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Life On Mars: Series 1 (UK)
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The time-warping detective drama seen on BBC America
Dreaming, delusional, or displaced in time? Police detective Sam Tyler (John Simm, State of Play) must decide which describes him in this intriguing twist on the police procedural that has won two International Emmys® and rave reviews from critics and fans.
Hot on a killer’s trail in modern-day Manchester, Tyler gets struck by a passing car and wakes up in 1973. The high-tech tools and respect for proper procedure have vanished. Instead, he finds himself working on a homicide squad where hard drinking replaces hard thinking. Forensics takes weeks to analyze, and his boss, DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, Clocking Off), has no qualms about roughing up suspects—or Sam himself. Still, Tyler has real-world crimes to solve, even as strange voices call him back to his 21st century life. But when he bonds with sympathetic policewoman Annie Cartwright (Liz White, The Fixer), Sam wonders: does he really want to return?
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Top Customer Reviews
Note this is on a Sony BDP-S560 with latest update (v11).
While the reviewer tries to make this seem like scifi/crime series; it's hour long crime stories told from the point of view of a DCD in a coma who has returned to 1973 in his mind. Each story is complete in itself. More interesting than the internal angst of the DCI "stuck in time' is the relationship between himself and the team of detectives he's suddenly working with/for. He's now a DI under a DCI who sees himself as Clint Eastwood in Spegetti westerns. He has aggressive/heroic/ violent mindset. It's hard for our hero to adjust to him and head a team who know nothing of modern crime techniques, e.g. it takes weeks to get crime scene data or a PM result, therefore the police of the 70's 'go by their gut' and 'fit up a villian' if they think he's guilty.
The sociological aspects are facinating since I lived throught the 70's and thought of cops as 'pigs'. I can't, however, believe our hero likes T-Rex. If you remember the era, you'll love the music (most of it) that includes Uriah Heap and Roger Whittiker to show the far range the music travels.
Besides internal conflict of the hero with the scific implications of time travel, this series provides stong 'male bonding' and conflict between the hero and his team as well as their policing policies. Besides, our hero keeps reading the suspect the 'wrong' rights, and continually is corrected. There are humorous moments through out the interactions.
Most of all this series provides darn good Britsh crime drama. It's complicated and interesting. All aspects of the writing is well done, i.e. good scripts. It's the first series since George Gently where the cops are lovable and human and solve novel crime stories with a twist. Highly reccommended. Do I have to add there's a love interst/complication with a young PC in 1973.
It contains action and a little bit of comedy thrown in for good measure!!
Yeah to the Brits for another great show!!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you happen to have seen the US series please give this version a chance as well. While the premise is the same they are very different in tone. The original UK series is grittier and the 1970's Sam finds himself in is much more politically incorrect adding a bit more conflict and spice to the series. Sam and Gene's relationship is also more of a buddy cop type compared to the father/son type relationship you get from the US version. Even the ending is completely different and in my opinion much more emotionally satisfying than the US one. The UK series is really one of a kind and should not be missed.
Note: This DVD only has the first 8 episodes of the series. The DVD with the final 8 episodes will be coming out sometime in 2010.
Philip Glenister plays DCI Gene Hunt, Sam's new boss in 1973. He's crass, foul-mouthed, sexist, bigotted, and has an insult for everyone. He's also corrupt, but he's not the bad guy...everything is shades of grey.
Life On Mars is a fascinating show. On one level it's a cop drama, but there are a lot more levels underneath it. Add to that a fantastic soundtrack, and it's a show you will watch over and over again.
Our first glimpse of DCI Sam Tyler isn't very promising. He's coolly efficient at his job, but doesn't seem to derive anything more than a grim satisfaction from it. He's dating a subordinate, which tells you everything you need to know about his social life.
Then he is thrust into a bizarre situation: after a near-fatal car accident, he finds himself in 1973. Why 1973? He doesn't know. Complicating Sam's already impossible situation is that some of his senses (especially sight and touch) indicate that he is in 1973, while others (especailly hearing) indicate that he is lying comatose in a 2006 hospital bed.
Lost, confused, and frightened, Sam attempts to work out what has happened to him... and how to get home to 2006. If he can't trust his memories or the evidence of his own senses, what can he trust?
Very slowly, Sam begins to change. He smiles. He rediscovers and reconnects with what he's lost--a family cat, football matches, then his mother and father. We see that 1973 Manchester is, economically, a much bleaker place than 2006 Manchester... but it's also warmer, more organic, all earth tones in contrast to sleekly modern 2006, which is filmed in cool blues and greys. Sam's 1973 bedsit is hideous, a garish riot of oranges and browns, but it's also more lived-in than his spotless white-and-chrome 2006 flat. But 1973 isn't a lost paradise, either; "Life on Mars" doesn't hide 1973's flaws or film it through a rose-coloured camera lens. It shows us what we have gained, and what we have lost along the way. We see that the reforms in policing that stifled Sam and his colleagues in 2006 are a direct reaction to the police abuses Sam sees in 1973.
Sam's 2006 knowledge and sensibilities are both boon and liability. He's had a thorough grounding in criminal psychology and modern forensics, and he's extremely well-acquainted with drug crime, which is only just beginning in 1973. But he never seems to realize the extent to which casual racism and sexism affect life in 1973. He treats WPC Annie Cartwright, the lone woman in the department, as an equal--which she appreciates--but doesn't understand why everyone else doesn't. He sees in her a talented cop being underused; he's right, of course, but he thinks that all he needs to do to further her integration into CID is to draw attention to her abilities. To no one's surprise except Sam's--certainly not Annie's--the men react with undisguised contempt.
It's this sort of subtle contrast between 1973 and 2006--the weaknesses inherent in being from the future, as well as the strengths--that really set "Life on Mars" apart.
This is NOT a short season. In Great Britain, seasons are 8 shows. If you watched it on BBC, you waited a year to see the next season. Doctor Who is the only current British show to have 13 episodes (like an American season). You end up with 16 total episodes, each a year apart.
As for PRICE: a full season of Doctor Who is between $65 and $75 per 13 episode season, so the price is absolutely in line with that. Judging the British counterpart by its American (failure) is a really poor idea by someone who doesn't *know* anything about the British season and has now artificially lowered the rating of this superior British piece.
BBC's Life on Mars was amazing as it came out. It really ignited my imagination. John Simms gives a stellar performance. If you like the American series, the British series is much tighter, has better symbolism, reminds viewers that the past is different than the present, and it puts into perspective modern detective work as it's performed without CSI and million-dollar-crime labs.
Another BBC show that's trumped its American re-shoot.
The gem here is Sam's interaction with DCI Gene Hunt as they come head to head over policing. Sam brings the modern analytical methods where as Gene bashes heads mainly and relies on his instincts. With a solid set of supporting characters the show has kept me well enteretained.
This DVD is the first of two seasons. The show is now continueing into a sequel called Ashes to Ashes, minus John Simm. And they are also in the works with an American version.
I would recommend this show anyone.
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