Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

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The Best of ‘How I Met Your Mother’

How I Met Your Mother is, without a doubt, one of my favourite shows. There are so many great things about it and I think it’s premise is a great idea.

For those who haven’t seen it, it follows Ted Mosby as he tells his children – you guessed it – how he met their mother. He recalls stories about his life as a bachelor with best friends Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin.

In honour of the show’s return to UK television tonight, here I run through my favourite things about the show.

The Catchphrases

The show is full of catchphrases (mostly Barney’s) and unsurprisingly, they never seem to grate on you as a viewer. Some of my favourites include:

“Have you met Ted?” 

Due to Ted’s desperation to find a soulmate, his friends sometimes feel the need to introduce him to women he isn’t confident enough to talk to. This is one me and my friends love so much, we’ve taken to mimicking it on nights out.

“It’s going to be Legen – wait for it – dary!”

Barney thinks everything is legendary. Whilst his friends think he is too liberal with the word, he is always looking for things that will outdo the last in terms of “awesomeness”.

“Suit Up!”

Barney loves suits -so much so that in the 100th episode he sings a song about it. He is often heard telling his friends to “suit up” to join him on the hunt for women. Variations of the phrase have included “snow suit up” and “flight suit up”.

The Slap Bet

The best episodes of the show revolve around the Slap Bet. When Marshall and Barney debate why Robin won’t go to a mall, they bet on why, agreeing that whoever wins gets to slap the other. When Barney mistakenly thinks he was correct and slaps Marshall, they soon find out the real reason why Robin won’t go to the mall (see Robin Sparkles) and as the slap bet commissioner, Lily gives Marshall the right to slap Barney five times over all eternity. In a later episode, Marshall wins the right to slap Barney another three times, making eight in total.

The slaps happen at random times throughout the show and are often unexpected. The best one has to be during the episode Slapsgivingwhen Marshall terrifies Barney by introducing him to the “slap countdown” after the slap has occurred, he treats the gang to an original song he had written for the occasion “You Just Got Slapped”. 

Only six of eight slaps have been seen on screen so far.

Marshall and Lily

Marshall and Lily – or should I say Marshmallow and Lilypad – are the most adorable couple. It was clear from the start that they were destined to be together and whatever they’re doing is always sweet. When they’re separated, Lily sleeps with a Marshpillow and he has a pre-recorded “night night song” where he sings her to sleep. They live for Halloween when they can dress up in extreme couples costumes (such as Sonny and Cher and a pirate and his parrot) and are always there to offer Ted moral support.

Robin Sparkles

As previously mentioned, Robin doesn’t like going to the mall. No one can work out why, until they come into possession of a video from her past – a music video of ‘Let’s Go to the Mall’ by Robin Sparkles. It is revealed that Robin was a 90s popstar in her native Canada, although, because Canada was “a little behind”, she looks like she belongs in the 80s.

So far in the show, as well as her debut, we’ve seen her soppy ballad, ‘Sandcastles in the Sand’ and also her double act with Jessica Glitter (Nicole Scherzinger). This series we’ll see what happens when Robin Sparkles deals with unrequited love and discovers grunge…

Guest Stars

The show has seen a number of celebrity guest stars, many of which have joined the show for numerous episodes. Some of the most memorable have been:

Britney Spears as receptionist Abby. She becomes obsessed with Ted and stalks Barney, warning girls to keep away from him.

Mandy Moore as Amy. She gets drunk with Ted and encourages him to get a tattoo with her. Ted opts for a butterfly on his lower back… something he regrets in the morning!

Enrique Inglesias as Gael. As Robin’s first boyfriend following her break-up with Ted, it is expected that the gang will all hate Gael, but they all fall for his charms, even Marshall…

Nicole Scherzinger as Jessica Glitter. Jessica Glitter used to be part of a double act with Robin Sparkles on the show Space Teens. 

Jorge Garcia as the Blitz. The Blitz always misses awesome moments, when he joins the gang for dinner, his curse “the blitz” gets transferred to Barney.

Katy Perry as ‘Honey’. Ted can’t remember ‘Honey’s’ real name when talking to his kids but refers to her as “Honey” because when you recall things she says, you can’t resist replying with “oh honey” because of her naivety.

