Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Dish

There's a big game this Sunday, in case you hadn't heard. It's going to be huge. The Bruins are in Montreal for a match-up against the Canadiens with implications for the playoff race.

There's also a football game. Colts versus Saints. Two powerhouse offenses led by two elite quarterbacks, Peyton Manning for Indianapolis and Dree Brees for New Orleans. Hanging in the balance is so fancy jewelery and something about Hurricane Katrina. People watch the Super Bowl for three reasons:

1) They like to eat and drink and possibly hang out with other people doing the same
2) No, DON'T speed through the commercials, this is a larger topic of conversation the next day
3) Betting cold, hard cash

As of Friday, the Colts are favored at -5, and the over/under is set at 57. My advice to all gambling degenerates is to take the Saints at +5 and to take the over. It seems fair to say the Colts will win 35-31, which would make YOU the winner (unless you like the Saints personally). That's a solid investment for your child's college tuition.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adaptation of Martians

Turning books into movies is the most popular form of switching mediums, although you see the same with plays, comic books, television shows, etc. Adapting the work of a single writer (or sometimes a writer plus illustrator, inker, colorist, et al) into the work of many (screenplay writers, actors, director, producers, film editors, special effects gurus, et al) oftentimes means that nuance is lost. Probably fairly often you also lose the original motivation of the creator.

Perhaps the more interesting analysis is taking something in one medium and keeping it in the same medium. For example, you have the remake of "The Prisoner" that was running on AMC. You could also look at the new "Doctor Who" series, which is more of a generational reboot than a remake. There are also cultural remakes, such as "The Office," which was successful in the UK but exploded in popularity in its new American version.

This leads us all to this very interesting Slate article from a few weeks ago which discusses one of my favorite television programs of all time, "Life on Mars," and why the American version was so poorly received.

Britain is different in that they are content, in theory, to have a television program run less than five "series" (seasons for you and I). In contrast, with rare exception ("F-Troop," "Star Trek," etc.), American programs are deemed failures if they cannot go five seasons, the so-called bare necessary needed for syndication (this gives you roughly 100 episodes for the syndicated subscribers to cycle through). So while both "Life on Mars" programs actually had nearly the same number of episodes (16 for the original, 17 for the Yankee production), they had radically different resolutions, with the American counterpart scrambling towards the end to come up with a finale once the axe fell.

The U.S. "LOM" wasn't a bad show, but it wasn't on the same level of the U.K. version, and ultimately was lost with some other interesting ABC dramas like "Kings" and "The Unusuals," with solid concepts that apparently lacked mass appeal.