Friday, November 10, 2006

Take A Look At The Lawman...

Man, I've got a TiVo full of stuff I'm way behind on watching, but at least I've finally finished the first season of Life on Mars. I think I can really recommend this one; it may not be one of those programs that spurs an obsessive interest from me, but it's definitely worthwhile. The premise is that a modern-day police detective, Sam Tyler, is in a car accident and inexplicably wakes up in the year 1973. Except it appears that he is simultaneously (or actually?) in a coma back in 2006, as he can occasionally hear doctors talking around his bedside and the sound of life-support machinery, as well as other odd things. The result is a show that works on a number of different levels: There's the over-arching mystery of exactly what the heck is going on here, how real it is, and what Sam ought to do about it, and then there's a sort of cop-story-of-the-week format overlaid on top of that. There's also some interesting culture-clash stuff about the differences between 1970s and 2000s policing environments, some moments of real emotional poignancy (especially when Sam encounters faces from his own past), and a dry, witty British sense of humor. What really makes the show, though, are the sometimes absolutely hysterical interactions between Sam and his thuggish 1973 police captain, who is one of those wonderful, uniquely British characters who are so unlikeable that they emerge straight out the other side and into likeability again. Oh, and there's some great classic rock on the soundtrack, which is definitely a bonus in my book.

By the way, I was lucky enough to get my hands on the full hour-length episodes that were shown in the UK. I understand that they were chopped down immensely for airing on BBC America, and it makes me cringe to think how badly they must have been butchered to make room for a full complement of American commercials. If you're in the US and interested in catching this one, I strongly recommend seeking out the uncut versions.

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