Coupling — NBC Style

Posted by barb on Sep 27, 2003 in Random Thoughts |

Last fall, amidst the sniper excitement in DC, I was up late one night unable to sleep. Actually, it was the night that one of the shootings occurred, and I couldn’t sleep because of all the sirens (this particular shooting was about 7 miles from our house). I crept downstairs and turned on the TV, which was on our PBS station, WETA. (Oddly enough, once we started hearing all the sirens, Andrew and I tried to see if it was another sniper attack by scanning local channels. Instead of finding it on the local NBC, CBS, ABC, or FOX station, we saw a headline scroll across the BBC news on our local PBS station.)

The BBC news was over, and I caught the tail end of some British comedy. I either love or hate British comedy series, so I stuck around for a few minutes. That was all it took. This particular episode was called Volcano, and I stumbled in when the group was at a dinner party (hosted by Susan and Steve). Susan had come across one of Steve’s videos called Lesbian Spank Inferno. Steve was trying to explain that the movie was actually an artistic expression, rather than porn. (It was a losing battle.) I found out later that the series I’d stumbled on was Coupling.

A few weeks later, Andrew and I started recording Coupling every weekend, and even bought the season one DVD.

When we heard about the NBC version, we were a bit skeptical. The BBC series has a short season (on the order of HBO), so that they can keep the same writers through out each season. This ensures that each season maintains a high standard of writing. NBC will have to stretch each season out to 20 or so episodes. Also I’m not sure NBC can get away with some of the jokes that appear on the BBC series.

We watched the first NBC episode, which felt a lot like the BBC’s first episode. A few jokes were lost (in the BBC version, Susan asks Patrick when he chose his favorite breast), and of course the actors are all different, which might be my biggest sticking point. I’m used to Susan being blond, and seeing her played by a brunette is just confusing (it took me a while to figure out who she was supposed to be). The only character who mirrored her BBC version quite well was Jane. I suppose the new cast 1) needs to get more comfortable in their characters, and 2) may want to distance themselves a bit from their BBC counterparts, so that they aren’t just mimicking the other cast. We will probably watch a few more episodes — I want to see what NBC does with Lesbian Spank Inferno — but I don’t know that we will become fans.

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