Monday, March 23, 2009

Life on Mars – A Reappraisal

On the 9th of January 2006 at 9pm I like millions of other people sat down to watch the 1st episode of the new BBC drama series, ‘Life on Mars’. By 10pm I was hooked and a fan for life, at least I thought I was.

Thanks to the News of the World and the persistence of certain family members I was able to give the show another viewing, running through both series with some speed. I kinda wish I hadn’t bothered, then I’d still happy memories of enjoying it the first time around.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible show, just not the same one that I remember watching at the time. I remember a 70s cop show with an interesting Sci-fi twist smartly blended in, what I’ve just watched is a 70s cop show with a Sci-fi twist intruding with the subtlety of a painter with hands made of pork.

After a couple of episodes the whole ‘am I in a coma?’ shtick totally runs out of ideas and your left with the same old Vs new conflict to play out again and again. By series 2 it’s become an exercise in treading water with only bright orange inflatable armbands keeping it afloat. When you think about it Sam doesn’t even need to be from the future to achieve the same personality clash between him and Gene. He could just be a more progressive style of police officer then they could have removed all the talking to his television that punctures and slows the quality nostalgia-fest that makes up the rest of the show.

Prior to being picked up by the BBC it had been worked on by Channel 4 who decided not to pursue the idea further because ‘it’s going to be silly’. They were right. It might have worked as a more streamlined 4-6 hour mini series but the premise didn’t have the legs for 16 hour long episodes.