Russia TV remakes British hit with Soviet twist



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 5 November 2012

Last update 5 November 2012 5:17 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

AFTER A CAR CRASH, a tough Moscow cop is mysteriously transported back to 1979, with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev on the television, red-kerchiefed Young Pioneers still active and a far lower tolerance of police violence.
Russia’s most popular television channel has remade the BBC’s cult time-travel drama “Life on Mars,” moving the action from the gritty streets of 1970s Manchester to the sleepy era of late leader Brezhnev in Moscow.
It is not the first time Russian television has remade a popular Western show, though this remake is more unusual in taking on a darker drama with a complex concept.
A Russian channel had a huge hit with its remake of the originally Colombian show “Ugly Betty,” while the US sitcom “Married ... With Children” has been successfully transported to the city of Yekaterinburg.
Russia has also bought in light entertainment formats such as the quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” for its prime-time slot.
The new Russian show is called “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
“Life on Mars,” which aired in Britain in 2006-2007, has also been remade in the United States, where it ran for only one series, and in Spain. It tells the story of a detective who after a car crash finds himself mysteriously back in 1973 and working at the same police station.
The British show riffs on the sexist, hard-drinking and violent police culture of the 1970s versus the more politically correct ways of today, but the Russian makers admitted they had to reflect a very different situation.
“In the British series, he goes from our time to that one and sees a harshness that does not work ... he is a decent guy and opposes it,” said producer Alexander Tsekalo.
“In our story it is all absolutely the other way round. He finds himself in the 1970s and behaves with a harshness that is not appropriate for a policeman of the Soviet period.” “He can push his way into an apartment without a search order, break down the doors, twist people’s arms and ask one-sided questions.” “They keep telling him: ‘Have you gone mad? You’re unbalanced. You mustn’t do that. We don’t do stuff like that.’” “We worked with the reality that we live in, because today the organs are harsher in some ways than they were then.” The Soviet police had a fairly minor role in a tightly controlled country with little violent or organized crime. They were not nearly as powerful as the security forces.
By contrast, today’s bloated and underfunded force is widely feared and implicated in bribe-taking as well as headline-grabbing drunken shootings and the torture of suspects.
The show, which opens today on Channel One, is an unusually ambitious remake for Russian television. It painstakingly recreates the Soviet atmosphere by filming in Minsk in ex-Soviet Belarus.
“We didn’t even have to build any scenery,” said Tsekalo, who at 51 remembers the period well.
The most spectacular scenes use hi-tech graphics to show present-day Moscow melting into that of the late 1970s.
The hero is knocked down by a car outside the church, which was rebuilt in the 1990s.
The cathedral vanishes, to be replaced by a giant outdoor swimming pool, which was built by the atheist Soviet authorities after they blew up the original cathedral.
In hospital with concussion, the hero only gradually realizes he is in a different era, unsurprisingly given the unmodernized state of most Russian hospitals.
But talking to a doctor with horn-rimmed glasses and a dial phone on his desk, he spots medal-decked Soviet leader Brezhnev giving one of his endless speeches on the black-and-white television.
“Why is everything around so old?” the series protagonist wonders aloud.
“Oh I wouldn’t say so” the doctor says, misunderstanding the question. “At 67, a politician is right at his peak.” BBC Worldwide’s Executive Producer of formats and local productions, Duncan Cooper, told journalists in Moscow via a video link that he welcomed the free style of the adaptation.
“I think the most important thing is that it has to be relevant to a Russian audience ... You have such a rich history and it’s really exciting that your version had to enquire into the world of the Soviet Union.” “The idea is obviously always in adapting series to keep the very best of the original, but to embrace the local culture and history, and I think that is exactly what this adaptation has done.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Timely intervention by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman helped move a Saudi woman, who was declared “brain dead” in the US, to the Kingdom.Hani Matar El-Enzi was quoted as saying by an online publication on Wednesday that his wife, Bas...
RIYADH: The world’s fattest man from Jazan has shed 320 kg in almost three years and a video online showed him taking his first steps with the help of a Zimmer frame, thanks to the role of the Ministry of Health in the weight-loss program.Khaled Mohs...
JEDDAH: The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has questioned the fairness of Saudis being sentenced to death in Iraq.The organization believes the sentences have been issued against the backdrop of “sectarian pressures” and that the regional s...
RIYADH: The $22-billion Riyadh Metro project is going on according to the plan despite the fact that many global projects are faltering.“There are many stalled projects all over the world and not in the Kingdom alone, but the metro project in the Sau...
JEDDAH: Four members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) were stabbed by a youth who was allegedly trying to blackmail a girl in Jeddah. The incident happened on Tuesday night and the four officers, who sus...
RIYADH: A recent report released by the Ministry of Labor revealed that the number of violations registered on the ministry’s electronic program “Together for Monitoring” in the months of December 2015 and January 2016 amounted to 484, of which 157 w...
RIYADH: Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih visited the medical complex in Thuwal, near Jeddah, on Tuesday. The facility was set up by Saudi Aramco, whose chairman is the health minister himself.According to the minister, the complex provides primary hea...
JEDDAH: A number of Shoura Council members have voiced objections to some imams who express their personal opinions during Friday sermons.The members asked the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to supervise the sermons to make sure they were written by spe...
MADINAH: Street vendors near the Prophet’s Mosque pose a risk to the country’s reputation and economy besides blocking the way of service cars, Red Crescent and Civil Defense vehicles, an expert has said.Ninety-eight percent of these street merchants...
RIYADH: Appropriate action has been taken against the Haia members who were involved in beating up a girl opposite the Nakheel shopping mall here recently, but the girl was also at fault, a Haia official has clarified.“A probe has revealed that the g...
I am from the east of France but moved to Saudi Arabia from Paris in 1990. I worked for a princess as a French language tutor. I was young and single. I thought it was very exotic and mysterious. I lived in a palace. I left Saudi Arabia in 1992 and c...
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) held a symposium on Kashmir and the obligation of Muslim world toward Kashmiris.It was presided by Ali Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi diplomat. Other guests and speakers at the event were Shahid Nayeem, pres...
DAMMAM: A total of 627 kidney transplant surgeries were performed in the Kingdom last year, bringing the number of kidney transplants, performed since the beginning of the organ donation program, to 9,000 surgeries, said Dr. Faisal Shaheen, director...
ABHA: Saudi women spend more on cosmetics compared to women in the West, the Arab world and even in the Gulf, economic studies show.Recent statistics issued by the Saudi Customs suggest the amount of imported cosmetics in the past year exceeded SR2.3...
RIYADH: A study is under way to provide health insurance to Umrah pilgrims and domestic workers and certain articles of the health regulations needs to be amended, an official has said.According to local media, the statement was made by Mohammed bin...

Stay Connected

Facebook