Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time Travel, Part 2: Returning To 'Mars'

When it first debuted on this side of the pond over the summer, I hailed "Life On Mars" as TV's coolest new show.

Little has been said or done for me to change my opinion.

The series returns tonight for its second and final season on BBC America beginning with two episodes at 8 and 9 p.m.

Manchester cop Sam Tyler (John Simm) is a modern cop in 2006, using the latest in state-of-the-art technology and methods to catch bad guys. But a car accident has left Sam as a cop in 1973, where crime-solving is usually accomplished by one's fists.

Sam now finds himself the junior partner alongside Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), about as old school as you can get. Sam must adjust to life in 1973, full of its sexist and politically incorrect ideals, while trying to introduce a modern sensibility as he clashes with Hunt.

But the larger question is, has Sam actually traveled in time, and if so, how can he get back? Or is Sam in a coma, and everything is just a dream? Or, maybe, Sam has gone crazy.

"Life On Mars" boasts great humor in the chemistry between Sam and Hunt, in addition to the nostalgia of cop shows of a bygone era. (It also has one of the coolest soundtracks of any show on TV).

"Life On Mars" has already ended in the UK, which tends to end its shows while there is still plenty of life in them, unlike US shows, which tend to drag on. But worry not: A spinoff of sorts called "Ashes To Ashes," featuring a slightly older Gene Hunt partnered with a woman (Keeley Hawes of "MI-5") in 1980s Margaret Thatcher England, is already in production.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: The remaining few new episodes of dramatic programs continue to sputter out.

"Cane" (CBS, 9 p.m.) moves along with back-to-back episodes tonight. It will battle the mighty ABC lineup of "According to Jim" (ABC, 9 p.m.) and "Boston Legal" at 10 p.m.


Jonathan said...

Sadly, I have yet to see an episode of "Life on Mars." I don't think it's out on DVD yet, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe On-Demand will have it as well. I've always been curious but have just never found the time to watch it.

You're right about the BBC though. Unless it's "Doctor Who" or apparently "Footballer Wives," you're lucky to get three to four seasons out of it. And speaking of yesterday's conversation about leaving shows hanging in the end with no closure, the great BBC sitcom, "Coupling" (Not the crappy American remake) ended its final season with a freaking cliffhanger. So annoying.

zodin2008 said...


I am about as unmoved as anyone to most BBC series - I have tried many (including MI-5) and I am generally unimpressed and feel Phillip overrates all of them due to his blind obssession with all English culture.

That being said, "Life on Mars" is that good and I thoroughly enjoyed season 1. I will definitely check "Ashes to Ashes" when it comes stateside to BBCA, simply because of the greatness that is Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt.

Despite my complete aversion to ALL things David E. Kelley, the biggest and most talent-less hack in the history of Television, I am willing to check out his American-ized version when it comes to ABC next year, because Kelley cast the ONE guy in the world I could see being just as good a Gene Hunt - and that's DS9's fantastic Colm Meany.

If not for the Colm Meany casting, I would absolutely avoid the American version next year.