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September 16, 2014

Life on Mars: Take a Look at the Lawmen

by Brad Trechak, posted Jan 28th 2009 11:55PM
Life on Mars cast
(S01E08) This show has found a new directive. That directive is: deviate from the original British series as quickly as possible. It was bound to happen. I just didn't think it would happen so soon or to such a large extent.

To begin: WTF??? When we last left Sam Tyler, he was answering a mysterious phone call. Now we have a jump in time out of Lost and he's at the scene of a suicide in mid-attempt. That's page one of sloppy serial storytelling.

Tonight's episode was sort of a Sopranos reunion, what with Johnny Sack taking on the role of Gene Hunt's rival in the police force (and head of the ordinarily non-existent 144th Precinct), Anthony Nunzio (both roles are played by Vincent Curatola). Of course, Michael Imperioli is already a regular on Life on Mars. Over time we may find a lot of Sopranos alums making their way to 1973 New York. How soon before James Gandolfini makes an appearance?

I believe the reason for the jump in time (pun intended) from the phone call is that they're trying to make the episodes more self-contained so new viewers can start watching more easily. Notice that this episode didn't so much concentrate on a way out of Sam's predicament so much as telling a crime story. Sam is also starting to accept the situation he is in (as evidenced by the fact that he finally got some for the first time in years, or rather in years to come). Ironically, by doing so he put himself in an even more uncomfortable relationship with Gene Hunt, whose old-fashioned values will undoubtedly come back to haunt him.

Another digression from the original show: Harvey Keitel's Gene Hunt is divorced with three grown children while Philip Glenister's version is, to the best of my knowledge, still married with no kids.

I don't know what Harvey Keitel was taking during the break, but I should get some of that. He looked younger. His hair looked darker. His performance and character was much stronger. He figured out exactly the sort of cop Gene Hunt is supposed to be. Obviously, someone at ABC was reading my complaints about his portrayal in the first seven episodes.

Why does Gene Hunt's daughter have a different last name than him? It didn't sound like his ex-wife's last name either. I presume therefore that Maria Belanger is either divorced or cheating on her husband.

The more I watch the show, the more I'm convinced that Sam did not, in fact, travel back in time to the 70's. He's in a coma and stuck in a police television drama from the era. That's the only logical explanation for the silly dialogue and the weird situations that no cop in real life would ever get in. A gang fight against the Russian mob? A attempt at "reverse psychology" with a man standing on a ledge? It strains my suspension of disbelief to the point of thinking of the show as fantasy.

Admittedly, I laughed out loud at the suicide scene. I'm sick that way.

The bromance between Hunt and Nunzio was kind of funny too.

The soundtrack to the show remains awesome.

So what did you think? See you next week.

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iamored8907

Does anyone know if abc mixed up the episodes on purpose or if it was just an accident? I remember reading that this once happend to grey's anatomy (canada aired the third season 9 episode of it when it was supposed to be the 8th or something like that.)

So it looks like this show will be ending this year, since the ratings were disasterous. So sad, it was actually the best episode yet

January 30 2009 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cdawg

We picked up on the last of continuity as well, but if its for the sake of picking up more fans, I'm down. I did miss the mythology. And I definitely miss the riff of the Bowie song they used to play in the first few episodes.

Regardless, that sex scene was so hot. I'm now in a tie over who is sexier - Michael Westin from Burn Notice or Sam Tyler from Life on Mars.

We watch because we love the music from the era

January 30 2009 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

I'm pretty sure that when Annie and Hunt's daughter were talking at the water fountain, Annie said she was sorry to hear that she had split up with so-and-so, presumably the husband who gave her the different last name.

January 29 2009 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

But, it wasn't like a straight up cop show, unless you're talking about Starsky and Hutch.

I'll say right up front, I was a HUGE fan of the BBC series. I was excited when I heard ABC was going to do it here, and with Jason O'Mara, who is really good. But, I stopped watching after 3 episodes. The BBC show was dark and intriguing. Sam was really tortured. This ABC show is just a light lark. It was like a parody of the original. It's closer to Psych than Life. I happened to catch last night's because I watched Lost and taped Top Chef. I thought maybe enough time had passed, and it would be on to more original stuff. (I couldn't watch The Office on NBC until Season two)

I wish I didn't know the BBC Gene, because Keitel is just not menacing and, truly, not of that 70s era. The Russian mob should have been scary. They'd have gone and killed that guy's family after the melee. Instead, yeah, like a Batman fight. Staged and stupid. I did laugh at the end, when I realized Maria was Gene's daughter, mainly because Imperioli is such a freak. But, this show is just not worth getting invested. And, it's a shame.

January 29 2009 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kermit

Then fight at the bath house reminded me of the old batman tv series without the captions....lousy episode....too much like a straight up crime show.....

January 29 2009 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

Is it just me, or is it really, really stupid to ditch the mythology elements of thet show on the first night you they aired after LOST? I really don't think the "straight cop show" side of LoM is going to appeal to a lot of LOST viewers. The only thing that made it a reasonable fit was the idea that they were going to deviate from the British version and build a deeper mythology behind the show.

I didn't see any of that present in this episode.

January 29 2009 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

I enjoy this show when I see it, mostly for its quirkiness and its blatently corny in-jokes. But I cancelled the season pass on my Tivo a long time ago. I just happened to see it tonight. Its a good show, but there is nothing about it that makes me want to tune in again to see what happens to these people. But there quite a group aren't they?

January 29 2009 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brent

^ You serious? How could that have happened?

Anyways, if that's true: semi-save, otherwise yeah... how the eff could they continue the series without talking about the ending of the last episode? I love this show but tonight was just soooo slow. Now that I know they have strayed away from the original series, I can download it and not have anything ruined, I presume.

January 29 2009 at 12:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

ABC aired (S01E11) "Take a Look at the Lawmen" tonight, the correct episode should of been (S01E08) "The Dark Side Of The Mook" . I really hate when put stuff out of sequence (Like Fox did with Firefly!!!)

January 29 2009 at 12:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David's comment
aaron

I guess ABC was playing it safe b/c it has been gone for awhile (since late November, right?) and they want more viewers (the remaining Lost viewers), so they use an episode that don't confuse new viewers. One of many reasons why I can't stand networks...

January 29 2009 at 1:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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