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Life on Mars

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*Big time spoilers read at your own risk*

I am a sucker for time traveling. If there is some sort of time displacement story involved I will watch the movie, read the book, or devour an entire season of anything. From Billy and Ted to Lost, to Quantum Leap, and Donnie Darko. I love a good Time traveling TV series. And we are lacking serialized time traveling. Lost made it awesome this year with season 5. But it is a shame that sci fi shows like this end up getting canceled.

Life on Mars is one of these shows, originaly a BBC series that did very well on the UK eventually spawning a 2nd series based on the same universe. ABC “ported” it to the USA where it ran for one season only. Fortunately writers of this kind of shows tend to like giving their series some kind of closure and everything was nicely wrapped in the end.

The story follows Sam Tyler a New York city cop in 2008 who gets ran over by a car and wakes up in New York in 1973. Inexplicably there he has an apartment ready for him and a job as a detective transferring from a place called Hyde. There he works under the L.T. Gene Hunt, a rough sort of old school cop trying to keep order in the city, but who doesn’t care much about police procedures and professionalism, in a way Sam is used to from living the job in 2008. He also works alone side fellow detectives Ray Carling and Chris Skelton. Ray is the macho anti-feminist cop and Chris place the rookie Jr detective. And there it also policewomen Annie Norris who plays the independent woman of the 70s trying to make it in a world exclusive for men.

Each week Sam takes on a different case where he uses his modern detective skills to help him solve the mysteries. While most of the cases have some sort of connection to his future life. Other give him glimpse and clues from the future, like visions of modern events, robots and space gadgets. And of course like any time traveling story worthwhile there are the interconnections with Sam’s own past. He eventually meets his mother and helps her while investigating his father realizing that his was a criminal, and the reason why he left his wife and kid when Sam was young. (He actually uses the name Luke Skywalker as to conceal his real name to his parents).

The final episode wraps everything up, kind of in a rush, but gives answers to everything in a way. Sam’s dad kidnaps him and tries to kill him even knowing that somehow this is his kid from the future. The whole conflict is really about Sam’s issues with his father, the 2 father-like figures in Sam’s world are in a sort of race for Sam’s life. One one side is the criminal and evil dad who Sam resents for leaving him since he was little. And on the other side is Gene Hunt, who acts as a harsh but fair protector of Sam. The sort of father Sam kinda wished he had. In the end Gene kills Sam’s dad before he has a chance to kill Sam, winning over Sam’s life.

The big reveal comes at the end, Sam is standing at the edge of a rooftop convinced that it is the only way home. Annie tries to talk him out of it, but Sam convinces her and they both jump and the reveal comes to us. Turns out everything was a computer generated dream. Sam wakes up in a spaceship on the first maned mission to mars. Turns out there was a computer malfunction that the scenario Sam had chosen was corrupted and to avoid a fatality the computer had to reset the fantasy. Everyone Sam worked with turns out to be astronauts on the spaceship. Including Gene, who turns out to be Sam’s actual dad. Hyde turns out to be the name of the ship, and 2b, Sam’s apartment is actually the number on the pod Sam was sleeping.

The whole “it was all just a dream” is a pretty weak as far as plot lines go, and has used many times. But understandably it had to be done, and it wraps up nicely with all the hints delivered during the show. The vision of space rovers, robots, and the constant hint of Sam and spaceships. So in the end we getting everything tied up in a bow and conveniently delivered to us.

The show is worth watching it, the music is excellent and representative of the times. And the acting is all around very good. While the ending is not the most imaginative one it answers all questions, and doesn’t really leave us with questions and unsatisfied. Definitely worth a rental, or at least a few nights of bittorent if that is your thing.


Written by geminiman

June 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm