Greetings Simm-sons and daughters, today myself and Bad Wolf (my co-conspirator) are going to bring to you the first of 2 breakdowns (as I like to call them) on the wonderful series Life On Mars. The critically acclaimed show is currently being repeated in the UK, and has just finished its initial screening of series 1 in Australia. For those of unfamiliar with the show, this is a great opportunity to get a heads-up on what maybe one of the most controversial shows of this decade.
Controversial? Yes, Life On Mars is a "no holds barred" view on life in the 1970's, in all its politically incorrect glory. It has been highly criticized in the UK tabloids, as well as the US press for obvious reasons. The majority of the critique comes from those sickening prudish people, known as teachers. Apparently they believe the show encourages anti-social behaviour such as the victimisation of minorities. It does not do this at all, it simply portrays that time period as accurately as TV possibly can and for this reason is not aimed at minors.
Now that the introduction is out of the way, the series . . . . . (drum roll).
Episode One: We meet DCI Sam Tyler in 2006, he has a car accident whilst in pursuit of a kidnapper. When Sam awakes, its 1973 and he's only a DI. We meet his new boss Gene Hunt, Ray and the "agreeable" Chris, also the lovely Annie Cartwright. Sam amazingly enough, finds a connection between a murder in 1973 and the kidnapping of his girlfriend in 2006.
Cyberman on Ep 1: I absolutely loved this episode when it premiered, its what got me hooked on the show. I heard about it through the internet, and was intrigued by its premise, so much so that I ordered the DVD as soon as it was available. As an episode I would give this one over all a 9/10, as it captivates the audience from the word go all the way to its conclusion. A stunning pilot episode, one of the most original cop shows in the last 20 years!
Bad Wolf on Ep 1: Well what can i say? this episode was truly brilliant and automatically gets you hooked to the show. The chemistry between Gene and Sam begins in this episode. Overall i would give it a 8/10.
Episode Two: Sam and Gene butt heads over a criminal. Gene wants to plant evidence to convict the criminal, Sam thinks otherwise. A woman gets caught in crossfire, as a result of Trent (the criminal) being released. Sam mops her blood off the street with his jacket, at Genes request.
Cyberman on Ep 2: This episode was very different to what I'd expected from the previous episode. The first episode sets up the storyline, this one fully throws it in your face! We truly discover how things have changed in policing over the last 30 years in this one. Gene simply wants people behind bars, to make the police appear competent, whereas Sam is a sucker for procedure. Truly upfront and a riveting episode from start to finish. Overall I'd give this one an 8/10. I take an additional point off for this one, due to ancillary cast members not fully being utilized. At this stage it is merely the Sam and Gene show with the occasional bit of Annie, but still great viewing.
Bad Wolf on Ep 2: This episode is all about Sam and Gene and modern day policing and 1970's policing. It shows how Sam wants hard-core evidence whereas Gene is prepared to plant evidence on the suspect. Overall i would give this a 8/10.
Episode Three: Sam goes to a textile factory with the team, to investigate a murder. The factory eventually gets turned into apartments, which is where Sam lives in 2006. Genes method of catching the crook, is the first to speak did it. Sam has other ideas, eventually discovering that it is not a murder at all, but a cover-up instead for an industrial accident.
Cyberman on Ep 3: The episode was the clincher for me, it connected the 2 time periods in the most novel of ways. A murder is committed in factory in 73, which is Sam's apartment in 06, brilliant writing Pharaoh & Graham! I give this one a 9/10 as well.
Bad Wolf on Ep 3: This episode has to be one of my favourite of series . It was a brilliant story and I loved some of Gene Hunts funny phrases. Overall I would give this a 9/10 for one brilliant story.
Episode Four: A local nightclub owner and police informant "Stephen Warren", is using stand over tactics and extortion across the city. Gene permits this because Warren keeps the streets clean. Sam won't stand for it and sets out to put Warren away. He is distracted when he runs into his mother as a young woman.
