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Russian Remakes Of Popular TV Shows


With the first trailer for the Russian remake of Chernobyl recently arriving, and with it the hinted at addition of the CIA's supposed involvement in the tragic nuclear meltdown, we look back at some other Russian TV remakes of popular Western TV shows that sometimes got a bit mixed up in translation...

"It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" became "In Moscow Always Sunny"
This short-lived 2014 Russian adaptation used scripts, characters and near like-for-like camera shots as the U.S. original. The character names were changed to Max “Thick” Borisenko (Charlie), Sergei Kovalev (Dennis), Alain Kovalev (Dee), and Roman Makarov (Mac), and the name of the bar was also changed to Philadelphia, as a nice nod to the original. The comedy, however, didn't translate so well. It's always surprising to me just how far the U.S. cast manage to push the boundaries whilst still not (overly) offending, yet in Russia, a country not exactly know for its liberalism, this particular skill didn't translate so well, meaning the clip above has something of a homophobic tone to it.

"Prison Break" became "Pobeg"
This Russian remake of Prison Break ran for two seasons from 2010 to 2012. The adaptation used a lot of the features of the original series, with some scenes and dialogue copied completely, but it also introduced new storylines and characters to reflects the Russian reality. Originally a third season was planned but this ultimately did not go ahead and the series was left with the fate of the characters unresolved.

"The Big Bang Theory" became "The Theorists"
They say that Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Well in 2009 Chuck Lorre became aware of a series produced and aired in Belarus called The Theorists, an almost like for like unlicensed Russian version of his show The Big Bang Theory. Legal action over copyright infringement would be as good as futile, since the production company was owned by the Belarus government. It seems the actors hired had no idea about the original version, thinking their show was unique. Once the truth was revealed actor Dmitriy Tankovich, who played Leo quit the show, revealing:
"I was embarrassed. I consider this to be the rock bottom of my career. And I don't want to take part in a stolen show"
With the cast all abandoning ship production ceased. Episodes have popped up online complete with English subtitles, and you can see just how close to the original it was above.

"Life On Mars" became "The Dark Side Of The Moon"
There was already an incredibly dodgy U.S. remake of this British series, but in 2012 Russia got in on the act too. Like the original series, although with elements rewritten to better fit the Soviet era, the series combined the genres of speculative fiction and police procedural, featuring a present-day police captain from the Moscow City Police called Mikhail Soloviev Jr who wakes up in 1979 after being hit by a car while in pursuit of a criminal in 2011. No David Bowie was to be heard though, as the title of the Russian version is a reference to the Pink Floyd album of the same name, owing to Pink Floyd's underground popularity in 1970s Russia.

Oh, and here's a twist. Unlike the original, Mikhail Jr wakes up in the body of his father, Mikhail Soloviev Sr.

"Luther" became "Klim"
Klim is a near direct remake of the Idris Elba starring British show Luther, a psychological crime drama television series but this time starring Konstantin Lavronenko as the title character, Detective Chief Inspector Klim. The 'action' is transplanted to Saint Petersburg, Russia, and somewhere in translation it failed to ignite a fraction of the buzz the original version has about it, so it only lasted one short season.

"How I Met Your Mother" became "How I Met Your Mother"
It wasn't only the title that was identical, the cast of this Russian version seemingly won their roles just by looking pretty much identical to their U.S. counterparts...

It's uncanny isn't it? The Russian version of Barney especially. The series only ran for two years, being cancelled before revealing how Dima (the equivalent of Ted) met the mother of his children, or if he'd end up with Katya (Robin).

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