How TV Show Adaptation Entertains
As the new fall 2011 TV season begins, we’ve decided to take another look at all the work that goes into the adaptation of TV shows in order to make them more accessible to foreign audiences.

From translating characters’ lines and altering cultural references to completely remaking the show with a new cast and setting, there are a lot of options and considerations that must be taken into account when deciding how to best adapt a hit show to be transferred overseas.

With information compiled from our past blog posts, here is a guide to some of the major factors at play when deciding to reversion or adapt TV shows in hopes of translating their success in foreign markets.

Reversioning TV Shows for Foreign Audiences

One option in adapting a successful TV show, such as “Glee” or “Game of Thrones,” to be broadcast in foreign countries is reversioning. Generally simpler (and less pricey) than remaking a TV show entirely, this form of adaptation involves linguistic translation and localization of cultural references.

When translating characters’ lines into foreign languages, two main options are available: subtitling and dubbing. Both have their own perks and drawbacks, which tend to polarize devoted TV watchers into two camps in a seemingly neverending debate, about which you can read more here.

Reversioning TV shows for foreign audiences goes beyond subtitling or dubbing though, as it is often not enough to simply provide a literal translation of culture-specific references. Whether it’s the name of a town in which the characters live or the show’s entire theme song, some elements of the original TV show may not be meaningful for foreign audiences. As such, an important part of the adaptation process involves localizing the content and coming up with suitable alternatives that will make more sense in the foreign context (without altering the original too much).

Want to know more about the process of reversioning TV shows for audiences in foreign countries? Check out our original post here.

Remaking TV Shows for Foreign Audiences

Sometimes, when there are significant cultural differences between audiences, reversioning a TV show through translation and localization of the dialogue isn’t quite enough. Comedies, such as “The Office,” and musicals, such as “High School Musical,” are genres that tend to fall into this category, as literal translation doesn’t always work when it comes to humor and music. In such cases, another option in the adaptation of the TV show is to remake or redo it entirely with a new cast in the target language.

Though reversioning may seem like a simple, more cost-effective option than this form of comprehensive adaptation, sometimes remaking a TV show from the bottom-up really is the best option. Since remakes are designed specifically for the targeted foreign audience, with more intensive localization efforts than their reversioned counterparts to make the show relevant and relatable, viewers are likely to be more receptive.

Interested in learning more about full-scale adaptations of TV shows for foreign audiences? Check out our original post here.

Regardless of the method, taking popular TV shows and transferring adapted versions of them overseas for foreign audiences is a major trend in the entertainment industry and will likely remain so long into the future. Just like the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” TV adaptation reaffirms the value of taking an existing, successful concept and milking it for all it’s worth.

What are some of your favorite TV shows with foreign adaptations? Which TV shows would you like to see reversioned or remade for foreign audiences in the future?

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