BLOG The Best SF Recastings Of All Time

BLOGGERS’ WEEK For his first ever SFX blog, Matt Risley investigates a curious case of body swapping

Well, this is a little awkward.

While I like to imagine myself as one of your four shiny excitable new bloggers, dedicated to bringing you the very best in nerdy analysis and geeky rambling, there’s every chance that I’m merely perceived as a pesky usurper trampling over the bloggers of old.

But n’ary you worry – a creative shuffle can be a great thing, and through the pantheons of TV and Film history there have always been talent “rearrangements”.

I figured it was fitting to run through my list of the best SF re-castings of all time, involving some of the biggest franchises, actors, actresses and cows of all time.

Yep, you did read that right.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

When it came to repurposing Buffy for the small screen, it was clear that Joss Whedon had to get the essentials perfect if he ever wanted to distance his creation from her camp, cheesetastic and painfully ’90s movie debut.

While the original pilot went at least some way to nailing the series’ wit and tone (we’ll just forget those pan-pipes at 6’ 20” above ever happened shall we?), the make-up of the Scooby Gang was a little wonky.

Long before the eternally-adorable Alyson Hannigan stepped into a certain Willow Rosenberg’s unfashionable shoes, there was Riff Regan.

Brunette, stilted and awkward (in the wrong way), the bit-star of such classics as Blossom , Sisters , Roseanne and Dr Quinn Medicine Woman , she certainly tried her best – but when you compare these opening minutes to that of the aired pilot you can’t argue with the results.

Being Human

Our very own blogger extraordinaire Narin Bahar had a significant part to play in getting Being Human commissioned for a full series (nerdy devotion FTW), although responsibility lies elsewhere for the current cast we all know, love and will forever mourn (toodles Mitchell).

Russell Tovey was the only actor to retain his part (we’re guessing the bum-flashing nudity clause probably swung it), with Aidan Turner, Lenora Crichlow and Jason Watkins replacing Guy Flanagan, Andrea Riseborough and Adrian Lester as Mitchell, Annie and Herrick respectively.

Creator (and Godlike genius) Toby Whithouse has stated that he considers the pilot canon, although the tone and humour is noticeably different, and we can’t help but feel they’re different beasts altogether.

And for those of us who have occasionally moaned about Annie’s annoyingness or Mitchell's floppy haired melodramas in the past, just check out these two: it could have been a lot, lot worse.

True Blood

I don't know about you, but if there was one thing in True Blood ’s pilot that truly scared the bejeebus out of me, it wasn’t the vampires or hillbillies.

Nope, it was the lingering, unnerving fear that you could one day innocently wander into a garden store and be confronted with the terrifyingly “uppity” Tara Thornton.

Kudos to Rutina Wesley for nailing both the accent and the spunky attitude – something original Tara Brook Kerr missed by a mile.

Back To The Future

Long, long ago (or in the future – we get confused), Marty McFly wasn’t quite the spritely, infectiously energetic whippersnapper we’ve come to know and love.

While Michael J Fox was always Robert Zemeckis’ first choice, commitments and contractual obligation to his day job on TV sitcom Family Ties meant that when confronted with a pushy studio and an ever-nearing production start date, the role went to Eric Stoltz.

They filmed for five weeks before everyone realised that things just weren’t working out (Spielberg himself noted Stoltz’s tendency to lean towards the drama more than the comedy), and so legal eagles were brought in to renegotiate Fox’s contracts.

And lo, a fuzzy haired time-travelling icon was born.

Fringe

You can have the greatest actor possible for the part, and they could be ready and raring to sign on the dotted line, but even the greatest on-screen chemistry can be side-swiped by that most timeless of enemies – red tape.

And so, Fringe ’s greatest and hereto-unsung actress was never given the chance to showcase the true depth of their acting talent.

For when production of season one had to be moved from the pilot’s original Canadian shooting location to New York, Abrams and co had to recast a cow that was prevented from crossing the border due to livestock restrictions.

Gene/Pansy, we barely knew ye.
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