Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling Like You're On Another Planet...

They say there's nothing new under the sun anymore... Everything's a derivative of something else. From conceptual to realization, the idea generators that be tend to either 'remake' foreign series for an American audience or 'smashgenre' (mish-mashing various genre types together)... In the world of television, you've seen it in everything from Australia's 'Kathy and Kate' ( Dud) to the BBC's 'The Office' (Hit), to this interesting little remake whose original series sparked the imagination...

The two versions were written similarly, both with great casts and an even greater premise:
In 2008, Police detective Sam Tyler (UK's John Simm/USA's Jason O'Mara) is struck by a car, only to awaken back in time as a police detective in 1973. Stunned and bewildered, Sam continues his police work under the command of Gene Hunt (UK's Philip Glenister/USA's Harvey Keitel), trying to figure out why he's stuck in time, and more importantly, if what he sees and feels as real IS real. The real kicker of the series is keeping the audience guessing whether Sam's gone mad, he's in a coma (both of which living inside his own head), or actually back in time.

Each episode offered clues to what could be (seeing lost souls, hospital 'progress reports' on Sam's condition bleeding in through radio and TV broadcasts, the odd character suffering from the same 'lost in time' condition, and let's not forget about the little spaceships... Yeah, you heard me right...), making for an interesting mix of sci-fi and police procedural. I found the BBC version to be incredibly thought-provoking as Sam figured out what happens, going back to present day, yet longing to get back to 1973 (To which, Sam jumped off a building to solve that problem). The American version was slightly different, where Sam learns the answer by 'waking up' to realize that he's 'living' the David Bowie song... (The series writers of the American version were hard pressed to come up with a series finale that could actually make sense seeing as how the network pushed the series producers to rush the end due to poor ratings)

If you haven't seen either series, PLANET GRIFFIN recommends you give them a try--- the BBC series is vastly superior to its American counterpart, sad to say, but then, a radical idea must have an equally radical pair of balls to realize it. (The moral of the story, folks) The American cut, recently released on DVD, is still worth viewing (only the crappy ending kills it, everything else is actually pretty cool). In addition to radical ideas, the BBC gave it another go in a sequel series in which a future female detective awakens in the 80's (at least she was spared the era of The Mary Whitehouse Experience), struggling to find her way back while investigating a serial murder spree.

No comments: