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Life On MarsReview - Life On Mars
Series 1 DVD
by John Simm (Actor)
Acorn Media, 2005
Review by Christian Perring
Sep 8th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 37)

Life on Mars is a BBC series about a Manchester policemen, Sam, who after an accident finds himself in 1973.  He does not know if he has really travelled back in time or if he has gone mad, and neither do we.  The theme of madness crops up regularly, but it is never developed.  It is much more about the difference between 1973 and 2006.  While it shows the police as unsophisticated with extremely primitive technology, it also revels in the era -- its fashions, music, and even its sexism.  This is largely because of the makers of the show pay homage to the cop shows of British TV and movies from the 1970s.  The logic of the show makes no sense, with Sam going back 33 years to when he was 4 years old but in this world he is still 37 but he is visiting the local police force because he has concussion.  He occasionally has glimpses of his old world when he hears doctors and family talking to his comatose self in 2006. 

Despite the articificiality of the premise of the show, it is easy to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the stories.  Sam is agonized due to his confusion and despair about his situation, and 1970s Manchester has plenty of character.  The plots are full of eccentricity and drama, and the tension between the two eras works well.  Sam believes in going by protocol, using evidence to solve a case, and getting input from everyone on the case, irrespective of race and gender, while the 1970s police use violence and intimidation to get results, while making lewd jokes about women all the way through.

The great charm of the show likes in its recreation of the energy of those 1970s series and the lighting, wardrobe and cars of the period.  There are some good DVD extras interviewing people who made the series. Each of the 4 DVD has 2 episodes each, of about 55 minutes. 

 

© 2009 Christian Perring         

         

   

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


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