It’s Monday, and I’m busy. But since a few of you have asked, I thought I’d let you know which new TV shows I’m watching so far this season (True Blood, Life On Mars, and Sanctuary), and see what you think of them. And while you’re at it, if there are any new shows you’re watching that you’re excited about, be sure to let me know!
So far, this new HBO series by Alan Ball about “outed” vampires has, for me, really lived up to the summer’s worth of hype. Anna Paquin is acting the hell out of it, pretty much as you’d expect. And confining the plot to a small town in New Orleans has succeeded in keeping the premise from being as trite as I originally feared it might be. Based on the buzz, I thought this series could end up being a trite “statement” show — using vampires as a metaphor for homophobia and racism in America. Which on some level it is, and that’s fine. As long as it doesn’t ever overplay that hand.
As it turns out, while we do get glimpses of the political and spiritual ramifications of “mainstream” vampires in the outside world now and then, for the most part, this series is less about “vampires as a metaphor” than it is “Northern Exposure Meets Anne Rice”. The mixture of odd, passionate, and oddly passionate characters — both living and undead — creates a spicy jambalaya (yes, I went there) that really keeps you on your toes. In many cases, the humans are freakier than the vampires, especially in the bedroom … and this I’m sure is part of the overall statement Alan Ball is trying to make.
I’d be curious to hear if anybody has read the books this series is based on, and if so, how it holds up to the printed version.
Life On Mars
I’ll confess right up front: I have not seen the original UK version of this show. But I’ve heard it’s awesome. And I do intend to watch it if/when it’s available on DVD and/or if/when I’m ever able to find out that BBC America is rerunning it in time for me to actually TiVo it. So far, no luck.
Having said that, all I have to judge from is the American version, which premiered this past week. And the fact is, I really enjoyed it. Everybody knows I have a fondness for time travel premises, and while I suspect that this series will be even more fuzzy about the logic of “how” than Journeyman was, I already like the way the show carries itself. Which is ultimately more important to me than whether or not the physics all jive anyway.
What’s curious to me that it looks as if, with the exception of the guy who plays Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara), they’ve completely recast this series since the original pilot. I remembered seeing commercials with Colm Meaney in them, and thought I was going crazy until I did some research and saw that they’d recast Harvey Keitel in that role, and added Gretchen Mol to the mix. And as far as I can tell, they completely changed the tone of the show as well. Don’t believe me? Check out the original trailer for yourself.
This is one I’m still on the fence about. As a Stargate fan, I can’t also help but be an Amanda Tapping fan, so I’m giving it a chance. Interestingly enough, this show actually started its life as a Web-only production, and become so popular that SciFi bought the rights and commissioned 13 episodes. The 2-hour pilot is actually the first 4 webisodes lumped together.
Also interesting is that the entire series is filmed using green screen technology and limited props — no location shots or background sets. And you really can’t tell. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself, and all the moreso when you consider that it’s actually cost-effective enough for a TV show to pull this off these days.
As for the show itself … it’s an interesting premise. Part X-Files, part Highlander, part Buffy, part … you get the idea. Which is why I’m still on the fence yet. The first few episodes have been enjoyable enough, but so far, I’m still not feeling the “heart” of the show. Its own internal mythology hasn’t been built up enough yet, and the characters seem a bit detached from each other. As if the series started to run before it could walk. Or as if — like Stargate — it was a well-made TV adaptation of a movie … but in this case, there never was a movie. However, I suspect this could resolve itself over time, so I’ll stick with it a while longer before I make my decision.
Jeez, they REALLY re-cast Life on Mars. I had no idea! Even the little kid was different, right?
I know, right??? I did a little more research, and found this …
So … apparently, this is a pre-Strike project for which the actors weren’t the only thing to change since the original pilot was filmed. The setting changed from Los Angeles to New York, David E. Kelley got sidelined, and the script was completely rewritten. Sounds like Kelley made the mistake of sticking too close to the script for the UK series, and too much of the tone got lost in translation. The pilot was largely panned by early reviewers. So ABC went back to the drawing board, re-imagined the pilot with a new setting, new actors, and a more “American” tone, and as a result, it scored the highest debut ratings of any show so far this fall …
Oh Geekboy! They totally had a marathon of the original Life on Mars two weekends ago! I watched this new take and it’s ok but it really has NOTHING on the original. Harvey Keitel is totally wrong for the part, especially against such a big guy like O’Mara. I hear the pilot of the original ABC cast is out there but I haven’t seen it. Colm Meaney would have been a better look for Gene at least.
It’s funny, I half expected the characters to start talking in British accents while I was watching. I might not continue on this new one after a while because so far it’s an exact copy of the British version, so it’s sorta just like watching the same episode. And if I’m gonna do that I’d rather re-watch the British. Do yourself a favor and snag that as soon as you can.
I was interested in True Blood but I don’t have HBO anymore. Are they aired online anywhere?
Yeah, I figured I probably just missed it. I’m surprised BBC America isn’t just replaying “Life On Mars” over and over, to feed off the hype the new show is getting. Something to consider with the American version is that even though it might look like a copy now, it can’t possibly sustain that, just because of the differences in UK/US programming. In the UK, the series ran a total of 16 episodes over two seasons. But I’m sure ABC plans to make this a standard series with 20+ episodes EACH season. Which means the writers will have to come up with a way to do that … which may be better or worse than the original version, but will definitely be different.
I’m not aware of True Blood being replayed online anywhere … at least not by any legal means. I guessing that would probably defeat the purpose for HBO. Although I’m surprised they haven’t tried to partner up with iTunes or something by now.