Katie Holmes as ‘the Slutty Pumpkin’. Ted spends years hoping to meet the girl who got away one halloween, only to find she doesn’t live up to his expectations when they meet again.

The casts real-life spouses have also featured on the show. Alyson Hannigan’s husband, Alexis Denisof, appeared as Sandy Rivers, Robin’s co-worker. Taran Killam, Cobie Smulder’s husband, appeared as Blauman, Marshall and Barney’s co-worker and David Burtker, Neil Patrick Harris’ partner, appeared as Scooter, Lily’s obsessive ex-boyfriend.

The Bloopers

I usually find the bloopers to any show hilarious, but because the cast are so amazing, I think these ones are especially great! Watch them below:

 

Freaks and Geeks: Then and Now

Note: This blog post will contain spoilers about the TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ 

Although lesser known in the UK, the Judd Apatow produced Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) has a cult following in the US despite only lasting for one season. The show introduced audiences to some of the biggest actors and actresses in film and television today and dawned the start of the ‘comedy clique’ that would frequently appear on-screen together.

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers [Getty Images]

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers
L-R: Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, Samm Levine, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr, James Franco. [Getty Images]

The show followed the Weir siblings, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley), and their respective friendship groups, the freaks and the geeks, as they went through high school during the 1980s. The show focused on friendships, family bonds, drug use, bullying and issues with self-image. It dealt with serious issues in a light way and, unsurprisingly considering the cast, had many hilarious moments.

The Freaks consisted of Lindsay, Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Ken (Seth Rogen) and Kim (Busy Philipps). They were a group of burnouts likely to be found smoking weed by the bleachers or sneaking out of class. At the beginning of the series, Lindsay is dealing with the death of her grandmother and the narrative predominately follows her questioning her faith and social standing as she begins to hang out with the ‘freaks’ rather than the mathletes.

The Geeks consisted of Sam, Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr). The series saw the Geeks trying to avoid bullies, deal with first crushes and coping with family issues.

Last year, Vanity Fair reunited all of the cast members publicly for the first time since the show was cancelled. They had previously held a reunion at PaleyFest in 2011, however, James Franco was not present due to filming commitments.

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of 'Freaks and Geeks'  for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Here is a run through of the best moments of Freaks and Geeks and the career highlights of the cast so far:

The Freaks:

Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)

Lindsay Weir

Best Moments

At the start of the series Lindsay isn’t the most likeable character. It is frustrating as a viewer to see her trying to be somebody she is so clearly not just to fit in with this group. But her best moments come when we see her compassionate side, such as when she talks about her late grandmother or when she defends Eli, a boy with mental disabilities. As the series goes on, she builds a friendship with Kim which is great to watch and it is endearing to watch her struggling with her feelings for the overly-keen Nick.

Notable Credits

Velma in Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Cassie in Brokeback Mountain
Nurse Samantha Taggart in ER

Current Projects

Voice work on Gravity Falls
Currently voicing Sharla in Out There.

Daniel Desario (James Franco)

James Franco

Best Moments

Daniel’s turbulent relationship with Kim offers some humorous moments, especially when he decides to agree with everything she says during episode 12, ‘The Garage Door‘. However, some of his best moments occur when he is communicating with the geeks. In the finale, Daniel is forced to join the Audio/Visual club after pulling the fire alarm to try and get out of a test so to be nice the geeks invite him to join them at their Dungeons and Dragons night, where they all bond over Daniel’s creation of Carlos the Dwarf (see below). 

Notable Credits

Harry Osborn in the Spiderman franchise
Aron Ralston in 127 Hours
Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Current Projects

Alien in Spring Breakers
Oz in Oz the Great and Powerful

Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel)

Jason Segel

Best Moments

Nick is the character who is freakishly loveable. He is obsessed with Lindsay, going as far as serenading her with Styx’s ‘Lady’ (cringe through the clip below) and later writing his own song for her, ‘Lady L’. His pride and joy is his 29-piece drum kit and he is initially convinced he can make it as a drummer, despite having no motivation to do anything about it. There are many touching moments between Nick and Lindsay where she tries to encourage him to be more ambitious, but he struggles to remain motivated under the watchful eye of his dad, who has warned if he doesn’t sort himself out soon, he’ll be going into the army.

