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October 10, 2008

Life on Mars

Lifeonmars So, I really haven't been watching the new shows this season, but last night I checked out the pilot of Life on Mars. The beginning wasn't promising — yet another NYC cop chasing a serial killer, who somehow manages to abduct the cop's girlfriend (Lisa Bonet!), even though she's also a detective and presumably trained in self-defense. Anyhow, the detective is so upset he ends up walking into the street and getting mowed down by a car, and when he wakes up he's dressed like the uncool teacher in The Breakfast Club, all bell bottoms and wide lapels. The intact towers of the WTC loom above him. No, it's not 1998 — it's 1973.

Before you folks who get BBC America point this out, yes, I know this is practically a shot for shot remake of a cult U.K. series set in Manchester (minus the WTC, obviously). Judging from this clip, the guy who starred in it is a better actor than Jason O'Mara, who plays the role in the American version. I immediately tried to Netflix the original, only to find it exists solely in Region 2 DVD format. This is exactly the kind of situation that encourages illegal downloading. (Er, not that I would resort to that, naturally!)

Anyway, as someone who remembers the funky, pre-Giuliani Manhattan they're recreating, I'll keep watching this, though the anachronism jokes are getting old. (Hero: "I need my cellphone." 1973 cop: "You need to sell what?" Hero: "I'll have a Diet Coke." 1973 bartender: "I wish!") Harvey Keitel plays the old-school police chief, for a touch of authenticity, since in 1973 he appeared in Martin Scorsese's gritty NYC drama Mean Streets. There are some creepy suggestions that the hero is actually hallucinating all this. (If you saw the original, please don't spoil it for me!) And the soundtrack, which includes the original version of the title tune, is awesome.

But the show has good reviews, so it'll probably get canceled. Damn.

I watched the first twenty minutes of this before heading to bed. I'm not one for cop shows, but I jumped when he got hit by the car, and got goosebumps all over when he spotted the twin towers. As a Grey's Anatomy addict, it's likely I'll leave the channel on to see how this new show pans out...

The funny thing about it is that they can't use all the fancy CSI modern cop show gadgets because none of that stuff existed back then. Of course, there are plenty of other cliches. But I cracked up at the scene where the hero is trying to psychologically profile the killer with the help of put-upon female cop Gretchen Mol, and Keitel basically says, "Yeah, yeah, you just told us what we already know; now let's go bash in a suspect's door." Not to be an advocate of warrantless door bashing, but why do the smarty-pants profilers solve every crime on TV?

I watched the first episode and I'll keep TiVoing it. It scratches my Journeyman itch (I'm still not over that show's cancellation). Though I totally agree about all the anachronistic lines being annoying -- Jeeps were common street vehicles by 1973, BTW.

And I think you mean "it's not 2008," not 1998.

No, she meant 1998. I asked her about that when she wrote this. She claims that's when the bell bottoms and 70s clothes were in again.

I guess I was thinking that in 1998, he could have been wearing the exact same clothes as in 1973 and the Towers would have been standing, so neither of those things was proof of being 30 years in the past. He probably wouldn't have had an eight-track player in his car, though. Oh well.

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