HBO found recent success by trusting in British comedy TV creator Arnando Iannucci for their series Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Ricky Gervais has been bringing shows like Extras and Life's Too Short for years. Now the cable network is looking across the pond yet again for inspiration.
The network has ordered a pilot for a U.S. adaptation of Getting On, a British medical comedy that is heading into its third season on BBC Four. Big Love creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer are writing the adaptation; series stars (and creators) Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine are serving as executive producers.
The comedy takes place in a women’s geriatric extended care wing of a somewhat rundown hospital and follows a few nurses, some anxious doctors and hospital administrators as they deal with the harsh realities of caring for the elderly in an overwhelmed healthcare system. Despite a dark comedic tone, Olsen and Scheffer point out that the material also hit close to home and established a personal connection between them and the project:
”When we proposed the reformat to BBC Worldwide and HBO, the issues in elder care were very personal to both of us; Mark’s and my mother were in their 90s and attending to their care had come to be a big part of our lives. Getting On nailed that world with its deadpan humor and deep humanity.”
After seeing the dry, witty style of British comedy in the workplace setting of The Office; the Hollywood hustle and bustle of Extras; the computer savvy offices of The IT Crowd and the superhero hangout of No Heroics, taking this brand of comedy to a hospital sounds like just what the doctor ordered (seriously, no pun intended). However, I would've liked to see the series imported to HBO (rather than adapted) like any of Ricky Gervais' programming, especially since the series is still active across the pond.
The cast of the failed U.S. adaptation of the British comedy series The IT Crowd
Taking this kind of series and adapting it for U.S. audiences is always tricky. NBC's take on The Office took a while to find its true footing, and an attempt to adapt The IT Crowd failed completely, despite casting British star Richard Ayoade in the same role and pairing him with Joel McHale. The question is: just how will the U.S. adaptation of Getting On come together as a series if ordered. The first season in Britain only lasted three episodes, returned for a six-episode season 2 a year later, and has a third season coming sometime this fall with an unknown number of episodes.
HBO is doing comedy well right now with Veep and Girls getting second seasons and the surprise return of Eastbound & Down for a fourth season as well. Hopefully reteaming with the duo that brought five popular seasons of Big Love will prove to be another solid investment to deliver more great comedy.