'The Returned' Producers Vow A&E Remake Will 'Take Different Turn'

Mark Pellegrino The Returned - H 2014

Mark Pellegrino The Returned - H 2014

To say 2014 was the year of the TV remake would be an understatement.

Fox delivered Broadchurch adaptation Gracepoint to lackluster results after telling reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that the series is a remake for American audiences who hadn't seen the original. The show fizzled almost immediately out of the gate and won't be back for a second season after delivering a nearly shot-for-shot remake (and a different ending).

On Friday at the semiannual tour's winter edition, producers behind A&E's The Returned — a remake of the French series about the dead coming back to life that was ordered straight to series — vowed that while there are a lot of similarities, the end result would be different.

"Over time, our show becomes quite different, particularly around episode six," executive producer Carlton Cuse told reporters. "The French show became very genre, incident-heavy at the end of its eight episodes. We take a different turn at that point. While we start at a similar place, the show is fairly, distinctively different by the end of its first season."

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Mark Pellegrino, India Ennenga, Sandrine Holt and Jeremy Sisto star in the drama from Bates Motel and The Strain's Cuse and Raelle Tucker (True Blood). Fabrice Gobert's Peabody-winning The Returned is based on the feature film Les Revenants from director Robin Campillo. The French series, which has been renewed for a second season and airs stateside on SundanceTV, is an International Emmy-winning drama set in a French mountain town where several local people who have long been presumed dead suddenly reappear. They bring with them both positive and detrimental consequences. As families are reunited, the lives of those who were left behind are challenged on a physical and emotional level. Interpersonal relationships are examined with intrigue and depth as strange phenomena begin to occur.

Cused stressed that the French series consisted of only eight episodes and that A&E's version will be "wholly original" after it reaches the same point in the French original. "There won't be any roadmap after season one," Cuse said, noting that while their premise is derived from the French show, "it's just the seed" of the plant before his show becomes "its own thing."

Cuse stressed that producers talked a lot about The Office — based on the British series starring Ricky Gervais — and how the NBC comedy became its own original show thanks to Steve Carell and the rest of its cast. "That's how we feel about our show," Cuse said.

The premise for The Returned also comes strikingly close to ABC's sophomore drama Resurrection — which is based on Jason Mott's book. Cuse said producers intentionally didn't watch Resurrection in a bid to safeguard their own creative process.

"We felt there was a way to take the show to make it very distinctly our own," Cuse said. "In the French show, there are some choices that are made near the end of the first season, and we don't make those choices. Yes, there is a small, fervent audience who watched the French version but also a large audience who didn't see the French show who will enjoy seeing this story told in English with new actors and a spin on it that over time increasingly becomes our own."

The Returned premieres March 9 after Bates Motel on A&E.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit