Showtime pilot episode went almost word-for-word with its U.K. counterpart. Of course words like “bloke” were replaced with “guy,” foodstuffs like potatoes with apples and names like Gemma with Jenna.

Basically, it’s been Americanized.

The setting moved from a fictional town in England to the New York boroughs.

But fans of the U.K. version have something to which they can look forward. Paul Abbott, writer-executive producer for U.K. “Shameless,” earns his name in the credits as a writer-exec producer for the American version.

This either means that the show will be different or it will follow the same paths as its U.K. twin.
Oh, and fans of Rossum who remember her from that Disney Channel Original Movie “Genius” will be in for a more grown-up surprise. Hey, this is British television that’s on an American premium network – of course she’s gonna show some skin.

Don’t feel shameful when you check out this Showtime program at 10 p.m. on Sundays.

If you’ve watched the British version of this show, you’ll be able to hear its familiar jingling theme song during this portion of the story.

“Skins” is the perfect teen drama. It has sex. It has drugs. It has raves.

It seems everyone grew up and out of “Degrassi: The Next Generation” – we can all see Aubrey Graham (you know him as hip-hop star Drake) grew out of it – so American teen programming had to further the limits of what it means to “go there.”

So, while that Canadian show still streams new episodes on TeenNick in the states, “Skins” traveled across the Atlantic to really delve into American teen-party culture.

The U.K. version of the show, also on Channel 4, turns nobodies into somebodies. Ever heard of a little film called “Slumdog Millionaire”? Dev Patel first acted in two series of “Skins” before landing a role in that Academy Award-winning film.

The U.S. version followed along. The show boasts a list of actors you’ve probably never seen.
Like its English twin, the American version focuses each episode around one character, whose name mirrors the episode’s name.

Differences between the two versions? Hardly any. The pilot episode that premiered Jan. 17 followed almost verbatim the original. Some notable changes include gay character Maxxie being changed to lesbian character Tea.

And while Tony, Michelle and Chris all earn the same namesake, the other characters have original, Americanized names.

You, too, can get in with the cool kids at River Mountains High Mondays at 10 p.m. on MTV.

Helpful Lingo:
Series – What Americans call a season is called a series in the U.K. In the British version of “Skins,” an entire new cast comes in after two series.

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  • C

    ChrisJan 19, 2011 at 1:11 am

    The British car show Top Gear (the number one show in England and the number one most illegally downloaded program on Earth) also spawned a U.S. spin-off on History that just wrapped up it’s first season.