The Man Who Fell to Earth: Overcooked Sequel/Remake Mix Crashes Hard

The original 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth is a cult classic that cemented both David Bowie's image as an alien pop star and director Nic Roeg as one of the most unique directors out there. Since nothing is sacred anymore and any classic book, movie, or TV show is considered a franchise or Intellectual Property, it's no surprise we would get a new TV adaptation that's both a sequel and a remake.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is an Overcooked Sequel and Remake
"The Man Who Fell to Earth" key art: Showtime

The Man Who Fell to Earth 2022 features Chewitel Efijior as Faraday, an alien who comes to Earth with a mission to develop technology that would save his dying planet. He needs the help of Justin Falls, played by Naomi Harris, and Hatch Flood, played by Rob Delaney, to create a major tech company to develop that technology, but the CIA is after him, and things might go horribly wrong. That is the same plot of the original Walter Tevis novel and the 1976 movie. What makes it a sequel is that Faraday has to find Thomas Newton, the first Man Who Fell to Earth originally played by David Bowie but now played by British National Treasure Bill Nighy. Faraday needs Newton's original plans to design his world-saving tech, which he promises would save Earth from impending environmental disaster as well by weaning the world off oil and onto a revolutionary new energy source. This means the US government and other corporations with a vested interest in the status quo might want to thwart his plans, which doom both Faraday and Newton's world and Earth.

Showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, also oversee the current run of Star Trek series on Paramount+, and their revival/reboot/sequel of The Man Who Fell to Earth has a lot of the same problems that afflicted Star Trek: Discovery – a slower pace and almost obsessive focus on feelings and emotional trauma. Faraday is already an alien, yet they insist on many of the human supporting cast acting weird and buggy. Jimi Simpson plays the brutal and ruthless CIA agent as on the spectrum and weirdly twitchy. Naomi Harris' character Justin suddenly acts crazed and twitchy out of nowhere in episode 4 when she's revealed to have PTSD. Mary Lou, Thomas Newton's lover from the 1976 movie, is revealed to have become nuts and started a cult-like community in England in the present day. Chiwetel Efijior's Faraday is already an alien who acts weird. Why have the supporting characters acted weird as well? That's like putting hats on a hat. The show becomes overstuffed and overbaked with weirdos as if the showrunners were afraid that we wouldn't get the point. Only Rob Delaney makes the show funnier by playing his known comedy persona of the shambling, well-meaning guy who's smart enough to know how bad things will go and freaks out. At several points it feels like each of the actors is in a different show.

At the rate things are going, you wonder if the series will end up having the same outcome as the original movie and novel. Is Faraday going to succumb to alcoholism as Newton did? Will the government commit a hostile takeover of Faraday's company as they did Newton's? Will Rob Delaney end up with Thomas Newton's business partner Oliver Farnsworth's fate in the original movie? Will Faraday fail as Newton did or are the writers seeking a fanfic happy ending this time? This show wouldn't exist if the 1976 movie wasn't a classic. The repeat of the original movie's plot and the slick production values and special effects make the show feel like an inessential remake that only exists to fill up content requirements for a broadcaster.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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