Take a good thing and fail! Life on Mars problems


Creative Writer
We (over here in the UK) thought it is a ridiculous notion to take a recently aired show and remake it for US audiences. If it's so good, then won't simply watching our version of the show be good enough? The language is the same (okay, so there's probably some words that lose their impact.) The fact it is set thirty years in the past might cause issue, but then a lot of viewers won't even know what their own locality was like then either.

The gamble on remakes appears to be failing here as Life on Mars the US version fails at first unaired pilot episode goes from LA to New York for attempt number two.

US version of Life on Mars gets lost in translation

As fearful producers switch setting from LA to New York and threaten drastic changes, the BBC hit's remake is in for a bumpy transatlantic ride

As Gene Hunt might put it: 'If I was as worried as you, I wouldn't fart for fear of messing myself.' Unfortunately, the worrying is now being done by TV executives whose American remake of the time-travelling drama Life on Mars is stuck on the starting blocks.
The hit BBC series starred John Simm as Sam Tyler, a detective who finds himself transported back to the fashions, pop culture and politically incorrect policing of Hunt and company in Seventies Manchester. America's ABC network had been confident that its own version, based on male chauvinist cops in Los Angeles in 1972, would be a guaranteed ratings winner this autumn.
But a pilot episode, shot on the streets of LA in lavish period detail, now seems unlikely to make it to the screen. Executives have decided in effect to tear up the show and start again, moving it 3,000 miles east to New York. Its writer-producer has quit and it is believed several cast members will be replaced. 'The series has already suffered an exceptionally bumpy ride into the future, even by the Alice in Wonderland standards of television programme development,' the Los Angeles Times noted.
Life on Mars would not be the first UK show to get lost in translation, following in the wake of flops such as the US incarnations of Cracker and Coupling. But after recent successes such as The Office, which achieved the leap from Slough to Scranton, Pennsylvania, British shows are now more fashionable than ever, with the thriller Eleventh Hour and the comedy Gavin and Stacey among those bought by American networks.
The stars of the Life on Mars pilot are not American, but Irish. Tyler is played by Dublin-born Jason O'Mara, a former Royal Shakespeare Company actor who appeared in TV series including Monarch of the Glen before breaking into American TV. The role of hard-drinking maverick Hunt, memorably played by Philip Glenister in the original and reprised in Ashes to Ashes, is taken by Colm Meaney, best known for The Commitments and The Van and as Chief Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A trailer on the internet shows Hunt welcoming his new recruit with a punch in the stomach.
The LAPD setting may have been purely expedient, as most of America's TV production industry is based in or near Hollywood. But a crime-ridden New York may strike more of a chord with audiences familiar with gritty Seventies movies set there such as The French Connection, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and The Warriors. Life on Mars's move has also been eased by New York state's recent decision to treble the tax credit for film and television productions shooting there. A source close to the programme said many of the parts would also be recast, although O'Mara's position is not believed to be under threat.
David E Kelley, the writer-producer responsible for hits including Ally McBeal and Boston Legal, secured the rights for Life on Mars and wrote the pilot screenplay, but has now walked away. Kelley, who is married to the actress Michelle Pfeiffer, declined to comment last week. The remaining producers now face a race against time to complete what is ABC's only new drama of the season.
The Bafta-winning British series already has a cult following in the US after being shown on BBC America. Matthew Graham, its co-creator, said of the US version: 'It's been an incredibly convoluted journey. They took on a big job and there were different opinions on where to go. It's been a tortuous process.'
He and his fellow writers have had little input apart from a two-hour meeting with Kelley. 'At the time we thought he took what we said on board, but I don't think he did in the end,' Graham said. 'I think they should go further away from us; otherwise the danger is you look like an imitation.'
Equally unclear is how American English will translate some of Hunt's most memorable one-liners: 'Don't move, you are surrounded by armed bastards!'
Reading the first sentence, I thought this was going to be about Top Gear USA also being announced today.