Today's THR reports that Warner Bros. has found success overseas by exporting 80s sitcom Perfect Strangers to Russia (titled Brat'ya po-raznomu, loosely translated as We Are From Different Lands and Yet Somehow the Same, New Friend). But the Russian producers are not content to merely rename Larry and Balki as Andrei and Ivan and recycle American jokes incomprehensible to local audiences, tasking themselves with finding their own ways to drive each episode's plot forward to the inevitable dramatic catharsis represented by the Dance of Joy:
"The time has come for these sorts of sitcoms on Russian television; viewers enjoy the humor, and they are shows all the family can watch and relax with," says Mileshin, a large, affable and bearded man. "We think the initial 50 episodes will be extended — there are options to continue in chunks of 26 — because its already getting the ratings and is popular with viewers."
But Mileshin is at pains to emphasis how different the Russian version is. "We've kept the essence — the dramaturgy — but some 70% of the episodes have been completely rewritten," he says. "Russian audiences don't understand American jokes, and a lot of detail needed to be changed. But Hollywood is the world's master factory for television, and we can learn a lot from each other," he says, adding that WBITV executives were "intrigued" by the Russian approach to fine-tuning the show.
THR further notes that Warner Bros., emboldened by the Russians' speedy mastery of the 1980s half-hour form, already have plans to adapt other shows, including Suddenly Susan, Step By Step, and Full House (tentative titles: She-Writer Love Quest, The Long March Of Comedy, and Merry Widower Mansion), confident that their eager foreign counterparts are ready to handle the rigors of the more advanced sitcom formats of the 1990s.