Written by: Samuel K. Sloan (SoSF Producer/Managing News Director)
Looks like the U.S. is going to try out another popular U.K. product on for size and try to make it uniquely its own. In a long line of British programming that gets copied by U.S. networks, this latest foray will be an American remake of the British SF hit show “Life On Mars” which runs on the BBC America cable network. For you trivia buffs, the show got its name from the old David Bowie song of the same title.
Writer/producer David E. Kelley, the creator of such mega hits like “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public” and the multi-Emmy winning “Boston Legal” has decided to take on a product not originally his own and put his unique taste and style to it.
This has been tried many times with the most successful U.K.-to-U.S. transplant being “All In the Family” which made ultra stars out of the likes of Caroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers, who, until that time, were either total unknowns or lesser known character actors from the stage and screen. Kelley is hoping to do for ‘Mars’ what producer Norman Lear did with ‘Family,’ make it another gigantic U.K. adaptation hit for U.S. network television.
There are two things that might hinder him from making that happen. First, “All In the Family” was groundbreaking, touching on subjects which, until that time, had been totally taboo on American television, and secondly, the U.K. version was really, really good and gave Lear a great jumping off point to tantalize American viewers.
The U.K.’s “Life On Mars,” while being pretty decent television is neither groundbreaking or that tantalizing and, unlike the 1970’s, American audiences can already get all the original “Life On Mars” they want from the cable network BBC America, plus Netflix, Blockbuster and DVD sales. So, Kelley has his work cut out for him if he is wanting his “Life On Mars” to be a record-setting new series.
The story of “Life On Mars,” for those who don’t listen to our Slice of Scifi show, (where we have talked about the British show on several occasions) or who have not had the opportunity to see it on cable, is about a detective who finds himself transported back to 1972 after his girlfriend has been kidnapped.
Kelley has signed on Rachelle Lefevre (“What About Brian,” “Veronica Mars”) to play the only main female character in the 1972 police department, who forges a bond with the mysterious detective and teams with him to track down the same serial killer that plagued one of his 21st Century investigations. It looks like young newbieTrevor MacFarlane (who was born in England) may star as detective John Holden, the 21st Century officer who, after a motor vehicle accident, awakens to find himself in an America 30-years in his past. The same character is older and named Sam Tyler on the British series. Actor William Atkinson has also joined the cast. As more valid casting news is made available stay tuned to Slice of SciFi for updates.
This Americanized “Life On Mars” is currently in pre-production and is slated for the upcoming ABC Fall lineup.