Notable Credits

Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshallalso writer
Gary in The Muppetsalso writer
Tom in The Five-Year Engagement; also writer

Current Projects

Series 9 of How I Met Your Mother
Featuring in This is the End as himself
Rumoured to be taking the lead role in Dreamworks’ Undercover Cop an 80’s era comedy

Ken Miller (Seth Rogen)

Seth Rogen

Best Moments

In my opinion, Ken is so underused in the series. Although he is there early on to provide some witty one-liners, it is only when he gets a girlfriend during episode 12 that he more heavily featured. When Ken meets his girlfriend, Amy, Rogen’s performance is spot-on. He goes from the quick-witted, sarcastic character to the one who doesn’t know what to do or say.

Notable Credits

Officer Michaels in Superbad; also writer
Dale Denton in Pineapple Expressalso writer
Kyle in 50/50

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself; also writer
Linked to Nicholas Stoller’s Townies alongside Zac Efron
Linked to Anthony Leondis’ B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations

Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps)

Busy Phillips

Best Moments

When I watched the first few episodes of the show, I hated Kim Kelly. I thought the way she spoke to Daniel was awful and her mistreatment of Lindsay actually felt like bullying. However, by the fourth episode, ‘Kim Kelly Is My Friend’, that all changes. You get a glimpse of her dysfunctional family life and realise she mistreats others because that’s all she’s ever known. As the series progresses, her friendship with Lindsay grows and the two really care and respect each other, which is great to watch.

Notable Credits

Audrey Liddell in Dawson’s Creek
Hope Bobeck in ER
Laurie Keller in Cougar Town

Current Projects

Continuing to film Cougar Town
Featuring in Kat Coiro’s A Case of You

The Geeks:

Sam Weir (John Francis Daley)

Sam Weir

Best Moments

As Sam is quite a lot smaller than most of the other boys his age, he lacks a lot of self-confidence, especially when talking to his crush, Cindy Sanders. He’s a true mummy’s boy and worries about Lindsay mixing into the wrong crowd. There is an adorable moment when Lindsay decides to have a party whilst their parents are away, worried that their house will get wrecked, Sam buys a keg of non-alcoholic beer and swaps it with the original keg. Another great moment is when he tries to revamp his image to make himself look a bit cooler, however his choice of a blue jumpsuit doesn’t quite have the desired effect…

Notable Credits

Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones 
Carter in Horrible Bosses; also writer
Mitch in Waiting…

Current Projects

Ben House in Rapturepalooza
Writer of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Writer of Vacation

Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine)

Best Moments

Neal comes out with some of the best liners on the series – my all time favourite is “I’m Jewish. That’s no cakewalk either. Last year, I was elected school treasurer. I didn’t even run!”. He is convinced he is older than his years and that he can charm Lindsay into liking him and after finding out his dad is having an affair, he starts to speak to people through a puppet. Whilst Levine is hilarious during the funny moments, he also makes your heart melt during his more emotional scenes.

Notable Credits

Pfc. Hirschberg in Inglourious Basterds
Spanky in Sydney White
Appearances in Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and 90210.

Current Projects

Uncredited role in jOBS
Pranked caller in Miss Dial
Matt Nealy in Phys Ed

Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr)

Best Moments

I could write an entire blog post about Bill Haverchuck, who is, without any doubt, my favourite character on the show. In a show full of amazing one-liners, his are always the best and the way Starr uses simple mannerisms means that even when he’s not speaking, Bill is the person you are watching. From getting drunk whilst watching Dallas, drinking a concoction of disgusting food that Sam and Neal have blended together to earn ten bucks and trying to teach the boys how to “dance sexy”, he is always providing laugh-out-loud humour. However, his best moment has got to be his halloween costume… (see below)

Notable Credits

Martin in Knocked Up
Joel in Adventureland
Appearances in How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Community

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself 
Todd in The Lifeguard
Roman DeBeers in Party Down

Top 5: Christmas Entertainment Releases

I’ve, surprisingly, found myself to be organised this year and have got my presents already – mainly because my family are all advocates of the “tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you” scenario – but I know how difficult it can be to buy for people when they don’t know what they want themselves.

