We have just finished watching the first season of the internationally top-rated Danish TV series "The Killing". I now see that we are way behind the times as the Danes have already broadcast their third season, and the Americans have done a complete remake of the first Danish season after splitting it into two seasons. We did not have to pay one centime extra to see this excellent series the original version broadcast in in the clear on the Franco-German public channel. Nor did we have to suffer through innumerible advertising breaks. In fact, we saw all 20 episodes in the space of three weeks (the same time frame as the murder investigation) without a single commercial. It was even rather tiring sometimes sitting through four hours end to end, with only brief hourly pipi stops. We wound up recording some episodes for the following day.
The news that there was an American remake did not surprise me, but led me to search critical comparisons. This was all that I found. This critic led me to believe that the US adaptation was almost as good as the original, which I doubt. Nevertheless, the critic asks the same question as I did: "Why did they bother", given the excellent quality of the original series. I haven't seen the version dubbed in English, but the French dubbing was perfect, and I can't imagine that the Brits would do worse. The decisive verdict is that the Danes have done two more successful series, whereas AMC dropped theirs after the first double series.
The question remains: "Why did they bother to do the remake?" Did the producers suppose that Americans are too self-centered or closed-minded to be interested in how another culure might treat such a horrible event? Or did they just presume that American TV would inevitably do it better? I doubt the latter interpretation because such suppositions have so often proved wrong: e.g. the original Swedish production of the Millenium trilogy.
Of course, you can always buy the Danish Season 2 on Amazon for $65, but you will need a dezoned DVD player to watch it. This brings up another gripe I have with the US media industry. Those guys do the maximum to push free trade when it's to their advantage, while at the same time creating artificial barriers such as DVD and Bue-Ray zoning to protect their monopolies.
Meanwhile, we continue to enjoy a good film free nearly every evening on French TV.