Spanish successes spice up major US networks’ fall schedules

Fox’s ‘Red Band Society’ and NBC’s ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ are based on shows made in Spain

Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in Fox’s ‘Red Band Society.’
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in Fox’s ‘Red Band Society.’

This fall there’s a notably Spanish flavor to the television schedules of two of the major US broadcasting networks: both Fox and NBC are placing their bets on adaptations of original series made in Spain.

Red Band Society is Fox’s new name for original Catalan series Polseres vermelles. Set inside L.A.’s Ocean Park Hospital, it follows the relationships between a group of teenage patients. Pau Freixas, executive producer and co-creator of the original story with screenwriter Albert Espinosa, has already seen the pilot of the American version.

“The tone is more irreverent, more politically incorrect than ours,” he says. “It shies away a bit more from drama, although there will be more of a dramatic component in the future. They also place more emphasis on the adults,” he explains.

The tone is more irreverent, more politically incorrect than ours”

The cast of the US adaptation includes Octavia Spencer, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2012 for her role in The Help.

“I am really enthusiastic about the adult cast,” says Freixas. “I have a little more trouble with the kids. The selection is really good, but ours were more naïve. You can tell that these kids have more experience, and you lose that sense of fragility that our kids had. It’s a different style.”

The other originally Spanish project is The Mysteries of Laura, an adaptation of Los misterios de Laura, which aired on state broadcaster TVE and was also executive produced by Freixas.

“I have read the pilot screenplay and seen a few images. They’re going to introduce more comedy and some more action,” he says. “Their Laura is somewhat younger and not as naïve.”

Debra Messing (Will & Grace, Smash) takes over from original Spanish actress María Pujalte in the title role of the US version. Produced by Warner Bros., it follows the hectic life of Laura Diamond, an NYPD homicide detective who is more successful at dealing with criminals than her twin sons back home.

Freixas says both adaptations preserve the spirit of the originals. “They respect the soul, but adapt them to the tastes and styles of each network,” he says. “I am proud about a job well done. The most powerful industry in the world is confirming that we are on the right track and need to keep working along the same lines.”