Bill Lawrence used to get me. Spin City, Scrubs, even Cougar Town for a little while. Things were good, but lately Lawrence has had a questionable track record with TBS’ minimally funny workplace sitcom Ground Floor, the middling Surviving Jack, and NBC’s Undateable.
I wish that I could say that the future looked bright, but two weeks ago, news broke that Lawrence would team up with Brett Ratner to take a stab at bringing Rush Hour to the small screen and now, according to Deadline, Lawrence has set his sights on another adaptation.
Bill Lawrence already is shepherding a series adaptation of a hit feature comedy, Rush Hour. Now the prolific producer is looking to do the same for one of the most popular British comedy series of the past decade, TheIT Crowd. In a competitive situation, a multi-camera U.S. version of Channel 4’s The IT Crowd from Lawrence, Community alums Neil Goldman & Garrett Donovan and Warner Bros. TV has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment.
Some of you may recall that NBC previously tried to shake gold from the IT Crowd concept, casting a pre-Community Joel McHale to replace UK series star Chris O’Dowd while asking Richard Ayoade to reprise his role. Jessica St. Clair and Rocky Carrol were also involved. Curious types might be able to find a clip or two from the pilot episode on YouTube. I’d suggest that Lawrence do the same thing before getting into this mess, but it’s probably too late.
To put it bluntly, the show was no good. Maybe I’m biased because of my love for the original, but it felt awkward and unfunny and McHale and Ayoade had very little chemistry in the pilot.
I don’t think that Lawrence’s version will have to worry about pairing someone with Ayoade this time around since the actor has a solid second career as a director in full effect right now, but that likely absence poses another challenge: can you recreate the magic that is Moss while resisting the urge to do a sh*tty Richard Ayoade impression? That’s like trying to replace Kramer on Seinfeld, it’s such a singular character. Maybe it’s just best to go in an entirely different direction. Maybe it’s best to do that with the entire show. I know that The Office worked as a UK to US port, but it had to peel off the skin of the Ricky Gervais created original and that’s the most disgusting analogy I could come up with.
For NBC’s sake, I hope that this turns into a hit, but even if it’s amazing and unique, I’m probably just going to stand on the sidelines and snipe at it while looking down on people who have never seen the original, as is my right.