questionswhy can't we come up with our own good television…

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Network TV isn't totally devoid of creativity.

Fox has cancelled more great shows than anyone else has aired.

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@samstag: Agreed. Great shows get made, but then cancelled because the "masses" do not watch. If I were a network executive, whose job depended on ratings, I would buy crap to air because that is what people watch.

A better question would have been: " Why do people watch bad TV?"

So, the answer is, because people have bad taste?

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I don't think that Elementary is necessarily a ripoff of Sherlock as much as it is riding the coattails of a successful show with a loyal fanbase. Kinda like how a lot more Deal-a-day sites popped up after Woot. They weren't really ripoffs, just trying to make money off a good idea.

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I love Sherlock. I mean, really, really love that show. It is quite brilliantly done and I can't wait for the next season.

Elementary makes me nervous. If I had never seen Sherlock, I might love Elementary. But, now that I have, I'm going to have the cast from that show in my head and be doing a comparison.

There is also something about the format they use with the longer episodes but less per season. Each one is like watching an entire movie. It gives them the ability to explore a great story line without having to wrap it up in neat little 40 some odd minute package. Its like a mini series. And it is wonderful...

I just can't shake the feeling that Elementary will be some watered down version of Sherlock.

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@samstag: You nailed that one....I still miss Terra Nova. :( With the track record of Fox, it's a marvel that The Simpsons wasn't cancelled after 1-2 seasons.

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I think we need a few more Towing, Pawn Shop or Storage Locker shows....

....like I think I need hole in the head.

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On a case-by-case basis, it is easy to say that we rip off shows from the Brits, but they interpret shows of ours as well. The reason this happens is because, generally, our audiences respond to the same types of shows, with minor tweaks and changes.

Something that separates British TV from American TV, particularly dramas, is longevity. Many of the greatest BBC dramas were purposely designed to be high-concept miniseries (or mini-serials, as they say). The idea of being successful on American TV is 20 episodes a season (first 10 aired during fall with the back half in spring) for at least 3 seasons.

Most US showrunners/creators only have one shot at a major network TV show. If a show gets canceled, it becomes very hard to bounce back, especially given the limited primetime slots. Because Brits prefer 20 shows with 3 episodes rather than 3 shows with 20 episodes in a given time period, they are given a better shot at getting a decent tv show on air. It's just a different model.

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(cont.)
I bring this distinction up because of the case of adapting Sherlock to an American show. The closest example of this was the recent 2008 adaptation of The Eleventh Hour, also done by CBS.

The American version was boring and trite, with stories re-hashed from other American dramas as well as recycling some of the plot devices from the original British series. Plus, the British version had Patrick Stewart as opposed to a relatively unknown guy with a British accent doing an American accent. Patrick Stewart has enough cachet to attract people to watch almost anything, especially a 4-part series.

All adaptations don't fail like that, however, but there is enough similarity to say The American Sherlock probably won't fare well.

I think the quintessential "American" show, which is also my favorite series of all time, was Rescue Me. Nowhere else would that have worked, which makes it so special.

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I won't be watching Elementary because I really can't stand Lucy Liu, but on general principle I don't at all mind US adaptions of foreign shows. It just seems like an all-around win-win for everyone. They're already hits with a proven formula, so there's generally less risk for the producers and network. Audiences get a better show because the creators know what worked and what didn't in the original. The original creators get royalties, recognition for their work, and worldwide exposure. Everybody wins, nobody loses.