American remake of “Life on Mars” recasting completed.

Life on Mars US

Original US' Life on Mars Cast: Lenny Clarke, Jason O'Mara, Rachel Lefevre and Colm Meaney.

As entertainment news sources reported in the last couple of weeks Gretchen Mol is the new Annie, and Harvey Keitel is the new Gene Hunt.
The picture you find as the startup from this post is a promo pic featuring the original people cast in those roles.
After having watched the original version of the pilot episode for the US remake, I had a strong point for really being bothered by what was done, and as you’ll see below, when I reproduce segments from a review I sent my friends a while ago, and an excerpt from a relevant Whedonesque post.

This is what I said about the original pilot episode:

Well, now as someone who did watch the first version for the US remake pilot, definitely the most noticeable element lacking in the show is the cast, which lacked the personality that the Original one had. And the first episode, was mostly an almost identical reshoot of the original first episode of the UK, version, only set in Boston, and with other people playing those same characters. I don’t think they even bothered changing the names, like The Office did. I’m so glad they’re recasting, but still something is missing. And I shouldn’t even mention that what bothered me the most, is the unavoidable fact, that despite Jason O’Mara’s (who happens to be another european import) strong presence, he just ain’t John Simm.

Will the recasting, save the US’ Life on Mars? Don’t know. I’m curious about the recasting and the new pilot. Whether they’ll still keep the script that David Kelley worked on, or they’ll change more things (names could be changed, I’d feel so much more comfortable if Jason wasn’t playing Sam Tyler). Though, there’s a lot more in a tv show, than just the cast, the writing and producing team behind it, must also be taken into account. Guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

I went further, when I shared my views of it with a few friends, as I gave details about how the pilot, was a pretty close at times to a shot by show re-filming of the first episode from the original series, but the fact that the series has at this point, potentially no endpoint, and if accepted well, might even have a longer first season, that’s longer than both of the British original series combined.

Anyway, after reading about those recasting news, I finally realized what’s really bothering me about this remake. They’re only changing the setting from Europe to America, but they’re sticking with the names, who are so intimately linked with the original cast who gave birth to them. Yes, the new showrunners, are saying that they’re going to develop another storyline, or at least develop it in a different way, so the ending result will be somewhat disparate from the source material.

But as they’re doing that, why keep the names? Why not change them, even if it means the most silly change (life Tim to Jim from the UK Office to the US Office), even if the archetypal character is still the same. It does get them even more leeway to play with the characters, as their only come from the same root, so they could change and develop them anyway they want, without being compared all the time with the original show’s characters, especially for the most iconic ones, like Sam or Gene.

LIfe on Mars

Original "Life on Mars" Cast pic: Marshall Lancaster, Phillip Glenister, John Simm, Dean Andrews and Liz White.

Another thing that bothers me from the non changing name situation, It’s the fact that most of the characters from the original show aren’t gone, as most of them continue to live on in the sequel for “Life of Mars”, “Ashes to Ashes”.

Ashes to Ashes

"Ashes to Ashes" Cast Pic: Marshall Lancaster, Phillip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and Dean Andrews.

I’m curious if the new cast will have any effect to the remake, but I’m in one of those rare occasions, that I’m actually hoping that the show will fail. Let’s wait and see…

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2 Responses

  1. In response the hope this show will fail, as a die-hard american fan of the BBC version (yes, if you get BBC America and saw the final season, this remake is pure blasphemy) I’m going to hold out a little hope that Gretchen Mol and Harvey Keitel and the rest of the actors cast will breath life into it. I think the biggest failure about the first pilot was actually David E. Kelley. If you have seen Jason O’Mara on “The Closer” He has range, when he feels like it (or he’s only good at playing psychopaths)
    Anyway, barring that slim hope, I say to you (in response to hoping it will fail):
    Don’t we all, J, Don’t we all.

  2. I know that O’Mara has range, as pointed what really bothers me is that Sam Tyler is so deeply tied to Simm’s, it would be a lot better if they just changed names.
    Of course, even with a name change, they could be basically be the same character, and they would be compared with each other, and as the writers and the actor developed the character later, on they could be a lot more independent.
    Jason, definitely deserves a lot more, than filing under another great actors shadow.

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