Ten Percent, first look at Amazon Prime Video: an entertaining but familiar remake

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Ten Percent First Look at Amazon Prime Video
3 Ten Percent First Look at Amazon Prime Video

Euan Franklin

Episodes watched: 2 out of 8

When Greg Daniels succeeded in the delicate task of redoing Office for American audiences, it was a mediocre effort…at first. It basically copied and pasted the plots and characters from the UK original, made it less gray, and reduced the swearing and awkwardness. But eventually, this American interpretation evolved into its own idiosyncratic property – unique and hilarious in itself.

You get similar vibes from ten percentAmazon Prime Video’s UK remake of the popular Netflix French comedy Call my agent! But this series still faces the anxious possibility of cancellation before it grows on its own. Writer/Creator John Morton (W1A) traces the original to central London, delving into the infuriating world of talent agents.

(LR) Prasanna Puwanarajah, Maggie Steed, Jack Davenport and Lydia Leonard. Photo: Amazon Studios.

At Nightingale Hart, the agents are just British versions of their Parisian counterparts. You have the pompous and opportunistic former agent Jonathan (Jack Davenport); hedonistic queer woman Rebecca (Lydia Leonard); the clumsy and anxious Dan type (Prasanna Puwanarajah); chic old guard veteran Stella (Maggie Steed), with her dog Mathias; receptionist and aspiring actress Zoe (Fola Evans-Akingbola); and rookie assistant Misha (Hiftu Quasem).

While this eclectic cast of characters is incredibly entertaining, their dynamic is very, very familiar. Each episode has a guest star playing with their own stand-alone stories, mirroring those of Call my agent! The first episode presents Course of action star Kelly Macdonald, who is set for the lead role in the new superhero movie birdwoman. But her age has the producers thinking, and she is considering cosmetic surgery.


Photo: Amazon Studios

There are some quirky flourishes. Tim McInnerny (black viper, The snake) does not enter as himself, but as aging and failing actor Simon Gould. It’s a walking tragedy of show business, whose failures can only generate a few laughs (the dark British schadenfreude is palpable). Also, Jonathan and Nightingale Hart’s boss, Richard, are made into son and father, which adds to the friction in the office.

Strangely, Richard is played by acting legend Jim Broadbent, who is one of the show’s biggest stars yet he doesn’t play himself. It’s shocking to watch, considering Broadbent is a more substantial name than Macdonald and we’re supposed to believe she’s more famous.

Likewise, it’s funny to see commonly seen British actors – including McInnerny – playing characters different from themselves. It’s as if they weren’t well-known or current enough to be considered guest stars. Were they insulted when they received the call?

But despite feeling like a cross between a remake and a rewatch (both inferior), ten percent retains the fiery fun of its source material. Only the first two episodes were available for review – the second featuring Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams in another familiar storyline – so perhaps the series will eventually develop an independent identity. London’s unique atmosphere, rushing through Soho, Leicester Square and High Holburn, offers at least something fresh.

Maybe the similarity of the series won’t be a problem for those who haven’t binged yet. Call my agent! But again, if so: please stop watching. ten percent and head to Netflix instead.

ten percent is available on Amazon Prime Video from Thursday, April 28.

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