You might not know it, but U.S. TV studios sends a lot of their shows to Russia (with love, of course). The Nanny, Prison Break, and Everybody Loves Raymond are just a few series that can be seen from Moscow to Murmansk. And if Russian TV execs love our shows, so too do their counterparts in Argentina, Turkey, India, and many other countries of the world.
And we’re not just talking Friends dubbed over in another language. No, these are full-on remakes in which characters and storylines have been adapted to reflect local tastes and sensibilities. In an upcoming Colombian version of Breaking Bad, for example, Walter White is now Walter Blanco. But let’s take a look at a sampling of shows already airing all over the globe.
The O.C. (Turkey)
We’re rather doubtful there’s actually an Orange County anywhere near Istanbul, or all of Turkey, for that matter. But The O.C. will still come to Turkey, with a 13 episodes following the same storyline Fox brought us from 2003-2007. Expect to see an affluent group of people changed by an outsider. Just don’t expect to understand any of it, unless you speak Turkish.
Law & Order (UK)
While the language isn’t entirely different — oh, we understand the subtleties — the laws certainly are. This remake required a hefty legal analysis to keep the crime drama in line with the differing police procedures and judicial systems. So while you won’t need an interpreter to understand the lines, you may need a law book to understand the story.
The Simpsons (United Arab Emirates)
Delete out beer, bacon and all things anti-Koran and you have a The Simpsons remake for Dubai, dubbed Al Shamshoon. With Omar and Mona Shamshoon — and son Badr — as the leads, this show certainly got lost in translation, a likely scenario considering Omar can never have enough soda (not beer) and nobody goes to Moe’s.
The Nanny (Russia)
Without Fran Drescher is The Nanny still The Nanny? The Russian version of the show, My Wonderful Nanny, proved so popular that it used up all the storylines from the American version and hired American writers to conjure up more. The answer must be: Yes, The Nanny still performs without Drescher. At least in Russia.
Married … With Children (Argentina)
Okay, so not just Argentina. Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, U.K. This former Fox show has spawned a United Nations of dysfunctional families. While some prove popular and others lasted only for a few shows, remaking this 1990s classic turned into a pastime in the television world, called everything from Happy Together, The World According to the Kiepskis, The Waters of Marriage and, quite simply, Married With Children.
Everybody Loves Raymond (Russia)
The export of this show to Russia was the subject of an amusing 2010 documentary (below) in which we learn that nearly everybody does love Raymond — the sitcom has been been redone in an impressive number of countries including Israel, Holland, the Middle East and, soon, England. (As is often the case, the show is often re-titled — Everybody Loves Raymond is known in various locales as Close Doors, Everybody is Crazy About Jack, You Can’t Choose Your Family and The Smiths.)
The Golden Girls (Greece)
TV viewers enjoy a bit of old-people humor in all parts of the world, just ask those who have watched remakes of The Golden Girls in Russia, Israel, Greece, Turkey and Spain.
Prison Break (Russia)
Re-titled Pobeg, this gritty adaptation keeps intact the story of two imprisoned brothers — one put there by miscarriage of justice, the other who puts him himself there to plan an escape for both of them.
Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor (he played the game-show host) purchased the rights to this high-testosterone espionage series — he produces and stars in this localized version, sensibly if unimaginatively, called 24 India.
Who’s the Boss (UK)
The Upper Hand (featuring Goldfinger Bond girl Honor Blackman in the role played by Katherine Helmond) was something of a hit with Brit viewers — the show ran for seven years.