Days Like These (ITV, 1999)
I thought that I would have yet another entry in my “were there any decent ITV 90s sitcoms?” series, and let’s see what the story behind this one is. In the 90s, ITV had some attempts at adapting American sitcoms for a British audience. The remakes of The Golden Girls (as Brighton Belles), and Married… With Children (as Married For Life) had already done fairly badly, but this didn’t stop them from trying again, and guess what happened.
The long-running sitcom That 70s Show launched in America in 1998 (and was briefly shown in this country on Channel 5 in the early-2000s), and in 1999, ITV decided to launch their own version. Now I am not as interested in 70s pop culture as I am in 80s pop culture (the spin-off sitcom That 80s Show that I reviewed a while back was a flop compared to the original though), but I thought that I would give this one a go.
There seemed to be more hype around this one than most sitcoms, this was going to be a fresh and funny show, which should do well with viewers. Days Like These was set in Luton in 1976 (it’s odd to think that this was almost 25 years ago even then), and centred around the lives of some very groovy teenagers, including Eric, Donna, and Jackie, along with some of their parents (one was played by Ann Bryson, who was also in 90s ITV sitcom Sometime, Never).
Most of the episodes were reworked from the American version, and were adapted by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (who would go on to work on Peep Show and various other comedies). There didn’t seem to be too many memorable moments though, and more effort seemed to be put in to trying to fit in as many 70s clichés as possible, such as characters wearing big brown flares, and space hoppers bouncing around between scenes. I wasn’t around at the time, was it really like this for the whole decade? They should’ve concentrated on the jokes.
ITV were initially confident that Days Like These would do well, and the earliest episodes were shown in a Friday primetime slot. And then, after vanishing from the schedule for a short while, some episodes were shown in a much later slot, it’s believed that at least three episodes were never shown at all, and there has been no DVD release either. And another flop was added to the rather long list.