Red Right Hand: "IT'S ON AMERICA'S TORTURED BROW..."
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

"IT'S ON AMERICA'S TORTURED BROW..."

In short, I am fucking pleased with the first episode of Life on Mars (US). After David E. Kelly's first version that was so faithful to the original that it essentially was a somnambulation through the original UK version, and as such came across fairly lifeless. Appelbaum and friends have found the perfect balance between the original and one that has it's own identity and it quickly established that it will not just be taking the UK show's gimmick to tell crime stories, but can actually speak to American viewers in the same way the the Kudos version can speak to UK viewers. And they did it in no uncertain terms...or images.



It still used the original version's pilot as a hard baseline. Still a lot of the same scenes, and a lot of the same lines with sometimes just an added in throwaway to make it "ours." I think they work. Here's the script if you want to compare, though I'm sure you can "acquire" it if you think about it for .0534 seconds. A while back I got the region 2 DVDs, but if this show does well, maybe they'll take a new look at clearing the copious amount of music and get an R1 release.

The primary variation comes in the approach to Sam's dilemma. The original was bathed in ambiguity and in it's two year, 16 ep run, never put any amount f certainty as to whether Sam was really in '73 or in a coma. A full first season here will already go way past the UK versions limited run, and with any US series looking to get four-to-seven years out of it, you're going to have to spin it different and look at providing some answers here and there anyway, or else run the danger of getting Laura Palmer Syndrome.

Where this version diverges most from the UK and original US pilot is ditching the part where Annie's boyfriend nearly psychobabbles Sam into killing himself. A scene that totally failed in the US version. It new scene is, well, I'll not spell it out in case you haven't seen it yet, and the details are irrelevant to the point that it sets the stage to proceed at its own pace and doesn't commit to any reasoning for Sam's condition and will allow for a greater eventual divergence from the original.

In numbers, the show came in strong with an 8.2/14 in the overnights and it held four/fifths of the Grey's audience, so...fuck, yeah. For the night, ABC saw no significant change over a year ago, so good news there as many other nights for the network have seen big drops.

This could be really, really, specable. I so want to.*

At the exact same time, the same thing is unfolding on CBS. Eleventh Hour. It's the crime-procedural non-weird Fringe...not accurate, but...it's weird science for a more conservative mindset. It's based on the UK version pilot, and while it echoes many scenes, it's more of a rewrite. Most importantly, I think it benefits most from being 42 minutes of show and not 90. The original was too slow for me. Still, prefer Patrick Stewart over Rufus Sewell.

It also had a cool trick (non-story, non-writing) coming out of the teaser. Watch it, you'll see what I mean

*Yeah, could all fall apart real fast too. We'll see how the coming weeks shake out. And, of course, if no one is watching, then it's all moot.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan