Life on Mars

I’ve started watching 2006 BBC series Life on Mars and I’m currently up to episode four of the first season. What a hoot! This is an OK cop show spiced up by the motifs of time travel and 1970s racist, sexist, and most other -ists British culture.

(Note: this is not the crap 2008 US re-make.)

The overview, for those who have been living under a rock for the last couple of years is this:

After being involved in a car accident in 2006, DCI Sam Tyler wakes up to find himself in 1973, the era of ‘Sweeney’ type policing, Mark III Cortinas, and flared trousers.

Instead of solving cases using the forensic technique and high-tech gas chromatography and PCI machines we’re used to from such crap as CSI, Tyler needs to get used to the policing methods of 1973 Manchester – ie: smacking a suspect around until he confesses and then heading down to the pub to drink and smoke and pinch the WPCs on the ass. For example, the idea that a WPC who studied psychology at university could have anything to add when trying to work out a grub’s motive for committing a crime is laughable to these coppers (except Sam, of course – cue love interest).

But would the show be any good if it were just a cop show set in 1973? Would it be worth watching if it didn’t have the time travelling character of Sam Tyler? Probably not. Tyler’s struggle to work out whether he’s in a coma, dreaming or insane is not a major part of the show but it serves to ground the over-the-top (and dead accurate from my memories) portrayal of the period. Occasionally, voices from what we presume is Sam’s beside in the hospital in 2006 intrude on his waking reality. Occasionally, the girl from the BBC test pattern steps out of the frame to give him advice.

It’s a dead cool program and well worth a look.

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