Friday, 4 February 2011


[6.08 - French Time] Marchlands , Episode One. Three different families living in the same house in 1968, 1987 and 2010 are linked by the spirit of the 1968 family daughter, who died in mysterious circumstances.

ITV1 aired yesterday the premiere episode of the awaited Marchlands (formerly The Oaks), a five-part series from ITV Studios which is actually the British remake of The Oaks, a 2008 unpicked pilot developed for American network Fox. It's the result of an innovative 2008 deal between ITV and Fox to identify properties on their respective slates that could be developed for the other’s home market. The original pilot, written by David Schulner and directed by Michael Cuesta (Dexter), featured British actress Sienna Guillory, Jeremy Renner and a pre-Glee Matthew Morrison. It was produced by Shawn Ryan.

Marchlands, first commission to come from the collaboration between ITV Studios and Fox, is written by Stephen Greenhorn (Doctor Who) and directed by James Kent. It stars Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER), Jodie Whittaker, Dean Andrews (Ashes to Ashes), Shelley Conn (Mistresses), Elliot Cowan, Denis Lawson, etc. The story is a compilation of everything from the Poltergeist and Amityville franchises to the US chiller TV movies of the seventies and the work of Dan Curtis.

The British treatment of The Oaks has all mentioned above, plus shades of Sapphire & Steel (1979-1982) and the two Hammer television series of the eighties - in less scary. Should Marchlands be a hit it would be an amusing answer to the US Being Human and all those Brit shows remade by American networks. After all ITV remade wonderfully Who's the Boss? as The Upper Hand between 1990 and 1996.

On Channel 4 Marchlands would have been a gloomy crime drama. Its genesis is far more interesting than the drama itself, and we'll see who from ITV and Fox takes advantage of the 2008 deal. In the United States it's ABC which ordered a remake of ITV Studios's Identity, not Fox, and the next thing from this ITV/Fox partnership is apparently a British version of Dharma & Greg your humble servant is not looking forward to watch.

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