Friday, July 04, 2008

So Close and Yet So Far

So, you're the production team parachuted in to save the American Life on Mars, scrambling desperately to turn its laughable pilot into something watchable.  You've just landed The Sopranos's Michael Imperioli.  Who do you cast him as?  Imperioli is not really the right physical type for Gene, but with a little tweaking of the character he might work, and he could certainly pull off the combination of vulnerability, toughness and intelligence that made John Simm's Sam so winning, not to mention the character's working class background.  But no, apparently if you're producing the new Life on Mars and have been lucky enough to cast Michael Imperioli, you cast him as Ray.  I can hear the Italian stereotypes from here.

This is yet another dispiriting choice on the part of the new production team, like the one to move the show's setting from LA (admittedly an awful decision) to New York.  One of the things that made the original Life on Mars special was that it wasn't set in London but in Manchester, a working class, industrial town going through major upheavals but still possessed of a distinct character which is deeply important to its inhabitants.  There any number of cities like this in the US, but the new production team doesn't seem to be interested in telling that kind of story, and instead have plumped for yet another cop show set in New York. 


Dotan Dimet said...

Christafah certainly could have been a John Simm equivalent. Simm did such good work on LoM that it's hard to remember almost how much of an anti-action-hero figure he was when one first saw the show.
Speaking of Life on Mars derived projects, did you post anything about Ashes to Ashes? I just finished watching the first season and thought it deserved more than the "John Simm's not in it" dismissal, but I'm also pretty sure that Keeley Hawes' character poses a car-bomb of complaints to defuse. That was actually part of my enjoyment of the series, the much less instantly-likable but maybe more complex protagonist.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

I haven't written anything about Ashes to Ashes here, which already tells you a lot about my reaction to the show - not good enough to praise, not bad enough to excoriate. My main problem with it isn't actually the absence of John Simm, but that the show seems to be such a complete retread of Life on Mars - in its premise, in its themes, in the places it takes its characters, and most especially in its overarching season-long mystery and its solution - that I just couldn't see the point of it, especially given that the main mystery driving Life on Mars has already been resolved.

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