Oh, the tragedy of the great British TV series, pure and original and beautifully executed — and then adapted into something completely different and strange for American consumption. Well, I say it’s a tragedy, and it is — but sometimes it leads to hilarity.
Frank, today I am not going to tell you about the very very good BBC drama Life on Mars (or its 80s-set sequel, Ashes to Ashes), in which a cerebral police detective from the 21st century finds himself inexplicably thrust backwards in time, and is forced to deal with the rough-and-tumble nature of police work in the 1970s (as well as the fashion and lack of iPhones). You should watch it yourself if you get a chance, because if you do you will get to meet Gene Hunt, the chief detective of Sam’s new 1970s precinct, one of modern television’s great alpha male characters and a perennial delight.
Instead, Frank, we’re talking about the American remake of the show, for a very specific reason. See, the central mystery of the British series is the question of what has really happened to Detective Sam Tyler — per the opening credits, is he in a coma, going crazy or traveling through time? The series slowly but confidently reveals the truth over two seasons, and then Ashes to Ashes continues things by asking the question of who Gene Hunt really is, and that takes THREE seasons, but you better believe it was a deeply satisfying conclusion.
Meanwhile, what happened with the American Life on Mars was as follows: Show premieres, fails to really grab an audience despite starring Harvey Keitel and Christopher from The Sopranos, slowly starts to circle the drain. However, ABC did a relatively decent thing, and gave the showrunners a big heads-up that there would be no season two, which gave them permission to end the story in season one.
That alone would be interesting, but several months ago, I got accidentally spoiled for what that ending entailed and HOLY SHIT, FRANK, IT WAS THE CRAZIEST SHIT I EVER HEARD. Read the rest of this entry