May contain trace amounts of spoilers. And plot holes.
I’ve just seen Life on Mars. The UK version. Both series in one go.
Oh, boy. Where to start?
I like it and I hate it at the same time.
I love the basic premise. Such a concept! Well done there, no doubt. I really enjoyed the ride.
However, I just cannot stand some things.
First of all, the beginning. The whole idea is that Sam is not sure whether he died, is in a coma, or simply mad. During the series he has hallucinations that imply that he’s, in fact, lying in a hospital, and the whole 1973, A Division, Gene, Ray, Chris, Annie and others are just a dream. Or a nightmare.
He is constantly doubting everything and treats the ‘reality’ he wakes up in as temporary and mirroring his own unconscious.
However, we, the viewers, KNOW THIS ALREADY. We’ve all seen episode one. He IS a police oficer in 2006, he WAS hit by a car, he IS comatose.
We expect him to wake up. And this, of course, happens in the end. Surprised? Not really.
It’s like a bad magician trying to impress us with an egg appearing suddenly in his palm. Only the whole show we were able to spot a bulge in his right sleeve.
How better the series would be if the first scene we see were his waking up in the 70s and rambling about ‘being from the future’? And halucinatory whispers from TV, which are full of medical jargon and ‘Sam, we miss you, wake up’ crap, were being toned down a bit? How about something not so obvious, perhaps?
Secondly, there’s the finale. Seriously? This is the best you could do?
We follow Sam for sixteen episodes during which he constantly expresses his wish to return to the present Manchester, he complains about the gritty era he has to live in and whines about Hunt’s unethical policing methods.
And then, when he gets back, he discovers that he no longer enjoys 2007. He just ‘can’t feel it.’
So, what is the natural thing to do when you’ve come back to you senses after desperately clinging to your life for a year? After you’ve fought the imaginary Test Card F girl (show’s apotheosis of incoming Death) many times and repeated countlessly how you want to go home?
Well, you commit a suicide apparently. In a rather gruesome fashion. Six storeys down from the roof style.
Because events, environments and people you know well ARE JUST A BYPRODUCT OF YOU MIND BEING SUPRESSED INTO SENSORY DEPRIVATION are more interesting and vivid to you than THE TANGIBLE, REAL WORLD.
Because fuck you, common sense, fuck you, logic.
Because apparently, for a few minutes before dying, Sam’s consciousness can seemingly provide him with ANOTHER and CONTINUOUS vision of the same 1973 Manchester.
Because screw you, Sam’s mum. Annie is in danger. Annie who? Oh, you know. Annie. My IMAGINARY GIRLFRIEND.
Because so many people have spent so much time taking care of Sam while he was lying in a comatose state, helpless. Way to thank them for doing their job. Nicely done, dr Morgan. Too bad you patient dies after all. What a waste of NHS money.
Ok, ok, I’m fine now. Breathing deeply.
To sum it up, it was a nice idea, good execution and not so great ending. We’ve all seen worse series in our life, right?
Actually, it GETS MUCH, MUCH WORSE.
I also checked out show’s continuation, Ashes to Ashes.
Abysmal Ashes to Ashes.
They played the religious card. The dreadful mumbo jumbo card.
Gene is a psychopomp. All detectives are dead and as lost souls hang out in some Limbo. Totally Lost type shit.
And the worst abomination of them all. They changed the time period to the Eighties.
Bugger me. I’ve had enough. I’m off.
See ya next time.
PS. It turns out the US version went more SF and it was all a dream of hibernating astronauts. Not sure about that either, although at least it’s not afterlife crap.