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TCA 2015: Comparing A&E's thriller 'The Returned' to 'The Office'

Producers of A&E's 'The Returned' compare it to 'The Office' @TCAOfficial

The producers of A&E's upcoming suspense drama "The Returned" are more interested in being likened to "The Office" than "Gracepoint."

Carlton Cuse ("Bates Motel," "Lost") and Raelle Tucker ("True Blood") are behind the American adaptation of the popular French drama about a small town that is upended after people long presumed dead suddenly resurface.

"The Returned" comes on the heels of Fox's "Gracepoint," an adaptation of acclaimed British mystery "Broadchurch," which caused some raised eyebrows for very closely following the original series. While "Broadchurch" won over critics and viewers across the pond, "Gracepoint" never managed to achieve the same grip for Fox on competitive Thursday nights.

A&E's drama also closely follows the original ("Les Revenants”), which gained some buzz stateside after Sundance Channel acquired the U.S. broadcast rights. And much like "Gracepoint" producers who promised the show would diverge from the original, Cuse and Tucker asserted the same during a panel Friday to promote "The Returned" at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

"To some degree, the starting point is similar," Cuse told reporters. "Over time our show becomes quite different." Cuse said that the 10-episode first season starts to stray around Episode 6, with the show becoming "distinctly different" by the end of the season.

Tucker added: "We didn't feel like we needed to force changes... It's not a competition between that show and this one."

In fact, a bumbling boss and his cohort of office workers are serving as a source of guidance in the adaptation process of the suspense thriller.

"We talked a lot about 'The Office,'" Cuse said. He pointed to how the U.S. version initially closely followed the U.K. version before becoming its own thing as what they hope to achieve as the show moves forward.

Then there's the matter of ABC's similar-in-theme drama "Resurrection," also about a small town with certain residents coping with the return of their deceased loved ones. Cuse said they consciously did not watch "Resurrection" while working on "The Returned."

"We didn't feel it would be good for our creative process."

Twitter: @villarrealy

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