|Created by||David Schulner|
|Country of origin||United States|
The Oaks is an American supernatural drama television pilot, created by David Schulner for the Fox network's 2008/2009 season. The addition to the Fox line-up was speculated to be a much-needed high-concept drama, purportedly to compete in ratings with ABC's Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy, and with CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its various spin-off shows. In spite of making an early blind series commitment, Fox did not pick up the drama for the 2008/2009 season. It was reportedly shopped to other networks, with a UK remake of the show, Marchlands, produced in 2010.
The Oaks follows the lives of three families, in different time periods, who all occupy the same house haunted by a restless spirit. The previous house owners also appear to their successors as ghosts. Writer Schulner explains, "Each personal story, each small relationship story is tied to a larger ghost story. I can't tell the story of one family without telling the story of another family that lived there."
David Schulner wrote the script and was inspired when moving into a new house himself, thinking about those who had lived there previously. In 2007, after a heated bidding war between Fox, ABC and CBS for Schulner's concept for The Oaks, it was eventually narrowed down to CBS and Fox, with Fox ultimately taking the show for their line up in August, 2007.
Shawn Ryan, Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo and with Michael Cuesta produced The Oaks. Cuesta directed the pilot titled Amelia. Production on the series officially began on November 5, 2007 with the filming of the pilot episode. "Amelia" was filmed on location in South Pasadena, California, however, Schuler and Ryan participated in the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike that began that day at 12:01 A.M., causing the two to be absent on set for filming. On November 12, it was announced that the 1988 portion of the series would make tonal changes to become more comedic, along with other cast changes to accommodate. However, the changes to The Oaks casting and tone was approved by Schulner and Ryan. Filming on the pilot was completed in late November.
Linda Lowy and John Brace cast the pilot in Los Angeles. In September 2007, Bahar Soomekh as Hollis, Matt Lanter as Mike and Shannon Lucio as Sarah, were officially cast. October saw the addition of British actresses Gina McKee as Molly and Sienna Guillory as Jessica, and the actor Jeremy Renner as Dan. In November when filming began, Gina Mckee was replaced by actress Romy Rosemont to better accommodate the more comedic and blue collar direction taken for the 1988 family and for the character Molly. The addition of Michael Rispoli as Frank was also announced. Because Schulner and Ryan were absent due to the writers' strike, casting of Rispoli and Rosement was overseen by nonwriting executive producer Gina Matthews.
Three families over the span of four decades, move into the same house, and they are all haunted by a restless spirit. The families are as follows:
In 1968, estranged couple Sarah and Mike harbor deep feelings of resentment and sorrow, aimed at each other after the death of their young daughter Amelia. In 1988, sexually frustrated husband and wife Frank and Molly raise their two children, Lucy and Brian. In 2008, the power couple of pregnant Hollis and her emasculated husband Dan move into the same house as the other families and during renovation, are quick to find something that sheds light on the house's secrets. It is revealed in the pilot, titled Amelia, that "several characters have unexpected connections to the past in some very novel ways".
A UK-based remake of The Oaks, entitled Marchlands began airing on ITV1 on 3 February 2011. The UK version stars Alex Kingston. A second series called Lightfields began on ITV1 on 27 February 2013. Featuring different families at a new house, the titular 'Lightfields', across the 1940s, 1970s and present.
A France-based remake of The Oaks, entitled Le Secret d'Élise, began airing on the Switzerland channel RTS Un on 19 September 2015, on the Belgium channel La Une on 22 September 2015 and on the French channel TF1 on 8 February 2016. It stars Bénabar, Hélène de Fougerolles and Bruno Salomone.