Monday, August 07, 2006

No summertime blues

It used to be that summer was nothing but re-runs or test balloons for shows that network executives had paid for but didn't have much faith in.

Then cable TV suddenly grew in both popularity and quality, and we the viewers have been the better for it. I'll try to highlight some of the summer fare you may have been enjoying, or have been missing and may want to give a chance.

Since this is a Monday, we'll go with what is the most interesting and cool show of the summer, maybe of the season. "Life on Mars," inspired by the David Bowie song, airs on BBC-America at 10 p.m. It tells the story of Det. Chief Inspector Sam Tyler (John Simm), a top cop in 2006. While investigating a serial killing in which his girlfriend is one of the victims, Sam is hit by a car. When he wakes up, it's 1973.

Has Sam gone crazy? Is he in a coma? Or has he actually somehow traveled through time? It's quite the puzzle for Sam, who has to adjust to quite a difference in police methods, especially since he's been reduced in rank to Det. Inspector. His boss, DCI Hunt (Philip Glenister), has seen one too many Clint Eastwood movies, and it shows when it comes to interrogating a suspect.

In addition to the cool set-up, Life on Mars features some of the best music of that area -- the Who, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney -- into each episode. The series is co-created by the same people who brought you "MI-5" and "Hustle," two of the best shows on TV.

My advice is to watch the British version. Producer David Kelley ("Picket Fences," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal") has bought the U.S. rights and plans to re-do it for American television. It'll suck -- not only because most of Kelley's other shows are crappy and overrated, but also because most British shows lose something in the translation to American TV. I'll talk more about it on Thursday, when I point out one of the exceptions to this rule.


Zodin2008 said...

Amen to the bashing of one, David E. Kelley. He has singlehandly done as much to screw up American Television as Reality TV.

"Life on Mars" is a terrific Summer series.

Along with "Psych", the 2 best new shows of the Summer of 2006.

This Girl said...

I hope you're going to say The Office is the one good British import. Because it is... now, don't get me wrong, the original was so funny, it is not duplicatible (is that a word?), but I think that the essence of it is awesome and that the american version does a good job of getting it. And I am a fan of the long, drawn out comedy, when Michael Scott does something for so long that it becomes funny to us. And Steve Carrell is so funny as that character. The one thing he does well is make us feel sorry for him in his cluelessness while thinking he's a jerk. Sometimes he's not a big enough jerk. Despite all the good things about the american show, every aspect that I love about it was done much better in the original. Although Dwight Schrute is pretty darn close to being as funny as Gareth Keenan.

Zodin2008 said...

Yes, "The Office" is brilliant. Both versions.

It's one of the rare imports we got right.

Hopefully, Ricky Gervais will make an appearance on the American version soon!

Phillip Ramati said...

To preview the blog for the rest of the week, 1) I will talk about "Psych" on Friday; 2) This Girl, you probably won't be disappointed on Thursday.

This Girl said...

Oh yeah? can't wait!