At the request of a reader I’ve compiled a selection of, what I believe to be, the best entertainment releases just in time for Christmas.

1. Dynamo: Magician Impossible Series 1 -2 – I was fortunate enough to be working in the UKTV offices during the launch week for this incredible series and all the staff were talking about how amazing Dynamo is. I knew little about him before getting the opportunity to watch the first episode on a lunch break and I have been obsessed ever since. It is often the case with magicians that you suspect how they do their tricks or put it down to impressive camera skills, but I can honestly say I have no clue how he does any of his tricks. There are numerous celebrity appearances on this show including Travis Barker, Rio Ferdinand and Ian Brown.

Dynamo Magician Impossible Series 1-2; £18.85

Dynamo Magician Impossible Series 1-2; £18.85

 

2. Jack Whitehall Live – It’s no secret that I adore Jack Whitehall. I’ve seen him live twice now and found him to be absolutely hilarious. Sometimes his middle-class persona can be perceived as self-righteous but he certainly seemed to be very grounded and humble when he agreed to do a Q & A session for me. I suspect we may have heard some of the jokes on this dvd from his panel show appearances, but that’s to be expected. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing this one myself.

Jack Whitehall Live; £13

Jack Whitehall Live; £13

 

3. Far Cry 3 – Fans are already coining this the ‘Game of the Year’ and it’s clear to see why. The game really focuses on what should be included when focusing on open-world gameplay. Set on a lawless island, the lead character, Jason, and his friends are kidnapped by pirates. Jason is able to escape but must work to rescue his friends. Outside of missions, there’s an array of activities to complete, including taking over outposts and radio towers, collecting memory cards and hunting (not for the squeemish).

Far Cry 3; £39.97

Far Cry 3; £39.97

 

4. The Dark Knight Rises – Rounding up Christopher Nolan‘s Batman Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises was a critical and commercial success when it was released in July. The film follows Batman as he c0mes out of retirement to stop the militant  Bane from destroying Gotham City. The film also features the brilliant Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway.

The Dark Knight Rises; £10 DVD, £12.50 Blu-Ray

The Dark Knight Rises; £10 DVD, £12.50 Blu-Ray

 

5. Playstation Move: Sports Champions 2 – Last Christmas, my family found ourselves playing the first Sports Champions game in our down-time. It’s incredibly fun and with an array of different activities, can keep you entertained for hours. This new edition includes six new events – golf, boxing, bowling, skiing, tennis and an updated archery mode.

Sports Champions 2; £12.99

Sports Champions 2; £12.99

Q & A: James Buckley From The Inbetweeners

When James And I First Met in June 2009

Like my previous interview with Jack Whitehall, about a year ago I had a Q & A session with James Buckley, famous for playing foul-mouthed Jay in E4’s The Inbetweeners. At the time, James was frequently in the press as he had been filming for the prequel to Only Fools and Horses, ‘Rock & Chips‘, playing a young ‘Del Boy’, a role made famous by David Jason. Here’s what he had to say:

How long have you been acting?
I got my first professional job when I was 11.

Has acting always been what you wanted to do as a career, or did you have anything else in mind when you were younger?
I didn’t ever really decide on one thing I wanted to do as a job. Working never really seemed worth thinking about when I was mucking about with my mates at school.

What was your first acting job?
My first job was in the West End Musical ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ at the Aldwych Theatre.

How did you get the part in The Inbetweeners?
I auditioned for a pilot called ‘Baggy Trousers’, which is basically the Bunk Off episode of ‘The Inbetweeners’. I played Neil in the pilot though.

Do you have any say in any of the storylines of ‘The Inbetweeners’? How involved are you creatively?
We have a couple of little meetings before discussing ideas and us boys are close to the writers so we’ll email or text them funny stories that happened to us while we were at school but it’s mostly down to the writers. They deserve a lot of credit I think.

How did the part in the ‘Only Fools and Horses’ prequel come about?
Again, I just auditioned with everybody else. I wasn’t given any special treatment for already being on TV or anything.

How does it feel to be involved in such a huge programme, with such reputable actors?
It’s a great feeling and something I’m very proud to be involved with. Working with the likes of Phil Daniels and Nick Lyndhurst is a dream come true to a young actor. I made sure I listened to every word they had to say.

