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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

the American ‘Life on Mars’ is not dead yet

My brother sent me a photo from his phone Monday night:

Apparently the destined-to-be-dreadful American remake of maybe-the-best-TV-show-ever Life on Mars will be shooting in his Astoria (Queens) neighborhood this morning. Yeah, the show is now set in New York City — it had originally been set in Cincinnati, I think. Or was it Pittsburgh? It definitely was not New York.

I thought we’d dodged that bullet (this should have killed the show for good). It seems the gun’s been reloaded.

Life on Mars — *gulp* — debuts on ABC on Thursday, October 9, at 10pm Eastern.



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  • Apparently it’s been fairly thoroughly recast. I still don’t expect it to be any good, but they seem to be putting some actual effort into it.

    (For the relocation, I suspect this may be because NY(2008) is simply less different from NY(1970s) than the equivalent in LA. Not to mention that a 70s cop show should be in New York.)

    I smell desperation, even so.

  • Agreed, the casting of Harvey Keitel, Gretchen Mol and Lisa Bonet shows that they’re at least trying. But then you read stuff like this in the ABC online synopsis:

    “At home in Sam’s apartment building in the East Village, there’s Windy, a free-spirited, post-hippie chick who can teach Sam a thing or two about the cultural revolution taking place in front of his unbelieving eyes.”

    So, is she, like, the new Nelson?

  • t6

    It was set in LA.

    And I number of cop things from the 70s were set in LA. Cleopatra Jones, Sweetback.

    I would have enjoyed seeing Life on Mars dealing with the complications of 1970s Los Angeles. If they were going to do it well. Which it looks like they weren’t.

    Ah Well. I still have hopes it’ll turn out okay.

  • S

    Just curious — did he say what street this was posted on/near? You know, since I’ll be taking a walk later anyway…

  • hauke

    I don’t really have any thoughts on the American remake, but at least it introduced me, by way of your post, to the original.
    Having checked out the first two episodes today, i have to say, thanks to you for that!

  • Ken

    Film trucks were parked this morning on the block between 30th Ave. and 30th Dr. on 30th St. (Yes, you read that correctly—I don’t think they were all that big on planning when naming streets in Queens.)

    Basically they’re right around the Greek Cathedral that you see from the N/W.

  • Deanne

    I saw those signs last night and thought of this site! I’m one of those who checked out (and fell in love with) the original series after reading about it here.

    I live around the corner from where they’re filming today. I took a walk a little while ago but the weather is nasty. Looks like they’re concentrated around the Greek school, like Ken mentioned. I saw the usual array of trucks, and an actor who may have been Jonathan Murphy getting into wardrobe on 30th Ave., but that was really it.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    New York makes a bit more sense than LA because New York seems to have changed more in the past three decades than LA. You need a city that’s changed a great deal for the premise to carry any weight. (Disclaimer – I was not born in the 70s and I have not visited either city, but everything I’ve seen or heard about these two cities has helped me form this conclusion)

    I’m most worried about the casting of the lead. I mean, Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt is great, and I like Gretchen Mol too, but that guy… I can’t even remember his name, I just saw him in the leaked trailer and thought “No. No, no, no. Sam Tyler is not beefcake.”

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