Not on the box.

England. Grey, depressing England. In many ways it’s a bit like America’s younger brother, doing handstands, shouting for attention; constantly running to keep up.

England makes the best of its situation, and when it really tries you can’t beat British humour: The Office, Partridge, Peep Show all great displays of top limey talent, all sadly overshadowed by the U S of A.

Leaving us inundated with imports, which is good actually. The Yanks do it better; from movies to TV their originality, higher budgets and Hollywood appeal helps take our mind off the depressing nine to five.

But on a closer inspection it seems they keep the really good stuff to themselves, so without further word type-age, here are four shows that you will have a hard time finding this side of the pond.

1. Saturday Night Live.

Started by a then lowly NBC employee Lorne Michaels in 1975, Saturday Night Live is one of the longest running and consistently popular TV shows ever, so naturally not many people here in the UK are aware of it.

A breeding ground for up and coming talent, SNL’s improvisational format helped forge the careers of many of today’s big names. Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Mike Myers to name but a few, all cut their teeth at 30 Rockefeller Centre.

Why didn’t it take off over here? Maybe it relies too heavily on predominantly American topical humour and cultural events that may fly clear over the heads of us Brits. Or perhaps it’s because the live format would go out of the window with the time difference.

One thing transcends the cultural divide however: comedy is universal, funny is funny, and maybe that is reason enough to see it in some form on our screens.

Although somehow “Live from Stoke it’s Saturday night” just doesn’t have the same ring to it . . .

2. The Late Show with David Letterman.

The longest running talk show host after Johnny Carson (who? I hear England cry) David Letterman paved the way for a new breed of talk show, combining interviewing guests from various fields with edgy humour and sometimes bizarre comic segments.

The result puts Jonathan Ross to shame. Letterman’s dry comedic wit gets him both in and out of awkward interview situations, guaranteeing hilarious results.

Top moments over the years? Andy Kaufman’s scuffle with a wrestler, Crispin Glover’s erratic appearance in 1987, Drew Barrymore flashing her chesticles, or more recently Joaquin Phoenix crashing and burning. The Late show has had no shortage of interesting and unusual moments.

You may be able to find Letterman on our shores. Simply search the graveyard slot of some obscure Sky channel and you might be in luck, but it will most likely be a rerun. Although better than nothing, it’s a far cry from the primetime play it so deserves.

3. Late night with Conan O’Brien.

Taking what Letterman had achieved and running with it, former Simpsons writer Conan O’Brien took the talk show format to new exciting places.

Star interviews and silly sketches, Conan’s unusual, wacky style entertained millions during its years on air, producing some hilarious comedy creations.

After all, how many shows do you know with colourful characters such as Triumph the insult dog, a cigar chomping ruthlessly honest talking pooch and The Masturbating Bear, a . . . well you get the picture.

The show came to a close on February 20th of this year, marking the end of a sixteen-year run. Not an episode of which graced our screens.

4. Arrested Development.

Ok so this one may have been cancelled back in 2006 but interestingly enough suffered the same fate here as it did back in it’s homeland.

Arrested Development followed the problems of the wealthy yet dysfunctional Bluth family lead by Michael (Jason Bateman). Lasting three seasons the real charm in this show came from its cast, all of who were on top form.

Accompanying the aforementioned Bateman were, among others, Will Arnett, David Cross and Michael Cera as Michael Bluth’s uncomfortably entertaining son George-Michael.

The show hit a dead end in 2006 after a string of scheduling problems, resulting in its cancellation. Not at all a reflection of the show itself, just an example of the difficulty to gain ratings for a show that its audience can’t find.

If you were watching late night BBC 2 during 2008 you might have caught some episodes of this gem. Although without sufficient advertising of its location, Arrested Development sadly faded away.

1 comment:

rob said...

On Sticks now!