When we're not running TPM or raising our two kids, my wife and I spend a lot of what leisure time we have in the evenings watching a few key TV series we like. Most are either reality TV competition shows (don't ask) or so-called 'police procedurals'. I used to be a big fan of Dexter
. But I feel like it's sort of losing me this season. Same with Heroes
we've checked out a lot of the new series this season. But the one that's really got me is Life on Mars
, only I'm not completely sure why.
From some googling around a few moments ago, I just found out that the show is based on a show by the same name
that runs on the BBC.
The premise is pretty straightforward. Late thirties New York City cop gets near fatal (perhaps actually fatal?) knock to the head and through the magic of ridiculous TV Show premises he's transported back in time to 1973 where he's thrust back into his own life, only 35 years earlier. Since he was raised in New York, he starts running into younger versions of people from his own life - even himself eventually. And of course much of the meat of the plotlines -- aside from the general, 'hey, look, everybody's dressing like it's 1973' -- centers around the culture clash between 2008 and 1973 methods of policing.
The entire series is shot in a sort of yellowish, sienna tone. I was alive in 1973. And I don't remember things being any yellower. But somehow it works to set the period stage.
For some reason it's got me kind of hooked. But I'm not sure completely why. The cast is good -- Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos
, Gretchen Mol. The lead is played by Jason O'Mara, who's great. But I've never heard of him before.
One key to the show is that it manages to avoid the obvious cliches of going back in time to 1973. How it avoids them I'm not sure, because it's also full of them. They're everywhere. But the writing and character-development must be strong enough to make the characters come to life. Also key is Jason O'Mara playing Sam Tyler. I think what draws me in is the tension at the center of his character, at once going native as a denizen of New York circa 1973 but with an undertone of complete disbelief in the life he's leading and subtext of absurdist humor. The as-yet-unexplained super small martian lander robots that make brief appearances and on at least one occasion escaped into his ear help sustain that latter strain.
Have you watched it? You like it? No? Why do you think it works?