Life on Mars, a gem of a TV series, made a whistle stop on BBC America and left the station before we could all hop on and enjoy the whole ride. No word about airing the second, final, season. It’s not the first time BBC America disappoints and it won’t be the last. Some shows, like this one, are trimmed for program time slots. It was shown in its entirety in the UK, so we can plausibly buy a copy of both seasons. A simple DVD transfer from Region 2 to Region 1 and we’re ready to look at Life on Mars.
The show, titled to connect with David Bowie’s Life On Mars, opens in present day (2006) Manchester, England. Chief Inspector, Sam Tyler (John Simms), is pursuing a case when he’s run down by a car. Tyler loses consciousness, briefly. When he comes to he’s ensconced in Manchester, 1973. He’s still a cop, though, lower in rank, and struggles with all things faced by anyone going back in time. Viewers of the first season have eight episodes to ride along with Sam, watch him interact with “new” colleagues, resolve cases with antiquated forensics, and attempt to solve the big mystery. Where in the world is he?
Whether Tyler is really in 2006 or 1973 is answered in the final season. The cryptic clues lead us in several directions. I know how it all turned out, since I read all of season two’s episode summaries and interviews with VIP’s connected with the series. A viewing of the missing episodes, still, would take me along for the rest of the ride. I’d want to watch the series from beginning to end, actually, and catch the material that was edited out of BBC America’s programming.
Bowie’s Life On Mars connects Tyler to both time frames. It’s playing when he’s mowed down, playing when he wakes, and is featured during other moments in the series. I’d like to be with Sam, if only to rewind with the many British pop songs played throughout the series. I love that stuff. Sam is adorable, but he’s so distracted. Actually, most of Sam’s colleagues at the precinct are very engaging, Inspector Gene Hunt (Phillip Glenister), Constable Annie Cartwright (Liz White), DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), and DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews).
If the American fans make enough noise, perhaps BBC America will release pristine copies of the dvd so we can see what we missed. Word has it that the story will continue. A jump to the 80s, a retitle to “Ashes to Ashes” (another Bowie tie-in), and Inspector Gene Hunt at the helm.
For those who won’t wait for the improbable, there’s the cd soundtrack. Many tunes failed to make the cut, but cheer for the ones that did. Artists include: David Bowie, Paul McCartney & Wings, Roxy Music, ELO, T. Rex, Free, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Faces, Thin Lizzie, and Uriah Heep.