Character names 101
> "At home in Sam's apartment building in the East Village, there's Windy, a free-spirited, post-hippie chick"
Really "Windy" rather than "Wendy"? Sounds like a load of guff to me.
Here's some good news for those of you who like a good British TV series with fewer British people in it and preferably set in the US of A: American viewers will later this week get to enjoy Life on Mars relocated to New York and with Harvey Keitel as "irascible" Lieutenant Gene Hunt. The blurb explains: Where were you in …
I've tried really hard and I can't think of one American adaptation of a 'classic' British series or film that has come anywhere close to the original.
Having said that, apparently the US version of The Office isn't bad (I've not seen it). I mean, Tom Hanks in the Alec Guiness role in The Ladykillers. What were the Cohen Bros thinking?
I hope it's a success though, I'd hate to be down on Harvey Keitel. Gary Oldman would've been good for that part, surely?
Of course this isn't their first attempt. A few months ago, I got my hands on early studio pilot (through Bittorrent) that featured Colm Meaney as Hunt with Jason O'Mara as Sam and it was set in L.A.
Unfortunately despite the impressive 1971 sets (they changed the year so they could include more references to historic events), it paled into insignificance next to the Brit version prompting the studios to cancel plans to film a series until they'd reworked it. This is obviously their second stab.
Colm Meaney was Gene Hunt in the leaked pilot, have they kicked him out?
It won't make any difference who they cast, it's on US network TV so Hunt can't say anything sexist/racist/politically incorrect because of all the censorship, thereby robbing him of all his best lines.
The original series used 70's British culture and society as it's basis and in particular 70's British cop shows (obviously). Thirty odd years ago US culture and society and cop shows were very different animals to their British conterparts, so there is very little common ground. Therefore there can be very little from the original scripts that will be usable.
Nothing against US TV here. After all very few US series have converted successfully to the UK. The original will always be better, in much the same way as an adaptation of a book will never be as good as the book. Except, of course, on those rare occasions where the entire book is directly transcribed to the TV script. Which is something you wouldn't do when adapting a British TV program to the US because you'd end up with exactly the same program.
Can you really see Keitel saying, "It's nearly teatime. I'm 'avin' 'oops."? Thought not.
It's just going to be another cop drama after a while. They're certainly not going to choose to end it until they milk a couple of seasons out of it, which in US terms is more than 40 episodes on a normal network show. Yeah, they'll be able to come up with 40+ quality scripts.
And they won't have the nerve to end the series the same way either. What kind of message would it send the children, who shouldn't be watching it anyway?
Oh well, hopefully it'll be better than "Payne", the lousy remake of "Fawlty Towers" starring John Larroquette.
And this is going to be no exception. I've seen the first pilot, with Colm Meaney playing the Gene Genie, and it was actually quite close to the original, but TPTB didn't like the "confusion of the situation" and ordered another pilot with whole new cast and new script, with the blessing of the original creators apparently. It seems that there is a good chance that Sam actually does go back in time in the US version from what I can gather. I guess the ABC execs didn't get that the confusion was one of the central plot-points...
Paris, cos she's often confused and needs to video everything as a reminder...
Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue...
The pilot version of Life On Mars US was set in Chicago & had Colm Meany as Gene Hunt, before NYC & Harvey Keitel got a look in. The plot (and most of the script) was IDENTICAL to the first episode of the UK original.
Mine's the one with an ORIGINAL IDEA in the pocket!
" "Oh for the love og God why can they not watch the orginal?"
That's what BBC America is for."
Nah, that's already over-edited. Got to make room for those commercials yer know and we can't be having any of that naughty lingo.
Much better off with the original downloaded from the 'net :-)
do you think that the idea of this just might actually be to avoid the liberal "read'em" their rights programs which dominates so much mainstream police shows now-a-days in the US? There are some popular ones already (The Shield, CSI:SV, 24, and so on) ... because they take such huge liberties in busting citizen's liberties... "the godless commies (terrorists) do not deserve constitutional protection. The heck with reading them their rights."
So instead of a guy who knows what is right and and struggling with the dilemma of working in such a climate as the 70's, we will likely see a more action packed program without any insight into the dilemma, the need for change, and and the good reasons which brought change about. All of which by the way, the BBC version played fairly well.
I would love to be wrong on this.
What's wrong with taking a TV series like Life On Mars and simply playing it to the US audience? Are they that retarded they can't cope with the idea of London?
