Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life on Mars coming to ABC this fall

I wrote about the BBC series Life on Mars last February, which followed a policeman named Sam Tyler (played by John Simm) who was pursuing a serial killer in the present day, got hit by a car and found himself in the early 1970's on the very same police force. He doesn't know if what he is experiencing is real, or merely a coma-induced fantasy, so he has to roll with the punches so to speak and try to survive a different era of police work.

The reason I bring the series up again is the rumored American remake has been picked up by ABC for the fall, and I decided to take a look at what elements are coming together for this David E. Kelley production.

The pilot is being directed by Thomas Schlamme, whose previous work was executive producing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and doing a lot of directing for The West Wing.

Looking at the cast, one name really popped out to me. Star Trek and Roddy Doyle adaptation veteran Colm Meaney has been cast as Detective Gene Hunt, and if you were going to get someone to step into the irascible shoes of that character, played by Philip Glenister in the original, well, that is a damn good choice. Meaney brings many of the same qualities to the role

Then there is the female lead, Annie Cartwright, who was played by Liz White in the original series, and Rachel Lefevre in this new iteration. I've seen Ms. Lefevre's work, and while the original version of Annie is still fresh in my memory, I am willing to give her a chance to wow me in this role. However, I do have a caveat. In the BBC series, Annie Cartwright was a pioneer on that police force, a woman who had to overcome barriers to be taken seriously, but I noticed that her character is listed as Detective. That to me tells me that perhaps the gender politics of the ABC version may be a little different than the original. Granted, Los Angeles in 1972 may have been more progressive than Manchester in 1973.

And of course, there is the series star, Jason O'Mara, who I have to say, I am entirely ignorant of his work, so I really can't comment about his potential in the role of Sam Tyler. I will say that I really enjoyed John Simm's portrayal of the character in the original, so O'Mara has some big shoes to fill.

I also think it is sort of funny that the three leads on this show are in fact, not American, but rather two Irishman and a Canadian.

I've also seen that comedian and frequent Denis Leary costar Lenny Clarke is also attached to the project, which I think bodes well for the show. In addition, I read that Kelley had at first tried to get both John Simm and Philip Glenister to reprise their roles for his version of the show, but both actors turned him down due to family or other work-related commitments (as Glenister's Gene Hunt is featured on the LoM spinoff Ashes to Ashes)... which to me seems to indicate that Kelley is indeed interested in keeping the spirit of the original intact.

So I look forward to seeing how it all turns out, and with the cancellation of Journeyman this season, well, there seems to be an opening now for another time travel related show. I hope that not only does it capture the quality of the original, but that a 10 PM Thursday night audience gravitates to it as well.


Arjan said...

I think I will check this out..never saw the original series..but it sounds cool enough.

Bart said...

I'm definitely intrigued.

MC said...

Arjan: The original series was pretty sweet. You should check it out too if you get a chance.

Bart: I think it is worth a shot.