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Ever Wonder What the Hell Went Wrong with NBC's "Coupling"?

I loved the UK Coupling. Still do. Everything about the series, from co-creator Steven Moffat (who's been popping up with more than a few Doctor Who writing credits to his name lately), was absolutely brilliant, from the hysterical and taut writing to the memorable characters. I own the DVDs and have watched them repeatedly.

So what exactly went wrong with the US adaptation of Coupling, which aired on NBC back in 2003 and never became the Friends-sized hit Jeff Zucker and NBC hoped it would?

TV Week's James Hibberd has the story, from Moffat's own mouth. It's only a paragraph but it's blunt and to the point.

My favorite bit: "If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you because they’re not funny."

Touché, Steven, touché.

Comments

TxGowan said…
I too really love the original and wanted this to work so badly but instead it was just bad. Leaden, I think would be the proper term.

It's not surprising that the network munged it up, though. Isn't that always the case? "Do less story arcs and more standalone episodes", "How about a funny sidekick?", "They should have a baby this season!"....all probable notes from the network that eventually sunk a show.
Anonymous said…
More than anything one other thing I think what truly killed the Americanization of Coupling was that the only changes in the first six episodes where to Americanize the language used and and the cast.

From the reports at the time the original scripts, which never made it to air, where supposed to be truly funny. Some of the original scripts likely should have been scheduled earlier in the run.

Two other contributing factors where NBC calling this the new Friends and that the original Friends was still on the air.

As How I Met Your Mother is proving now the general Friends formula can be duplicated however you are going to have a difficult time gettting the same sized hit again, even if your show is truly brilliant.

When Coupling came to NBC people were not ready to accept a new group of friends into their tv viewing schedule.

Lastly, the Gen X audience that may Friends a hit was not the young 20-something just starting out are their own anymore. They were more like Chandler and Monica at the end opf Friends, buying a house and looking to start a family. There were a lot fewer 20-somethings then to make the huge audience that Friends appealed to.

The entertainment market has truly changed now so it will be incredible difficultfor another show like Friends to ever happen.
Vance said…
I saw a later ep that never aired and wasn't a direct copy of the original (which to this day is one of my all time favorite shows), and it was a lot funnier. At first I blamed the actors for comedic timing but they were actually pretty good in the original episode (I think it was 7 or 8). Either way, since I hate Jeff Zucker too, I won't stop Steven.
Anonymous said…
Ouch!

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