The first series turned out to be my favourite show in over a decade - Due South, I obviously have a thing for quirky fantasy cop shows - but I worried that the second and final run might fall flat.
Luckily, it manages to maintain the level of writing, acting and design, although just possibly some of the plotlines aren't as gripping this time. More episodes seem straightforward cop stories, having less impact on Sam's personal situation.
These are still great characters to spend time with though, as Sam seems to come to realise in the twisting and epic series closer.
The dvd itself does suggest a rush release. We get a few featurettes but no commentaries, which were one of the most enjoyable extras on the first series dvd. No doubt they'll be present when the complete two-series set is released, or for the deluxe collector's edition of S2. I almost docked a star for the omissions but the series deserves top marks.
Regarding the change in soundtrack at a couple of points, there are sometimes licensing issues preventing the tracks originally heard being used on dvd releases, hence the Tom Waits song now missing from the touching scene between Sam and Annie at his bedsit in the final episode.
on 18 March 2008
NOT TO BE MISSED -
Life on Mars is undoubtably one of the best series on tv for some considerable time. If you loved Series 1 - you will love this also. The chemistry between the characters is brilliant - excellent script writing. When you start to watch - do make sure that you have at least an evening free, for you will not be content to watch just one episode - Fantastic stuff - buy it, watch it and tell all of your friends to do they same - they will not be disappointed.
On hearing that the second series of Life On Mars was to be the last somehow the expectation quotient went up , after all if this was the final series then the writers had to bring the whole story of Sam Tyler to a definitive conclusion .....or did they . After all it's considered the province of writers to leave an ambiguous ending where they see fit, though I often think it's just lazy writing or that they genuinely haven't a clue how to conclude their work. The American series "Lost" is a pertinent example of this .
Series Two was always going to struggle to match series one which felt audacious , fresh and exigent and the first three episodes though covering pertinent and composite issues such as racism , terrorism and an old staple of sci-fi -corrupting the timeline felt a little jaded and lacking the innovation of previous episodes. In fact it has started to feel like most other cop dramas , though obviously a very good one. Episode four where Sam( John Simm) and Annie ( Liz White) infiltrate a swingers network under the pseudonyms Tony And Cherie Blair and where Gene Hunt ( Philip Glenister) crashes the first party so they have to introduce him as Gordon Brown see's the drama truly regain the impetus from last series.
With a truly exceptional "Camberwick Green" pastiche starting episode Five where the team investigate the disappearance of a young girl the series hits it's stride with the lines really starting to fizz between the characters Hunt: "Look at her ,she's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot ". Episode six introduces a very topical element of casual anti Muslim sentiment from members of "C Division" "They all look the same to me " says DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) though it's cleverly flipped on it's head when a Muslim says the same thing about white people. There is also the quite brilliant moment when Annie says as they crowd round a body lying on the floor "Boss there's a viscous yellow liquid leaking from his ear" to which Gene Hunt replies "No that's a drip from my fried egg buttie love ,well done Miss Marple" . Episode seven has Gene Hunt accused of murdering a suspect and started to drop tantalising hints about how Sam Tyler's predicament would resolve itself with the introduction of Frank Morgan (Ralph Brown) who may or may not have some connection with Sam's life in 2006.
The final episode is an absolute tour de force of complex, tense drama as our expectations of what has happened to Sam are ripped to shreds before our eyes and them cunningly reassembled in something reminiscent of what they were previously. It's difficult to explain without giving the game away and even though Sam's final act slightly defies credibility (But at the same time harks back to the very first episode) or should i say the manner of his achieving it does, it brings the series to an emotionally satisfying and oddly moving conclusion. Some will view it as an ahem...cop out more "Vanilla Sky" than "Fight Club" but I feel it's very well handled giving the audience what they want , or what I assume they want, but without resorting wholly to cliché or gross sentiment. I also detect a hint of social commentary in Sam's reaction to modern policing by committee and his preference for the rough & tumble hands on and decidedly un pc policing of the 70,s .
