Life On Mars: Series One

Life On Mars: Series One
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Tyler (John Simm) is in one hell of a pickle. One day it's 2006 and he's on the hunt for a serial killer who's nabbed his steady and then wham!, he's hit by a car and all of a sudden wakes up in 1973. Sam isn't sure if he's dreaming, in a coma, dead or heaven help him, been transported back in time somehow. One thing he does know is that he's no longer in Kansas. Informed that he's a Detective Inspector in Manchester, he's assigned to DCI Gene Hunt (the scene-stealing Philip Glenister), a crusty, politically incorrect SOB whose by-any-means-necessary way of policing is almost as shocking as his bellbottoms. Sam quickly learns that he has to police minus the modern practices that previously guided him — forensics takes two weeks for results, bribes help pay the bills and sexual harassment is, well, just part of everyday life on the force. But Sam isn't completely without hope. Every now and then he hears voices — his mother, a doctor — suggesting he's actually trapped on life-support in a hospital. Cast as brilliantly as it's scripted, Life On Mars is a breath of fresh air: a serialized, suspenseful cop show devoid of over-explaining the crime with flashy CGI and intense electronica scores — musically here it's all about T-Rex, Roxy Music and of course, Bowie. And while it may have the sci-fi spin that plagues every crime series of the moment (i.e., Medium, Fringe), the writers know how to sell it by making it all part of Sam's internal psychological crisis. Think Starsky & Hutch get Lost. There's a reason why the U.S. remake didn't stick and that's because it could never live up to the original. In a worthwhile two-part look behind the show the creators discuss how the title was originally Ford Grenada (a nod to '70s series The Sweeney), that the influence of Get Carter inspired them to take it back to that era and how casting Sam Tyler was the most difficult part of making the series. (Warner)