I went back and watched the first episode of the British Life On Mars. Wow, what a difference. There were so many little things that I forgot about, especially the ending scene with Annie's friend the psychology dude, and Sam on the roof of the police station. For some reason, I thought this occurred in a later episode. In the American version, Raimes is the modern day killer (with a twin) copying the original 70's killer. In the British version, the 70's killer was both - the lapse in the crimes being when he was in psych hospital, and then beginning again once he's released. The neighbor Raimes was only writing in his journal about killing, in order to emulate the killer who lived next door.
The dialogue and the acting in the original series is phenomenal. I get the feeling Hollywood thinks it needs to dumb down the dialogue and keep the plot moving quickly, or they might lose the attention of us slow-witted, action-addicted folk. Like the scene in the original with the bartender. Does he know Sam is in a coma? What special knowledge is he privy to? He seems to know something - and that draws us in. What about the test pattern girl on the television, who speaks to Sam throughout the series? These subtle pieces missing from the new version are what made the original intriguing.
In the original, John Simm relays the emotion and the feeling of near insanity at being back in 1973 in a way I just did not see in the new series. That, along with the fact that Harvey Keitel is simply too old and short to play Gene Hunt. Gene Hunt is supposed to be a man of about 45, tough guy, and tower over Sam.
The new show wasn't bad, just not the same quality. It was like seeing a wonderful Broadway show with the people who originate the roles - all the great actors - then going to see the same show at the local playhouse theater. Good show, just not the same. However, I understand that the writers/producers received permission to take liberties with the whole “coma or time travel” thing, so it's bound to be somewhat different.
Like I said, I'll definitely tune in next week, but mostly to see how the rest of the series is interpreted, and where they go with the plot.