Life on Mars: Take a Look at the Lawmen
by Brad Trechak, posted Jan 28th 2009 11:55PM
(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.