Cyberman on Ep 4: This episode tugged at my heart strings, in a way I had not expected as it covered a subject which is very close to me personally, nightclubs. As I have previously mentioned in this blog, I used to DJ and the scenarios in this are reminiscent of my own experience in the industry. Yes I to, have had the unfortunate experience of coming face-to-face with the underworld, which is something I would not wish on anyone. Aside from this angle, the episode features famous singer (an actor playing him that is) Mark Bollan from 70's super group T-Rex. I give this one 9 as well, as its not perfect but comes very, very close! Also a nice introduction to Sam's mum.
Bad Wolf on Ep 4: This episode highlight has to be meeting Sam Tyler's mum and how easily he is distracted when he meets people who exist in his time period. Overall i would give this one a 7/10 also as it is a quite emotional but good story.
Episode Five: Sam, Gene and Annie go under cover as bartenders to solve a soccer related murder. The team are under very tight time restraints, to solve the crime. There is a big game on Saturday, which they believe will turn into a bloodbath if they don't.
Cyberman on Ep 5: To those of you who aren't sports fans, this is the episode you will like the least. It is very soccer-centric, and I personally don't like sport all. This episodes redeeming feature to me was the fact that it gave us a kind-of history lesson on sports violence, so kudos to kudos for that. I give this episode a 5/10, that's just me though. I imagine BW will differ to me greatly on this one!
Bad Wolf on Ep 5: Well right you are Rob I thoroughly enjoyed this episode as it relates to something I am interested in, football. I thought the overall plot was very interesting as we believe that a city fan has killed a united fan in light of the weekends game. Overall I would give this a 8/10.
Episode Six: In 2006 Sam's life support is about to be switched off, whilst in 1973 a local newspaper is under siege. Sam's flashbacks / daydreams, lead him to believe if he saves the hostages he will save himself. He has to save the hostages by 2.00pm or the hostages will be shot.
Cyberman on Ep 6: Another interesting way of connecting the 2 time periods. This one gives you non-stop action from title to title, Sam's life support is due to be shut off at 2.00pm the same time as the hostages are due to be shot in 73. With all of the wars that have happened in the last 40 years, I am certain everybody will meet someone like this war-vet featured in this at some stage in their life. I give this one a 7/10, I dislike war-vets because their misery is everyone elses fault bar their own!
Bad Wolf on Ep 6: I agree that this story is a very interesting way of connecting the time periods. With Sam's life at stake in both scenarios he realises to save himself in the 2006 he must save himself in 1973. I thought the whole hostage situation was brilliant and great to watch. Overall I would give this a 9.5/10
Episode Seven: Sam leads an investigation into a death in custody, with alarming results. He discovers after digging through a web of deceit, that Ray is the cause. When Sam gives his findings to Gene, Ray gets demoted and Sam finds corruption is deep within the station.
Cyberman on Ep 7: This episode sees Sam and Ray going head-to-head, which is great television. Both of them bum out on their goals, Sam gets Ray demoted but really wants him sacked! Ray wants Sam gone, but ends up becoming lower on the food chain instead. This ones an 8, another near perfect piece, but spoiled slightly by its minimal amount of Gene.
Bad Wolf on Ep 7: Although I found this episode good in parts like the fight between Sam and Ray. It didn't particularly interest me as much as the rest of series 1 did. Overall I would give this a 6/10.
Episode Eight: Sam runs into his father during a murder investigation. It turns out Vic Tyler is involved with the porn industry, which he does behind Sam's mothers' back to pay the bills. Sam unravels what some of his flashbacks / daydreams mean. One of them involves Annie.
Cyberman on Ep 8: Sam's Dad in porn, maximum flashbacks! What more can I say the episodes a 9.5/10 to me.
Bad Wolf on Ep 8: Robs review on this episode basically is what I felt about this episode. The whole "Sam realising why his dad left bit" was brilliant. Overall I'd give this a 9/10 a great end to a great series.