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January 13 2011

Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg are developing a new show for Syfy. Looks to be an American take on a UK series that some of you (not me) might be familiar with.

It's not a bad premise, it got remade in the 90s. The original and the remake had cool theme songs.
One of my favourite shows when I was young.

But I didn't watch the 90's remake. It'll be interesting to see what Jane and Drew with it.
Alexis Denisof had a small role in the remake - IIRC filmed during the gap between his stints on Buffy and Angel!
The 90s remake did try to have an overall arc and was quite creepy in places. But Vic and Bob weren't the best choices as leads.
Sounds like fun!
Only really know the show from the 90s, although heard of the original of course. I liked it, but I would have been quite young, so that probably shouldn't be considered a recommendation.

Not as awesome as Bugs to my feeble young mind though.
'Bugs' indeed, dear oh dear ;).

Always interested in what Jane and Drew bring to the table and it's a pretty decent premise that you can go in a few directions with (comedy, dramedy, even gritty realism, save the one gimme) so i'll take a look if it goes.

(the late 90s remake was OK but as Simon says, Vic and Bob - brilliant though they are IMO - just weren't right for it, their baggage is too off the wall so that even Bob Mortimer doesn't really convince as the straightman. If it'd been made even a few years later Mitchell & Web would've been a decent fit I reckon)
I liked the earlier version better as well, and agree that the leads in the newer version didn't click for me. The first part of the 1969 series is available in Region 1 and on Netflix. But, if you want to see the rest it's either Region 2 or "other" means.

I don't think it will suffer from comparison the way that many of the recent US remakes have. It's not based on source material that it as recent, and it doesn't need to be watered-down to get by the standards and practices people.

I'm certainly going to check it out.
I absolutely avoid TV shows with ghosts in them, but given the pedigree of this, I'll make an exception.
janef, why? Ghosts aren't particularly popular and all the ones I can think of (Spike, Being Human character, Casper...) all are pretty cool. Seems like an odd thing to avoid.

Anyway, I like this premise, though I think a re-title will be needed for a US launch.
I'm with janef. I just find ghost to be boring all round.

I've never heard of this show. Did it have a supernatural bent to it, besides the guy being a ghost and all, or was it a normal cop show where one of them just happened to be a ghost?

It kinda sounds like a perfect show for SciFi SyFy and their move towards non-genre shows: A show that seems like sci-fi but actually isn't sci-fi.

But still, Espenson and Greenberg = I'll be there!

ETA: Just read the comments on EW and one commenter suggested James Marsters and Nick Brendon in the roles. For those who have seen the UK versions, would that work? Should we start a Facebook campaign, or not? ;)

[ edited by Kaan on 2011-01-13 21:07 ]
I think Ghosts can be problematic, narratively speaking. By definition they are not really of this world and therefore, their interests are no longer human. I think you could say that if the mind and body together make us human, then the ghost is at best, just mind.

Even if they are the sort of ghosts that can act and influence the world, does it really matter to us as humans? They're not "down in the dirt" with us. The only way to make it matter, is to make them some sort of "special" human, kinda like a vampires that aren't of the übervamp variety. But vampire's at least have bodies with basic needs and fears that are similar to ours, even if they are taken to a rather extreme expression. Much more relate-able. (I'll make an exception for the ghost that is the metaphorical manifestation of our repressions. That kind of ghost might matter to me, but I think it would be hard to pull off as a long running character.)

So yeah, ghosts? Kinda boring. Jane and Drew Z? Worth checking out. Always.
Don't really see the issue with ghosts on TV shows myself - you make them matter to us the same way you make any other character matter, write them well and involve us in their "lives", have them be funny/sympathetic/interesting etc. And it's a ghost so by definition you can make up your own rules, if you want there to be peril for the ghost then Shazam !, you invent something that imperils them (like the "black doors" in 'Being Human'), if you want them to be able to affect the world but only in a limited way then you do that (Hopkirk 1.0 can "teleport" and move things like a poltergeist for instance but it's a big strain, usually it amounted to blowing doors closed, that sort of level). You can do what you like in other words, just like with any other supernatural creature (vampires etc.). If anything it's easier since with ghosts there are no hard and fast rules so you won't have people moaning at you when e.g. you have them walk around in daylight (like the little known vampire Dracula could).

Just read the comments on EW and one commenter suggested James Marsters and Nick Brendon in the roles. For those who have seen the UK versions, would that work?

Hmm, JM as Randall and Nick Brendon as Hopkirk wouldn't be insane but it doesn't leap out as inspired casting in the way e.g. Tobey Maguire as Spider-man did. Hopkirk (the ghost) is pretty neurotic, even slightly camp (but not really in the self-aware way that Xander is) and Randall (undeceased ;) is a pretty straightforward blokey sort of fella, pretty much what you'd expect a slightly low-rent private detective to be like. They could both do it but then so could loads of people.
Depends how you do a ghost story, right? A little movie called The Others, is one of the most spine-tingling things I've ever seen. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is one of my all-time favorite movies. Being Human is an unknown quantity to me thus far, but I've got hopes. If Jane and Drew are involved in this new show, of course I'm open.
My main bug bear with ghosts in TV shows is a lack of consistency about how solid they are. How come they can walk through walls but still manage to walk up stairs? Their solidity seems more driven by the plot than any internal logic.

