Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More "Life On Mars"

Two promo videos: a two-minute trailer, and a two-minute scene from the first episode.

Notable things:

(1) Some dialog and shots are recreated from the BBC series. So it sounds like (at least for the first episode) they're sticking relatively close to the source material without falling into the "Coupling" trap (i.e., re-shooting the British scripts without any adaptation). The sideways shots of Sam lying in the street appeared in the opening credits of every episode of the BBC series, so those shots are almost iconic, in a way, if you know the original.

(2) Is it possible that Glenn Fletcher has been inserted into the first episode? That would be good foreshadowing for a later episode. (In the BBC series, this character shows up in the second episode of Series 2 as someone Sam knows in the present day and also runs into in 1973). It sounds like he says, "Ready, Glenn?" just before they knock down the apartment door.
(No, I don't remember all the characters' names, I went and looked up the Glenn Fletcher episode on the BBC site. Really, honestly, I'm not a total fanboy, I'm just an anal-retentive accountant with what I like to think of as "a reasonable memory for details.")

(3) I notice one "Wizard of Oz" reference in the trailer. The BBC series was full of such references (not the least of which was Gene Hunt repeatedly calling Sam, "Dorothy").

Through the magic of YouTube, for comparison, here's
a clip from the BBC series containing the "Don't ever waltz into my kingdom acting King of the Jungle" scene, mirrored briefly in the trailer:

So here are my humble predictions and recommendations:

If the fine folks at ABC have done their jobs right, (i.e., if they've found the right mix of replication of and adaptation of the original series), then people who are not familiar with the BBC series will get hooked. People who have seen the original will almost certainly draw comparisons to the original (and, when the scripts are so similar, it's almost impossible not to do so).
I kind of hope that Jason O'Mara and Harvey Keitel (and their interpretations of their characters) are different enough from John Simm and Philip Glenister that direct comparisons become difficult or meaningless.

I believe that the real point at which this series either fails miserably or succeeds wildly is the moment when they start to diverge from the BBC series. As long as they're adapting other people's writing, they're constricted and constrained, so the real test is when they have the opportunity to create new material that flows naturally from the same source.

But the series needs to last long enough to reach that point -- that is, if no one watches early on, then the show will be canceled after only a few episodes. So I will be watching Thursday night in hopes that the show gets the chance to prove itself on its own terms rather than as an adaptation or remake.

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