Yeah, that’s not at all subtle, writers, using the last name “Bono” as Sam’s undercover alias as an Irish hoodlum… *snicker*
Rose Tyler’s back. I…yeah, so not keeping a straight face at that one either. If that name really was a coincidental choice, well, that’s one hell of a coincidence then, given exactly what having a character named that implies in the grand scheme of this show. Not to mention the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimeyness of what’s going on.
Starts off with the song “Satellite of Love”. I love that song.
*sigh* Chris is always the woobie, isn’t he?
Windy, go away. You make me miss Nelson more and more every time I see you on screen. The idea’s good, but I keep finding flaws in the execution.
*perks up* Agent Morgan? As in Frank Morgan? We’re winding down to the end here, aren’t we? *braces self for menace and existential crises*
You know, the Huntlandia joke is even funnier given certain revelations from the third season of Ashes to Ashes.
Wizard of Oz and robot references everywhere this episode. The tiny nanobots that are there to search out the soul are really pushing the bounds of plausibility. That was one of the things that I liked about the original show – although the series as a whole would qualify as magical realism, the ground…
Jumping off a building to go home? Thank goodness they didn’t take that option here. *whistles innocently*
*cough* Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, the original series was so grounded in the dirty reality of 1973 that the magical elements just added to the series, not distracting.
Okay, why the hell are you bringing in elements from the very first episode of the original Life on Mars now at the penultimate episode of the U.S. series? And why did you wait until now to bring up the relationship between Sam and Annie? Even though I knew it was coming/had to come if they were following the original plan, it still sort of came out of nowhere. That’s iffy plotting for me.
Rose Tyler’s back again! I actually like that she’s been brought back so many times. She (or her equivalent character Ruth) only had two appearances in the original series, which I enjoyed and made me want to see more of Sam’s family in the past. So I like that they’re giving me that with this series. And she just said “Look at those cavemen go.” *snigger* Title drop, anyone?
Gene Hunt’s talking about the 125 being one big happy ass-kicking family. Knowing what I know about the WTF ending coming up makes that line even funnier (however, leads to some squicky thoughts about events that happened a few episodes earlier involving Hunt’s daughter Maria *shudder*).
“You sure you’re a cop? ‘Cause you look like an astronaut.” Why does that feel like trying to shoehorn symbolism in?
Hallelujah, Annie finally got her promotion!
That’s an awfully philosophical speech coming from you, Ray…
“Why does it always come back to David Bowie?” *snerrrrrk*
So is Windy like a benevolent version of the Test Card girl?
“Welcome to 1973.” Why, why, why couldn’t you have just ended it right there? *throws arms up in frustration*
“It’s the freakiest show, Spaceman.” No kidding… *sigh* Culminating in the world’s worst pun.
I think I’ve managed to pinpoint why I don’t like the ending – it feels like a cop-out to me (pardon the pun). The U.S. series, like the original, does raise some interesting questions about how to define life, how do we know we’re living, what happens when we find ourselves someplace strange that we really can’t explain within the limits of human knowledge. And yet, while the U.K. version took these questions to a controversial, but appropriate conclusion (I won’t spoil that ending here because I think everyone needs to watch the original series, but suffice to say it was a risky one that I loved, but I know that a lot of people didn’t like as well) that fit in with the way they had set the series up, the U.S. version skipped that. They didn’t at all try to answer the questions and instead stated that the whole 2008 to 1973 trip was due to a faulty memory simulation designed to pass the time on the first manned trip to Mars. Maybe if they had set that up better, had shown something more than just little hallucinations of mini rovers going around this idea would have worked. However, upon watching the entire series end to end, the Mars Mission ending feels increasingly forced and out of place. The writers did leave the clues throughout the episodes, so a viewer should have an idea of what could possibly be coming, but I’m not sure if it was the right choice. I almost wish they would have continued the series so that they could write themselves out of that ending.
I think they miscast the role of Gene Hunt in the show as well. The character of Gene Hunt needs to be an intimidating presence, one that’s slightly past his prime but amazingly larger than life (this is especially true after revelations from the final series of Ashes to Ashes). Harvey Keitel, while a fantastic actor who did the role justice, may not have been the right visual for the role. Gene Hunt needs to be massive in personality and use that intimidating presence. In this series he seems to be dwarfed by the other cops around him. And for me, that doesn’t ring true to the way the character was created.
What I also don’t like is that since the entire thing was a computer program, for lack of a better term, it means that none of the characters as we know them, Sam Tyler, Gene Hunt, Annie Norris (Cartwright in the original), Chris Skelton, Ray Carling, so on and so forth, were really real. Those characters as we know them were just figments of the imagination, and while as a viewer I still cared about them, it does lessen the impact a bit knowing that nothing really bad could happen to them. This was also my fear with the third and final series of Ashes to Ashes. The creators had promised us answers in that series, and I remembered biting my lips and crossing my fingers so hard that they wouldn’t pull an ending that basically made none of the characters real and kept them as ‘imaginary constructs’, in the words of Alex Drake. To my utter happiness, they did not take that route to end the series. With that ending we got the answers we wanted, plenty of bittersweetness to go around, and the reassurance that yes, these characters were real. In some form or another they existed and were alive, which made all the difference to me as a viewer.
Was that cryptic enough for you? If you want to know more, go watch the two series from the U.K. They’re some of my favorites, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Now, that all being said – I actually do think that the U.S. run of Life on Mars is worth a watch! I had a lot of fun with the episodes and would definitely re-watch them. They kept the same mix of crime-fighting and semi sci-fi that the original had, and the show’s got a hell of a soundtrack, between the rock songs used and the almost bad cop show/porn flick incidental music at other times. The characters are fun, and half the time you do want to thwack them upside the head (especially Ray). Part of me would have loved to hear the Beastie Boys Sabotage playing at some point, but that’s just because of the music video. I think if I had seen this version first, before the U.K. version, I would have really fallen in love with it.
I also felt that there was something really relatable about the setting. To be fair, the show takes place nine years before I was even born. No matter where I go in my life, however, I do trace my roots back to NYC, the old hometown (as my birth certificate will prove), and this is the NYC of my parents’ generation. It’s funny, but I could imagine them walking down the street going to school or going out at night while watching this show. So I like that. My father would probably pay good money for many of the cars on the screen. And the houses and buildings on the street in NYC still look the same, even thirty-eight years later. There’s something familiar and alien about the city all at the same time, which is what I think the creators of the show were going for.
So in conclusion, Life on Mars, U.S. version, is worth a watch. It’s fun, lighthearted entertainment with just enough of an edge and a twist to make it different. Is it as good as the original? No, but it’s a good show in its own right and deserves props for that. If you want to pretend that the last few minutes of the finale didn’t happen, however, please feel free.
P.S. – watching the deleted scenes with Windy makes me like her better. I almost feel like the relationship between Windy and Sam could be a show or a book in itself. Which makes me want to write it. Hmm, I may have to think on a way to take that relationship dynamic and put it into an original piece.