When streaming service Stan launched in Australia in 2015, one of the first great originals we received was the all Australian comedy No Activity, written and directed by Trent O’Donnell (New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). It was a bloody good selling point for the then, limited content streaming service… well, that and the Wolf Creek TV Series! As with anything great, the mighty U.S of A needs a good old fashion remake of their own right?
Copying any foreign show or movie and localising it is not usually a grand concept and comes with a lot of backlash from fans of the original content (look at some of the recent Anime to film (Death Note). I very much had the same feelings going into No Activity U.S. Season One, it didn’t help that the very first series (or at the very least, the first two episodes) seems to re-tread the entire plot of the Australian first season.
If you have never laid eyes on the show, No Activity follows two police detectives sitting in a car and staking out a property reportedly involved in a major drug operation, little do they know how little activity they will come across for days on end, leaving the two detectives short on patience but full of bullshit conversation (most of which is cleverly done improvisational comedy).
Shit gets even weirder when the original’s Patrick Brammall returns for pretty much the same role (harks a memory back to Wilfred, does it not?), but now named Nick Cullen and with an American accent! After watching two seasons of the original show with his Aussie accent, this takes some time getting used to, but credit to Brammall as he is also the cocreator. Tim Meadows (The Goldberg’s) plays alongside him as Judd Tolbeck . Both are in fine form and work well with what they are given. I think having Brammall back could have been a great cameo, but if your going to only get one of the original detectives in the car for the American role, why not get both? (Spoiler Alert, Darren Gilshenert turns up in a very minor cameo).
I attentively watched anyway and tried to free my mind of any of its source material, and for the most part I really enjoyed it. As with the Aussie series though, there are the same flaws with its extremely slow-moving plot points and character arcs. And when they finally do get to the point, thankfully it pays off sincerely enough to want more. After all, the tagline for the series is ‘Shit Happens, Eventually’. You can’t say we weren’t warned.
There are some surprising cameos and guest stars this time around and a major highlight for me was Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), another from Co-Producer Will Ferrell (actually rather bearable here), and the always enigmatic J.K. Simmons bringing just enough new flavour to the series and leaving me craving to see just where this series is going.
Will the rest of the episodes be a fairly close shot by shot remake, or do the Funny or Die team have something else up their sleeve? Also, would this have been just as funny if it had been originally released before the Australian series? I have an inkling it wouldn’t have been, Aussies just know how to hit the humour on the head a little better sometimes. We are a strange, rare and original breed; something I believe this show was as well. We will just have to wait and see how the US version lives up to those high expectations.
No Activity continues Stan every Monday night from 8 PM AEST.