The actors again do a splendid job, the production values are spot on (Was it nearly always sunny in 1973?) and the scripts while too often relying on Sam mentioning things yet to happen and thus getting quizzical looks from his colleagues is full of superb lines and interchanges between the characters with Gene Hunt again getting all the best lines . Though my favourite line of the whole series is when Sam says to Carling after finding out he has met a woman and receiving a vague reply about her :"She sounds enigmatic ", to which Carling responds perplexed "No , she's from Barnsley".
I am going to miss "Life On Mars ", and I'm sure I am not the only one. though of course this DVD and the forthcoming box set of both series(Hopefully containing all the extras included on the single series versions) should go some way to cushioning the blow. The best TV drama series of recent times , but not for as Gene Hunt would put it - "Great , soft, cissy , girly , nancy , French bender, Man Utd -supporting puffs".
If series one of Life on Mars was about Sam Tyler adjusting to his new-found surroundings, wondering how he got there and what he was going to do now he was, series two is certainly more about why he is there and how he gets back home.
Series one was wonderful and I thought it would be near impossible to top, but they've managed it. John Simm retains his concurrently bewildered and menacing mood, while this time really managing to convey those periods of being temporarily and dangerously unhinged. Phil Glenister is just magnificent, playing what is likely to be the role of his career throwing out one-liners like he's using a flamethrower. Subtle he isn't, but then that wouldn't be Gene Hunt would it?
And let's not forget the supporting characters: each of them imbued with some depth and likeabilty (yes, even Ray) that most actors would kill for. But then that speaks volumes for the quality of writing and direction, which could have left us in a 70's nostalgia graveyard, but didn't. Instead, the show touched on some of the rather more uncomfortable memories of that period and didn't, on the whole, (no pun intended) cop out.
In all honesty I can say that I did see the end coming, but I certainly didn't see how it would get there, which made it all the more satisfying to watch, putting a grin on my face almost as big as the one on Sam Tyler's.
Shows of this quality are rare, so savour what there is and thank heaven that they left before overstaying their welcome. Can I give it six stars please?
This is a fantastic series as good if not better than the last one.
Really strong stories with great moments dialogue and action all be it very unpolitical. The final episode is so comforting and brilliant that you are glad that you have sat through the series just to watch the way it ends without seeing it coming.
This is pure gold.
on 23 July 2007
This is with out doubt one of the best TV series I have ever seen! The ending was very important (I think one of the reviews here is missing the point). The show turned out to be about the Afterlife. Our hero Sam learns so much and who is to say that many of the others in the 1973 world, maybe not all, are not in their Afterlife as well?
I highly recommend this series; it stays with you long after you have seen it.
on 14 May 2008
This is definitly one of the best shows i have watched in a long time, it seems to include everything you could wish for in a show. The storyline for this show is a piece of genius, however someone thought of this a do not know, it is original and at the same time great. Its not just the storyline which is great, the charectors created are marvelous as well, making the show brilliant. This the second and final series of the show which continous on from the fantastic first series which was just as good as the second. The series still follows Sam trying to get home, while still trying to understand why he is here in the first place. A must watch show for all.
on 2 April 2007
Putting your finger on what makes this series special isn't difficult. Despite it being rather repetitious when push comes to shove, something keeps you watching. Yes, there's the weird, dreamlike feel and the fact that we can now look back on series like The Sweeney with our tongues firmly in our cheeks - but the crucial ingredient is the authenticity of the seventies details. Not just seventies details, either: specifically 1973. No one has heard of Abba yet and there isn't a womble to be seen. Others might have been more slapdash with their research, but not here. For anyone who lived through the seventies and, despite everything that was wrong with that decade, enjoyed it, this series is a delight.
Episode 5, which begins with the characters mysteriously inhabiting Camberwick Green is pure genius. And as for abrasive, unreconstructed Gene Hunt dressing up as Tufty the Squirrel...what can I say? I'm sure the series is popular with those under thirty, too - but it's just so much better if you were there. Trust me!
on 1 August 2009
I am the sort of person who very rarely watches television these days, in fact i don't get the time. However when the time does allow i am fed up with the rubbish on television.I did see the trailers on television for Life On Mars and i must say i was quite hooked by what i saw.However i never got to see the series. It was one night that this series suddenly came to mind that i decided to order both series. Right from the first episode i was blown away. