Life On Mars Remake Faces More Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s quite common for series producers to replace actors after shooting a pilot and getting feedback. And, often, those changes result in a good show – see ABC’s Brothers and Sisters. However, it’s much rarer for the whole cast to be fired, which is what has happened with ABC’s remake of Life On Mars. Well, almost the whole cast. They are apparently keeping star Jason O’Mara, despite lukewarm initial reviews of his performance as Sam Tyler. And, as TV Scoop reports, they are “expanding” the original series’ “mythology.” Executive producer Josh Applebaum says,

“We spoke to the creators of the BBC version and asked their permission to change the mythology. In their version, ultimately he was in a coma, and for us to do a long-running series where you know he’s in this coma state, it felt unsatisfying. With their permission we are changing the mythology each week, deepening the mystery of what’s going on with him. Has he traveled through time? Or lost his mind? Or he’s in a coma? For us there are many more options there.”

The more I hear about this, the more boneheaded this remake seems. The original Life On Mars was satisfying because you saw the end coming, and the tension built towards the inevitable climax. The attempt to shoehorn the series into an 22-episode, multiple-season American format will dilute the impact of the story. (Then again, I’m one of those people who gave up on the similarly themed Lost, which apparently is still going strong.)

Sopranos star Michael Imperioli is clearly confident that the remake will be successful. He recently spoke to the New York Daily News about why he chose this project to follow up his Emmy-winning Sopranos stint: “I thought the script was very well written, first of all, and a really cool idea. And I thought he’s different enough from what I had done in the past, although it seems to be most of the stuff I’ve been doing is either a cop or a robber.”

Note: Imperioli will play copper Ray Carling. October Road actor Jonathan Murphy will play Carling’s partner, Chris Skelton. Check him out on IMDB: he kind of resembles Marshall Lancaster, who played Chris on the original series.

In other news:

  • David Tennant is “close to signing a deal worth £1.5 million ($3 million)” to stay on as Timelord for a fifth season.(Daily Mail)
  • Billie Piper‘s ex, radio personality Chris Evans, is having a baby with his current wife, Natasha Shishmanian.(BBC)
  • Tapes containing material from the late Delia Derbyshire, composer of the Doctor Who theme and inspiration to a generation of electronica artists, have been discovered.(The Times)
  • Could Catherine Tate be Daniel Radcliffe‘s perfect romantic match? Metro‘s Andrew Williams says, “They’re both so desperate to be taken seriously as proper actors, they’ve resorted to flaunting their bits and bobs on the West End stage – first Dan in Equus, now Cath about to do the same in a forthcoming romantic comedy. They should team up! Dan reportedly had a flirtation with a Harry Potter make-up woman so he’s undeterred by older women. They could lounge around naked reading Brecht to each other. It’d be hours of fun!”
  • She puts the “sex” in sexagenarian: the totally GMILF-tastic Helen Mirren shows off her bodacious, 62-year-old body in a bikini. The rack is incredible. BTW, there’s a NSFW nipple shot midway on the page. Scroll at your own risk!(Daily Mail)
  • The Sun celebrates the multiple British Emmy nominees.
  • What’s the state of the British sketch comedy? The Guardian‘s Gareth McLean – who, by the way, is totally hot clean-shaven (call me on Skype, Gareth!) – quite likes That Mitchell and Webb Look, but he wonders if, with “character-based comedy in the ascendant, thanks to the success of Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, and The League of Gentlemen… could it be that the sketch show has, for the time being, had its moment?”
  • UK TV networks are failing to show Britain’s diversity, a study claims. “Most white viewers said that broadcasters were doing a good job, but black and Asian ethnic groups did not agree. The report also found that Eastern Europeans, as relative newcomers to Britain, had no expectations of being represented.”(The Times)
  • The guy who wrote Control is writing a John Lennon biopic entitled Nowhere Boy.(NME)
  • Pete Doherty has skipped court, and, consequently, has a warrant out for his arrest.(NME)
  • The Daily Mail says Ronnie Wood‘s Russian waitress girlfriend, Ekaterina Ivanova, is a dead ringer for Wood’s wife, Jo. I see a resemblance in the first set of photos but not in the second set.
  • Sienna Miller is moving in with Brothers and Sisters star Balthazar Getty, who is, um, married? Hello!(Mirror)
  • BBC viewers in Wales want to see more Welsh programming.(BBC)
  • Should the word “chav” – which is slang for “a lower-class younger person who wears designer sportswear” – be banned from use? A British think tank says yes: “Some uses of some words fall below the threshold of acceptability and some are definitely above it,” says Tom Hampson, head of the Fabian Society, in an interview with the BBC. “Chav is way above that threshold. It is deeply offensive to a largely voiceless group and – especially when used in normal middle-class conversation or on national TV – it betrays a deep and revealing level of class hatred.” In recent years, the “chav” has become a much-parodied social type in UK pop culture. The Catherine Tate Show‘s Lauren and Little Britain‘s Vicky Pollard are just a few of the comic characters based on the “chav.”

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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