NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The co-creator of the BBC’s “Life on Mars” gives high marks to the new version across the pond as being in the same gritty spirit as the British version.
The ABC series stars Jason O’Mara as a New York detective who finds himself back in the 1970s after a car accident. The cast includes Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol.
“I think it’s marvelous,” said co-creator Ashley Pharoah, who was in Manhattan on Monday to pick up the British show’s second International Emmy for best drama. “We’re really very proud of it.”
Pharoah said he understood that the U.S. version was likely to take a different direction from the original.
“They’re changing the mythology, which I think is all right,” Pharoah said. “It has to be different. Otherwise everyone just goes on YouTube and sees how it ends.”
“Some people back home didn’t like the ending,” Pharoah said of the British series’ decidedly downbeat conclusion. That ending accommodated the wishes of actor John Simm, who didn’t want to do more that 16 episodes, but Pharoah noted that it was “the end we had in mind from the beginning.”
U.K. series writer-producer Cameron Roach also doesn’t mind the U.S. version’s changes.
“I think it’s good that it ends in a different way,” Roach said. “It keeps the American audiences guessing.”
Pharoah is also happy about the direction the show took after producer David E. Kelley left. “They made the right decision in my opinion to do (the show) in New York in the ‘70s” rather than the original plan to set the ABC series in Los Angeles.
“It was sun-drenched and rather pleasant,” Pharoah said of the first ABC pilot. “The whole point of our show in Manchester and the one in New York is to show those mean streets and show how much has changed in these 30 years.”
While in New York for the International Emmys, Pharoah and Roach visited the ABC show as it filmed scenes Monday in Brooklyn. The differences between the two versions were apparent on set.
“For us, in our slightly limited BBC budget, we have two vintage cars,” Pharoah said. “They had a whole street of them. There’s kind of a bit of envy there. There were extras everywhere. My goodness.”