I wasn't sure whether I was looking forward to this new show or not. I knew it was based on a hit British TV show of the same name, but let's face it, America's been pretty hit or miss with our British remakes recently. (Remember the American Coupling? The first season of The Office?) It was with some trepidation therefore that I sat down to watch the premiere.
The basic premise is a present day cop gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, with a car registered to him, an ID that will expire in 1974 and a job at the same precinct he was working out of in the future. I have to wonder, if I hadn't already known all this from the commercials, would the show have been more interesting. Of course, if the commercials hadn't told me all this, would I have turned it on at all?
While the premise has promise, I found the execution lacking in creativity and at times jarring. Within the first ten minutes I had already accurately predicted several "surprise reveals". (Of course the killer couldn't be in two places at once, he obviously has a twin.) One of which I really could have done without; as the lead character (really, I can't even be bothered to remember his name) starts realizing it might really be 1973 he turns around and gets a stunned look on his face. As the camera slowly pans around for us to see what he sees, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. After all, what NY landmark was there in the '70s that isn't now. Even knowing it was coming, the sight of those towers was jarring.
Most of the '70's cops are unsympathetic and unlikeable. We're supposed to feel some sense of jeopardy for the lead's girlfriend, but we didn't have enough time to get to know her or really care. The premise lends itself to comedic moments, but there were none to be found. The one bright spot was the rockin' '70's music on the soundtrack, Bowie, the Who, Zepplin...they were all represented.
All in all, I found Life on Mars disappointing. I doubt I'll be watching another episode, I'll stick with Ace of Cakes at that time period.
BILL'S BLOG by Bill McCauley
3 weeks ago