Having watched both the US and UK and The Office, you were correct, though, that’s the thing.
That’s not exactly a diss on the US office, but the first season is quite like the UK version, the same broad tone, the same incompetent, oily boss, the same short season format (I think it’s longer, but not by much) - they’ve already toned it down a bit but it’s basically similar.
Then they “retooled” it for season 2, and transformed it from being really at all like the UK The Office, into a generic US sitcom along the lines of Cheers or Friends. It retains the conceit, (a long-term documentary being filmed at an outdated SME) and the broad strokes of the characters, except the David Brent figure, who goes from being an oily narcissist in S1 to a good-hearted, dim-witted, over-emotional bumbler who has more in common with Homer Simpson than David Brent. It stays slightly nastier than most sitcoms, but only towards certain non-essential characters (Toby, for example), and even then it often relents, and it’s only slight compared to a normal sitcom.
So the UK show approach literally didn’t work. They got lucky in that the network was willing to give them a chance to try and rescue it, I presume because they saw a lot of potential in the broad strokes of the setting/characters/scenario.
I believe any US take on Red Dwarf would have had to make similar changes to work - but I think the reason The Office US succeeded, ironically, was season one being the intro. Had they just come in being like they were in later seasons, I don’t think it would have gathered the audience it did (particularly the younger audience), because it would have just been a generic US sitcom. If they’d made the change from day one, I don’t think they’d have kept that edge of nastiness and the extreme-ness of some of the characters, either. Equally though had they stuck with that S1 style in all ways, it’d have never gone beyond being a cult hit which was perhaps influential a few years down the line, but not very successful.
So maybe you’d need a similar miracle/lightning strike with Red Dwarf? I.e. they closely ape the UK version, right down to the structure/season length and tone in S1, then you “lighten up” and go on longer in later seasons? I also think they would have to change the visual design and so on for the US version - that’s part of what makes the US The Office work - the setting is equivalent but in the US, not identical. Plus this was over a decade later, and I think that’s part of why The Office found any traction at all.
As an aside, the US showrunners get into some “The lady doth protest too much” stuff when discussing the the US version, where they’re very very “We HAD TO change this!”, because like, you can tell they’re feeling some guilt about doing it, because they changed it from realistic (“never trust a boss”) to totally unrealistic (“your boss is a great guy who has your back!”). You can tell you know this is total bullshit. On top of all that, one thing no-one talks about with Michael Scott (the US David Brent equivalent), is that in many ways, he’s basically Donald Trump. He’s dim-witted, self-regarding (initially narcissist but they change that), deeply overestimates his own intelligence, he doesn’t think the rules apply to him and is mad when they do, he makes everything about him and precious feelings, he rants continually about how unfair things whenever they don’t go his way, he’s entirely disconnected from reality, but he has a kind of innate shallow charm/patter that lets him get away with a lot of stuff, and he’s willing to use pretty serious dishonesty and criminality to get his way whilst simultaneously never accepting that it is dishonesty/criminality.
I see I’m not the only person who noticed this:
Re: Mandalorian S2, I agree with everything you’re saying, though the end worked for me for the same reasons a similar thing worked in the movie you note - overwhelming nostalgia/childhood villain/hero-ness.
Agree on the Beskar armour being an eye-roll. It’s like, there are two things that kill people in Star Wars - Lightsabers and blaster bolts - and Beskar is straight-up immune to both. I mean, it’s nice that there’s working armour in the SW universe (lol), but Mando seems more like he’s succeeding because of what he has, rather than who he is, or how skilled he is, a lot of the time.