Saturday, January 14, 2006


Life on Mars

This will be a rather pointless post, but how many of mine aren't, really? If you're living in the UK, you've likely already heard of this show, and probably seen it and/or formed your own opinion. If you're living outside the UK, like me, you'll likely not be able to see it, unless you resort to some sort of P2P hinkiness (I admit nothing). But the world is dying to know my opinion on everything that passes in front of my eyes (Right? Right?), so here it is.

Allison and I watched the premier episode of the 8-part BBC drama Life on Mars last night. From the makers of the very excellent Spooks (released in the States under the title MI5), Life on Mars is the story of a police detective in 2006 Manchester who, after being hit by a car, wakes up in 1973. (The title is drawn from the David Bowie song that's playing on his iPod in 2006, and playing on his car's eight-track player in 1973.) In the past, he's a police detective with a past, a flat, and a badge (though a lower rank), recently transferred to a new station. The character makes the natural assumption that he's in some sort of coma-induced hallucination, but his circumstances give just enough evidence to suspect that he might actually be in the past.

But the time travel (or not) aspect of the story is really just an excuse to present a compelling collision between contemporary CSI-style police procedural with a more muscular, skinned-knuckles, damn-the-regs police work of an earlier era. There's some implicit commentary about sexism and the like, naturally, but it's not over-played. The performances are top-notch, and the writing is spotless.

With any luck, it'll be available on DVD in the States before too long. I suppose it could be picked up by an American network, but the odds aren't good. Am I the only one who'd pay real money to get the full BBC channels on satellite or cable in the States, and not just the weak-tea that is BBC America (which seems to be just a dumping ground for home improvement and gardening shows, spiced conservatively with the occasional mystery program or aged sitcom)?

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