Life on Mars Review (US) Series Premiere C-

Life on Mars (US)

Many of you that have followed our coverage of Life on Mars already know IGP’s feelings on this new re-make, but we had to at least give it a chance and see if it had made any improvements over the ghastly pilot they had previously done.

Our thoughts?

Well, overall, it was an improvement. New York is definitely a better choice for a location than LA. However, a smaller city might’ve been an even better choice. There’s a reason why Gene Hunt in the UK Life on Mars is the sheriff of Manchester and not London, and that’s because there’s a lot of things that he can get away with in Manchester but not in London. They kept the jeep line which we did like. And I also liked having Sam's boss be shown, as a hint of episodes to come. We liked the shot of him looking in awe up at the twin towers as he realizes what’s happened. We also applaud them for bringing back Chris and Ray. Chris especially brought much needed humour to the show. And Jason O’Mara, while I still don’t think he’s any John Simm, has clearly made a much bigger effort to play the character this time around.

So now the cons:

Well, the 2008 portion of the show was a little cop chase-y for starters. We’re gonna see all that down and dirty stuff when we get to 1973, why waste it here? Look at all the procedural shows nowadays, CSI, Law and Order, that’s what police work is about now, and that’s what Sam is able to bring to the table. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come across like that on this show. And the end! Why have a show that’s at times shot for shot like the UK series, and then they do such an awful ending? So Sam was going to kill the child Colin? There’s no way in a million years that Sam would’ve considered doing that. Also, I was saddened that we lost out on the whole Sam standing on the ledge scene. While I realize that this show will probably take a drastic turn from the UK Life on Mars, that ledge scene, as anybody whose watched the UK series knows, has a perfect bookend ledge scene in the final episode, so to see them take it away in place of what seems like the easy answer, Sam going to see Colin, just doesn’t really work. Especially when they cut out a brilliant scene between Gene and Sam where Sam realizes that Colin was never the killer in the future, it was actually the guy they had just put away. He would most likely be sent to a psychiatric ward and be let out in 30 years (to kill again) leaving Sam with a dilemma of whether or not to get rid of evidence to save Maya. That brilliant scene ended with Gene saying “welcome to the team”.

And I suppose while we’re talking about Gene Hunt, is Keitel up to the job? Harvey Keitel is a great actor, no doubt about it, but neither of the shows stars has really found the humour in the dialogue. It’s coming out, a little bit, with O’Mara, but Keitel… if Gene Hunt is a lovable bastard; so far Keital has only managed the “bastard” part of the equation. As for the relationship between him and Sam, strangely they spent more time setting up the relationship between Sam and Annie, rather than Sam and Gene. The part where Sam and Gene leap over the table would’ve been a lot funnier and, well, just felt right, if there had been much of a build up in their relationship, however as it is, it just looked odd.


Most of the pieces are here, but they definitely do not fit. Do yourself a favour and see the BBC Life on Mars.

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