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October 9, 2015

David Kelley may bail on Life on Mars

by Allison Waldman, posted May 7th 2008 9:25AM
Life on MarsI don't know if this is good news or bad... David E. Kelley may be checking out of Life on Mars, the ABC pilot based on the hit BBC crime/time travel drama. According to Variety, the prolific Mr. Kelley -- Boston Legal, L.A. Law, Picket Fences, Ally MacBeal, The Practice, Chicago Hope, etc. -- is unhappy with the financial arrangements and if things aren't worked out, he's going to move on.

Life on Mars was a terrific show. The UK version has played on BBC America, starring John Simm and Philip Glenister. Following the British model, the series lasted just two years -- 16 episodes total. In the ABC pilot, which Thomas Schlamme directed, Jason O'Mara (Men in Trees) is playing Simm's role, Sam; Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Gene. Kelley wrote the American variation on the story of Sam Tyler, a police detective in present day who awakens from a car crash to find he's living in 1973. Has he really gone back in time or is it all in his head?

The reason I'm wondering about the good news/bad news scenario is this: with David E. Kelley involved, Life on Mars has a really good chance of making it into the fall lineup. He has a proven track record and the network would trust him to develop the project successfully. And I want to see an American version of Life on Mars!

On the other hand, as much as I like Kelley, Life on Mars doesn't seem like his thing. My concern is that he'll take what's really great about the original British show -- the fish out of water stuff, the politically incorrect style of police work in the early 1970's, the love/hate relationship between Sam and Gene -- and give it the David Kelley spin. That spin is great on legal and medical dramas, but Life on Mars is more gritty and has a sci-fi vibe as well. It might be better with a different writer attached. I'll be curious to see if the pilot is picked up as filmed, especially if Kelley takes a powder. A new headwriter might mean a second pilot. That's not unheard of. Time will tell.

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Kelley can do anything.

May 07 2008 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the great thing about british tv shows is they don't feel the need to go on and on season after season (though some do) - they tell the story, then move on to something else.

May 07 2008 at 6:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who said he's writing it? Maybe he's just producing it...
Great show and I would like to see a remake of it.

May 07 2008 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank Kittens and Puppies! The orginal was so good that I can not imagine how bad a US remake would be!

May 07 2008 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i have some reservations about the remake. one of them was that they chose LA as the locale. personally, i think a place like pittsburgh would have been a bit more suitable to the originals manchester locale.

May 07 2008 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How can there be an American version of a show that only lasted 16 episodes? The first season will be 22 episodes, and then if it's a hit it will be dragged out for years and most likely canceled before the audience can get a real ending.

May 07 2008 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Oreo's comment
Jeremy Kenyon

The Office (UK) was about the same length. They've done pretty well with the American version...

May 07 2008 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't see a need for a direct remake of the show. I loved the original when it ran on BBC America. Why can't they take the concept of the show and redo it that way? different characters, different locations, different time. from what i can tell all that's changing is the its set in America and one year later. if they want it the same why not just show the original here. it would save time and money.

May 07 2008 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if this means it wont air then that sucks. if it means someone who isn't a douchebag is at the helm AND it airs, hazaa!

life in mars was great. i almost hope they dont make an american version. even though i hope they do make the IT crowd, 6 episodes a season isn't working for me.

May 07 2008 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As with all of these translated remakes, I worry it'll simply pale in comparision to the original, but I still want it to be made. There's always the chance, however slim, that it'll be really good. I'd rather take a chance on another version of LOM than have none at all. Besides, I think Colm Meaney will make a great Gene Hunt even though NOBODY can do it better than Philip Glenister. He is Gene Hunt!

May 07 2008 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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