Do you have any stories from the set to share?
I did start singing Park Life to Phil Daniels one day, it didn’t go down too well.

How did it feel meeting David Jason? Did he offer you any words of wisdom?
It was a dream come true meeting David Jason. I was in absolute awe. He didn’t offer any wisdom specifically, but having lunch with David Jason, Nick Lyndhurst and John Sullivan and listening to them talk about how they made the original show was so interesting and I’m very lucky to have been in that situation.

You always seem to be busy, what do you do to relax in your spare time?
My spare time is just spent with friends and family. I’m lucky enough to have the same friends from Dagenham since I was about 4, so it might be lunch with David Jason one minute and them lot bringing me right back down to earth the next.

Finally, so many people ask whether you’re similar to Jay, do you ever get offended by that?
I don’t get offended at all. I’m so pleased to be a part of ‘The Inbetweeners’, I just take it as a compliment that my performance is so convincing.

‘Rock and Chips’ was picked up for a series, which James is now filming and there are plans for an ‘Inbetweeners’ movie, so it’s safe to say this Essex boy will be on our screens for some time.

One To Watch: The Hangover 2

 

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha & Ed Helms return for the Hangover 2

2009’s surprise hit The Hangover, directed by Todd Phillips, was the tenth highest grossing film of the year, with a worldwide gross of over $467 million. The film won numerous awards including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (musical or comedy), so it is no surprise that it spawned a sequel. The Hangover 2 is due to be released on 30 May 2011 in the US so it is likely to have a UK release in early June.

There has been lots of speculation as to what the plot of the film could be. It has now been revealed that the men will now be heading to Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding.

A Warner Bros. press kit reveals:

“After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. However, things don’t always go as planned. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok can’t even be imagined.”

Q & A: Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

A year ago, I had a Q & A session with comedian Jack Whitehall as a part of one of my university assignments. At only 22 Jack has already fronted his own TV show The TNT Show alongside Holly Walsh and is a regular guest on panel shows Would I Lie to You? and 8 out of 10 Cats amongst others. Here’s what he had to say at the time:

You’ve done some acting in the past, is it something you would want to do more of in the future?
Yes, I’m currently going up for various roles in things and trying to develop a sitcom. I acted a lot when I was younger and I’m keen to return to it.

What television show would you love to be in?
The thick of it is fantastic. I love the fact they cast so many comedians as well as straight actors in the funny roles and the writing’s superb.

Who were your influences growing up?
I started out watching people like Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard, I then found Bill Hicks and as I went into more live comedy I became influenced by some of the less mainstream circuit acts like John Gordillo.

You’ve worked with a range of huge comedians, who is your favourite person to do shows with?
Frankie Boyle always makes me giggle like a little girl and Jason Manford’s one of the kindest and warmest people you could ever work with.

Do you have any funny stories to share from working on the quiz shows?
Frankie Boyle made a really rude joke about Adrian Chiles when Christine Bleakley was on Would I Lie To You? It was so bad they cut it from the broadcast, but it was hilarious because her parents were at the record of it which added extra awkwardness.

Your website says you were initially a child actor, what made you want to pursue comedy?
Well I was always a show off and I loved acting in sketches so it seemed like the natural thing and the purest way to get laughs.

How did it feel presenting ‘Big Brothers Big Mouth’, not having done much live television before?
I was so scared but as with all experience like that it’s about tricking yourself into being confident if you think “yeah I can do this” then you tend to be able to, so I prepared loads and then just tackled it head on. I was terrified I’d have the urge to shout c**t on live tv.

How does it feel to achieve so much success at such a young age?
It just puts more pressure on you to deliver. I don’t really think about my age just what’s going to come next.

Your jokes focus on stories of your family’s anecdotes, how do your parents feel about being the butt of your jokes?
My mum complains and my dad always just says “ha he’s talking about me!”.  He’s proud really!

How did it feel presenting ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ this year?
Nervous but very excited, as a fan of the show I wanted to do the job justice.

Do you prefer doing stand-up, acting, presenting or being on the panel-shows?
My answer is 100% stand up comedy. There’s no one to tell you what you can or can’t say.