Thursday, August 7, 2008

Life on Mars-BBC at its Best

Both Life on Mars and The Eleventh Hour are being remade for American TV, but its hard to imagine they will be as good as the original shows. We live in a modern world with all kinds of high tech gadgets, why can't the US Networks work out a deal with the British Networks to air their shows here the same time they are aired there? I like to see these shows when they are new, not several years down the road as some US Producer thinks they should look. I mean, they do show new episodes of House and LOST in London, don't they? Oh well, I do manage to see them anyway-eventually.

I've always had a soft spot for any kind of Time Travel story-maybe that whole idea of traveling back and knowing the future-who wins the big game, what stocks will rise, what collectibles will be hot, and all that kind of stuff. The plot in Life on Mars is simple enough, our hero is DCI Sam Tyler who is hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up a DI in 1973. Is it a dream or has Sam really traveled back in time? A recurring joke is that Sam doesn't do the Miranda Rights properly. During the first season he knows such things as which horse will win a big race and he invents the Sports Pub. All good fun things.

The big shocks are that all Police in 1973 are bent as crooked as a fishing hook-expect for Sam. Also, there is no two-way glass for suspect identification, no recording of police interviews, no reliance on CSI to solve crimes and no real desire to find the real criminals. Rounding up the usual suspects seems to be the law of the land. Everyone smokes and drinks all the time. The fashion is big collars and loud prints. And even a police women is given no respect and called a slag to her face. These were the good old days for sure.

This all takes place is Manchester, originally it was to be set in London, but the BBC wanted to branch out a bit. Our hero was a little boy and comes close to meeting himself in one episode. There are flashes of the 'real world'-we hear the sounds of a hospital room and the voices of his loved ones telling him to hang on. He knows he is in a comma, but the knowledge does him no good-he can't wake up and so he has to live out his life in the horrid past.

I really love this show. Sam Tyler talks about all these things that I am familiar with and it is filmed like an old style Cop Show. It feels like Cannon, or Starchy and Hutch, with its mad speeding cars and punch everyone and ask questions later attitude. The station doesn't have an interview room, or a line up room, and seems not to be too big on walls in general. Everyone seems a tad dim and no one respects the new man's odd views on Law Enforcement. For example our hero wants some blood splatter annalist and no one knows what he's talking about. Ambulance drivers are not paramedics and our hero knows more about caring for the wounded than they do.

But they are coming around to his way of thinking as his brand of crime solving works better than theirs-at least some of the time. They fight crime, just like a normal cop show, but our hero is handicapped by the low tech world he finds himself trapped in. He also lives in a shockingly shabby flat and I think it would be a flop house in 1973. He's a single man with a real job for crying out loud, why can't he at least afford a real bed to sleep in?

Anyway-I haven't finished watching the whole thing yet, but I love the way it looks and sounds. I've always been a big David Bowie fan, even though I have often thought that most of the 1970s were just dreadful.

So I'll watch the US versions of Life on Mars and Eleventh Hour and let you know what I think.

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