But maybe that says more about me than about the writers!
I'm with most of the other Brits - I loved the original series, even if it does seem a touch camp on rewatching (it's often on minor channels like Dave or E4 or whatever it is, in the afternoon.) The remake was workmanlike, but Reeves and Mortimer just didn't get the vibe.

While I'd love to see Whedon alums in it, I fear they'll go for younger pretty boys so Jeannie can also be improbably young and thin. Even so, with that provenance it's going to be worth a look.
Hmmm.. James Marsters has played a ghost already.
Ooh I've never seen that before. And usually I dislike the whole "buddy cop" thing, but I'll give it a go if it's got the "buddy slayer" vibe like Buffy S3, well when they were buddies, in that one episode that time when they weren't punching each other's face in for like a minute(Bad Girls and the start of Revelations and that sounds to me like the best bits of their buddyness).

Of course if it turns into Angel S5 with Spike and Angel, less interested, that got tired after the first episode.
@jaymil and others: my issues with ghosts as a storytelling element on TV and movies are similar to my dislike of scifi that ignores (not alters speculatively to work out a premise, but flat out ignores) scientific fact, historical fiction that's cavalier about historical details, and any other form of entertainment that's too lazy to do the research.

I have never had any encounter with a ghost, but I think they are actual phenomena that current scientific knowledge has not yet explained adequately, like meteorite strikes in the eighteenth century. I've done some reading about them and I have a friend who used to be called in professionally to deal with hauntings. The eyewitness reports of ghosts that I think are credible are consistent in some ways. Ghosts may be friendly, hostile or indifferent to live people, but their behavior tends to be repetitious. Ghosts seem to have a limited ability to take in new information, which is not surprising since they are literally not all there.

The ghost in Hamlet behaves like a credible ghost. He has one thing on his mind and he sticks to it. The idea that a ghost would be capable of helping a live detective with complicated problem solving is not credible. Most TV and Hollywood depictions of ghosts, if they don't go the horror route, are based on sentimentalized Christian ideas of the afterlife. This is pure wish fulfillment and I don't care for it.
Must admit, fictional ghosts not being realistic enough isn't where I thought that was going.
I always like to read your posts, Saje. On this subject, my viewpoint is nearly the direct opposite of what you wrote above, "You can do what you like in other words, just like with any other supernatural creature." I have a different understanding of "supernatural" than most people, and I wouldn't have gone into it (because an adequate discussion would take us far afield from the domain of this blog) if I hadn't been asked a direct question.
Oh i've no problem with you expressing your beliefs janef, it was just unexpected is all (given that in fiction cops solve every crime they're assigned, hackers break military level encryption on their laptops and petite blonde women become superheroes after merging with ancient demon essences "ghosts aren't treated realistically enough" just seems an unusual place to draw your suspension of disbelief line but we're all unusual in some respects, what a dull world it'd be otherwise ;).

FWIW BTW, i'm open to the idea that there may be something to ghosts in reality (and that it'd be more as you describe than Marty Hopkirk style full interaction with, essentially, a human being you can walk through). I haven't seen (what i'd call) good evidence for it but "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" as they say (and I must admit, I also haven't spent a great deal of time looking for evidence either). To me some of what we call 'supernatural' is just natural we don't understand yet, so long as we apply the same scientific rigour that we do when investigating more widely accepted phenomena then I don't have any issue with looking into it.
I've never heard of this, but if Jane and Drew are developing it, I'll definitely give it a try.
The reason I love both these writers is because they brought the funny more than any other Buffy writers.

And this offers that opportunity more than anything else they've done since.

Can't wait.
Sounds good to me. As an American, I had no exposure to the original series. But saw a few episodes of the remake--& seem to remember Tom Baker as the most "supernatural" character.

Realistic ghosts? I grew up watching Topper on TV...
Darn, I was hoping this would be an American version Misfits as that is one of my favorite, if not my very favorite, tv show currently running anywhere in the world. It's also very Buffy-esque in its approach to genre and tropes.
Another foreign (to me and by extension the USA) show that is Buffy-esque and I think would be interesting to see a US version of is the Canadian show that broadcasts on the Space channel called Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. It's a very satirical show that if you defined it in the current TV lingo would be: Buffy meets Evil Dead. Lots of trope inversion and black comedy that exponentially crosses the line.
I just only discovered Todd and the Book of Pure Evil a few days ago, quickly optically consumed the 13 brief episodes (including one that's a musical) and I am left wanting for more. In my opinion both owe a heavy debt to Buffy through Buffy's approach to deconstruction of horror tropes. Fair warning season 1 ends on a cliffhanger and it hasn't been renewed for a 2nd season yet. Mayhaps the mass purchasing of dvds and digital media would help sway the suits that produce it? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!
I live too far south of the border to watch Canadian broadcast TV. I don't understand why the networks that pick up and rebroadcast British shows (PBS network mostly) never consider airing a Canadian series. I never thought about this until I watched the first season of Forever Knight, a show that was set in Toronto and had Canadian references. I found that refreshing and wonder what other decent shows I'm missing because no American channel or network will air them.
If you haven't seen 'Slings and Arrows' then that's one IMO.

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