Life on Mars

Tonight saw the second episodes of Eleventh Hour, which I recorded just-in-case despite hating the first episode that aired last Thursday, and Life on Mars being aired. I watched both episodes of Life on Mars, a remake of the critically acclaimed BBC series from a few years ago, last night and was quite surprised at how good the production values were. I'm not sure if I'm going to bother watching the second Eleventh Hour episode.

I never saw the British series so I don't know how well the translation from London to New York City went, but on its own, the USA version of Life on Mars is well worth watching. I do have a few problems with it tho--no surprise there. Personally I think it works as a police procedural but the "time travel" aspect isn't such a good thing.

Let me back up a step for those not familiar with the show. Life on Mars is an ABC drama about Sam Tyler, a cop from 2008 who screws up while distracted by the kidnapping of his girlfriend (and fellow cop) and walks in front of a car. *BAM* He then "wakes up" in a park across the river from Manhattan with the World Trade Center as a backdrop. Sam soon realizes he's a detective, due to the badge and ID in his pocket, and in the year 1973.

As you might guess this results in a certain amount of confusion and soul searching: Sam's unsure whether he's traveled back in time, is in a coma, hallucinating, or is dead. The addition of clues like his hearing ER doc-talk makes it appear that the coma option is the one to go with--but it's clues like this that, at least for me, detract from the show. I hate dream sequences in shows and movies. The thought that this entire series could be just a brain injury induced dream is very off putting. Enough so that I doubt I'll keep watching Life on Mars, despite its great cast. Harvey Keitel is wonderful as a thuggish lieutenant and Jason O'Mara sure tries hard as the lead with Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol rounding out the 1973 regulars; then there's flash-forwards to 2008 and Lisa Bonet as the kidnapped girlfriend)

The thing I find most annoying is how the main character reacts to his being adrift in time. The obvious thought is that he's crazy, and while he admits that possibility, he's frequently acting out his frustration and even openly accusing others of being in a conspiracy against him. Most people, I would think, would keep quiet and try to fit in while determining what's going on. Who wants to end up in a mental institution? At times the excuse given to Sam, that he's transferred from Hyde, some location Upstate, wears a little thin. Those 1973 cops would have fed him to the lions in the Bronx Zoo--especially after he notified Internal Affairs that cops from the 125th Precinct were behind a series of check cashing robberies.

Anyway... good police show with a very annoying veneer of coma/dream/dead wrapped around it.


kenju said…
I saw the 2nd show of Life on Mars and I thought it was pretty good, although Harvey Keitel is annoying with all the violence.
Teresa said…
I gave up on Life on Mars after about 15 minutes of the first episode. Over the top (and bad at times) acting, too much violence for my taste and I think I'm a little offended that the 70's is like Mars. I actually did turn on the 2nd episode, but didn't take to that one either. It's just as well... I'm devoted to seeing ER take it's final bow.
Deana said…
Isn't that the one the girl from the Cosby Show was coming back to TV for? It looked interesting in the commercials.

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