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Battle for Britain

October 3, 2008

I’ve been on a blog-promotion spree the last few days. Which is about the only specific thing I remember from the last few days. I didn’t have blackout as a result of a drug overdose or blunt force trauma to the head, I just felt as though I was drifting aimlessly through life, bits and pieces of story ideas in my head, no specific goals achieved. I’m glad it’s cooling off so that I can comfortably take my dogs for walks again; nothing clears my head like a good walk. I’d like to take pilates to improve my breathing so I can work my way up to some kind of cardio, but everywhere I look, including the YMCA, it’s expensive. Why does it cost so much when there’s no equipment involved?

I also just purchased my ticket to the Pushing Daisies Writers Panel. Having forgotten that tickets went on sale a few weeks ago, it looks like I’ll be watching from the Closed-Circuit Viewing Room rather than the auditorium. On the plus side, the ticket was a lot cheaper. And I doubt I would have asked any questions during the panel. Hopefully I’ll be able to see Chad and Dara Creasey before or after, to say hello.

This morning I decided to forgo my usual mocha latte, only to reach the office and decide it was too cold and too early to be decaffeinated. Fortunately there’s a Coffee Bean across the street. I went in, paid for my drink – and walked right out without it. I was down the block when I realized my hands were empty. It’s going to be one of those days.

I’m trying to decide what tactic to use on my next TV review round up, which I think is going to become a weekly staple of this blog. I considered haiku, but figured that there’s not a lot of point in writing reviews if people can’t actually read them. My rhyming skills are pretty much limited to “poet” and “know it,” so that’s out. Maybe, with the help of my good friend The Internet, I’ll pick my favorite scene from this week’s episodes and discuss what made it great.

Since it seems that I can’t respond directly to comments, I thought I’d acknowledge the fact that I am reading them, and I appreciate them. I mean, heck, it’s a sign that people are actually reading this thing. And on that note, I want to expound on one of my points from the ABCs: Imports.

My biggest issue with the upcoming Life on Mars (and to a lesser extent, Eleventh Hour), is not that I think the show itself will be necessarily bad, but that I’m frustrated with the lack of originality on the part of the producers. It’s a symptom of a larger problem in Hollywood, the obsession with remakes because of the belief that there are no new ideas – not ones that the public would watch, anyway. At least when old shows get remade, they get modernized, which opens the door for new and different situations, even if the premise is familiar. This show will probably work for all those who’ve never seen the original Life on Mars, a.ka. most of America, so I understand the reasoning behind the adaptation. That still doesn’t explain why the producers are apparently so completely lacking in creativity that they have copied everything from the characters names to their wardrobes. I mean, there’s a fine line between homage and plagiarism.

John Simm says, "WTF?"

John Simm says, WTF?

As far as I can tell from the promos, pictures, and interviews, the only difference between the UK pilot and the American pilot, aside from the setting, is that Sam Tyler’s 21st century girlfriend Maya is black instead of Indian. Oh, and for whatever reason, Annie got a new last name. She’s also blonde.

Here’s what I fail to understand: if you’re going to directly copy the source material, why bother? Most of the recent British imports have failed because the American versions try to imitate rather than emulate. Viva Laughlin, anyone? Its source material, Blackpool (with the amazing David Tennant), was certainly weird, but somehow it worked. You can’t say the same for Hugh Jackman’s attempt. The Office is our greatest success when it comes to transplants, but The Office wasn’t the hit it is now back in season one. In fact, the pilot was, to borrow a Britishism, rubbish. And it was rubbish because it’s a duplicate of the UK pilot. Once the American version found its own footing, captured the spirit of an American office, and stopped trying to use British humor which just doesn’t translate, then it became a smash.

Reality TV imports don’t count because by their nature they’re going to be different. And that’s what the producers should have tried with Life on Mars. Take the premise of a modern cop stuck in the 70s without his usual tools for solving crime, but then put an original spin on it. They’re going to have to come up with new material at some point, since the original only had 16 episodes. Part of the reason there were only 16 was that there was only so long they could stretch the question: crazy or coma?

So the question for me is, can I survive the copy long enough to see if it can stand on its own two feet? I guess that depends on how long it takes the producers and writers to realize that 1970s New York was literally and figuratively miles away from where they’re starting. I’ll be sure to give it a proper review when it premieres next week.

Quote of the Day:

(on the success of Life on Mars) “I didn’t think for a minute it was going to be massive. I didn’t even know if it would work. Let’s face it, the premise is ridiculous!” – John Simm, Life on Mars

Link of the Day: Twenty-Something Bloggers – a great networking site for young bloggers

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 17, 2008 8:07 pm

    I agree, these kinds of remakes are annoying. The viewing public deserves something with at least a fraction of originality. I was able to see a few of the British “Life on Mars” episodes, and I really liked the show. But I refuse to see the American one, probably because I have a total crush on John Simm and Manchester and even though the show’s exactly the same, it still wouldn’t be the same, if that makes any sense :-)

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