On Remakes and Off Tangent

I have to confess that my first reaction to reading the recent news about OCN remaking Life on Mars was a horrified “NO WAY!!” Let’s be real here, Korea’s track record with remakes is pretty awful. I don’t want them anywhere near this show. And it’s the Overly Cruel Network to boot. Ottokke!

Life on Mars is one of my all time fave western shows. It wasn’t perfect by any means and they rather dropped the ball at the S2 ending but I loved it to bits and have rewatched it several times. It has one of the best OSTs too, so good! Yeah, I own the DVD boxsets, companion books and wrote miles about it. I was pretty active in the fandom too, something that doesn’t happen very often. I even took part in the TRA (LoM fandom forum, The Railway Arms) meet-up in Manchester. Which was all kinds of fun btw. We got mentioned in the local newspaper, ha. 😀 It’s been more than 10 years but I still look back on those days with real fondness. It was a rather uniq experience, for me anyway. The fandom was active, friendly, rather homey and never very big – I liked that. It was also nice how some of the people involved in the production took time to interact with us. E.g Dean Andrews who played DS Ray Carling sometimes posted tidbits on the forum.

LoM had a great cast, John Simm and Phil Glenster were especially good, so anyone who takes on the roles of Sam and Gene Genie will have rather big shoes to fill in. Of course it is always possible that OCN manages not to botch up the story but I’m not holding my breath. We’ll see, I guess.

LoM Cortina

Yup, that’s the actual car from the series. It had almost as many fans as the characters, LOL!

7 thoughts on “On Remakes and Off Tangent

  1. I agree that there are certain things that just cannot be transplanted and should be left well alone. However, korea’s conceit is that everything can be transplanted to a korean context, sometimes with a “creative” spin to things, even if it misses the point, the casting sucks and the end result is shitty. And there are enough fans to feed that conceit, so this will just continue.

    The sad thing about k-remakes is that fans who watch and like those (first) don’t bother with the originals, or they think the remake is better (most times it’s not) and sometimes just flat out diss the original.

    • I was rather shocked how strongly I felt about this. I had no connection to the originals of the other k-remakes, so it was neither here not there with them. This is the first time they decided to take on a show I loved. I rather wish they hadn’t…

      • For me, it’s got to the stage where even if I don’t feel strongly about the original, I feel offended that it is unfortunate enough to get a k-remake, because a k-remake (especially of a J-drama) tells me korea is arrogant enough to think it can do the original better than the source country. Then it lies that it is not remaking off the Japanese adaptation already available and instead adapting from the source manga/novel etc. Pisses me off big time.

        There are apparently American, Spanish and Czech adaptations of Life on Mars, have you seen them?

        • I did watch the pilot of the American adaptation and just rolled my eyes at how useless it was. Apparently it bombed. Haven’t seen the others, I actually didn’t even know about them before this k-version came about.

          I’ve often wondered the need for an adaptation. If the original is good, why not just run that? Remakes on the whole don’t bring anything new to the table. Unless it something like SciFi where advances in the tech may play a role.

          • Sometimes it could be licensing issues, or possibly the original might not fit too well with local tastes, so they make an adaptation that would suit better (or so they think). Or they think the material in the original is worth transplanting to a local context (Japan did this for Cold Case. The Office also has spawned a number of adaptations, enough to have an international Office franchise). Sometimes, people just can’t deal with a foreign production (for example, they can’t relate to the humour or issues) and must see it in a local context (or the context they prefer).

            Half the time, it’s probably dominance and arrogance, that they think they can one-up the original. korea does this a lot, and I believe so does the US.

            Saw a comment recently by a poster that said she definitely wanted to see Zettai Kareshi as a k-remake, even though she knows korea fucks up a lot of remakes. So some people just want a korean version of everything, maybe because that’s the only channel that speaks to them.

          • All of the reasons you stated sound quite plausable. Though I still feel that some stories should be left well alone. 🙂

            I think the success of an adaptation is tied to how well the premise can be tweaked to suite the new environment. E.g The Office works because the basic concept is the office setting, which is pretty similar world over. The same goes for most procedurals. Japan did really well with Cold Case and made it their own while still keeping the framework of the original.

            Life on Mars may have themes that are universal but it’s also quite culture and location based, imho. It’s very distinctly set in Manchester/Northern England and Sam and Gene as characters are very British in essence. That’s something you just can’t transplant without loosing something essential of the show’s charm. John Simm and Phil Glenister made the roles their own and I really can’t see anyone else taking over. Rather than a remake or an adaptation they should just make a drama losely based on LoM and spin it in a way that makes sense in a Korean setting. I’m just not very confident OCN is up to doing a decent job even with that.

            I’ve also seen the K-version being toted as a ‘time travel’ story, which is rather missing the point. One of the key elements of the show was the ambiguity of why/how Sam ended up in the past. Is he mad, in coma or truly in the past?

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