Not sure what it's like over there in the UK, but here in Australia, we happily source TV shows from USA, UK, NZ and of course home brewed stuff. Surely the US market could do with some fresh blood from other countries that isn't just remade. Maybe then they'd know that there is more than just USA in the world (and shock! there are difference legal systems).
But Life on Mars itself depends largely on The Sweeney for it's anachronism. Wonder if that's why it was set in Manchestoh what with Mr. Thaw coming from there. Who is the yank equivalent of Regan?
And Mr. Haines: "cultural flatline" - we didn't get that till Maggie got in and fucked everything up.
It's not Xenophobia.
American TV bosses have a very low opinion of their audience's intelegence. They always assume that the American audience won't understand British TV and that it will need "converting" to American. They made the same assumption about Monty Python, but luckilly that made it to US screens in it's original form and history tells us that they loved it. However the bosses learned nothing from that experience and still insist on remaking everything they get their hands on. Most of the time it turns out to be a flop too, but they keep trying.
>> Here's some good news for those of you who like a good British TV series with fewer British
>> people in it and preferably set in the US of A:
I wonder how many US TV execs read El Reg.
Re: @Xenophobia, I reckon it's down to greed, they remake everything because they get to keep a greater percentage of the royalties (even though there are no royalties when it flops).
At the risk of sounding like 'Mr. Angry of Southend' writing to 'points of view'...
Why on earth do the American networks/studios insist on taking anything good made outside of the US, removing everything that made it special and regurgitating it with all the (new Americanised) plot points spoon-fed to the viewer like it was aimed at 5 year olds?
Just look at movies like 'The Ring' and 'The Italian Job' totally sodomised by US studios.
What the hell is wrong with them?
"Yeah Man! That Shakespeare is really hot right now! The network is very interested in producing a mini series of Henry Vee"
"But you know what I think would improve it? If we set it in New England and get the writer from 'Dude, Where's my car?' to rework the dialogue a bit. Awesome."
Let's start by disregarding quality or originality - the bulk of the audience for the US version won't ever know it's anything other than the original brainchild of the network, and nobody will tell them.
Now, you run a network in a country with different programming traditions, where quantity rules over quality, and praying to get to the magical 100 shows which means you've got residual global sales for ever (Friends, for instance). Faced with a choice between something truly original, and something that's been a hit elsewhere, it's an easy decision, you take the hit. You can't show the original, there are only around 16 shows, so even if the guys didn't talk kinda funny and drive on the wrong side of the road, you still couldn't rub the other networks faces in the fact you had a massive hit by coming back with a second and third series, so you have to remake it. Whilst you remake it, you make it more culturally appropriate, water down the language, work out how to spin it out over years (see The Office USA) by slicing the good stuff thinly and piling it on top of more same-old.
Remember, they don't *want* to remake the UK version, they want something they can *keep on making forever*. This means it will, guaranteed, jump the shark. In the UK it's seen as the pinnacle of excellence to leave the audience wanting more and remembering your show as being perfect; in the US it's preferred to flog the horse until it's not just dead but rotting and fly-blown beneath you, and everyone remembers that you had a good show once.
As for The Office USA, it's OK, but it's a completely different show. We're at the zany activities stage, the romantic threads are too important now (Tim and Dawn's counterparts have just got engaged), it's dying - but after 60 or so shows (compared with the 12 UK originals), what can you expect? It's spread thinly, but is really settling into another cookie-cutter sitcom, all they need is a sofa.
> The original series used 70's British culture and society as it's basis ...
Spot on. The original was ostensibly an "old" police procedural series updated with a "(far more) modern" DI character. But the "skeleton" for the plot arc was always "when really" was Sam Tyler innit. Going further with the anatomy analogy, I'd posit the plot's "tendons" were exactly those direct references to 70's British culture and society, as you might have said.
The BBC's "Test Card Girl" randomly appeared as the potential Fifth Horseman, "Insanity" (always creepy, to the point of frightening, except at the very very very end). An adult-ified "Camberwick Green" intro started one show. Both of these refs. reminded us of Sam's original predicament. These references (and more) drove the plot's signature quirkiness - that anything could happen next, instantly 3 decades away.
If the American version is only a derivative, it'll fail. There simply isn't the same cultural "tendons" from American 70's popular media to hold the plot branches together, 30 years apart, unless ...
> ... we will likely see a more action packed program without any insight into the dilemma, the need for change, and and the good reasons which brought change about. ...
*sigh* We've already had a Starsky & Hutch remake recently. But I agree with your assessment. Thank *** I have an all-region player to play the original series.
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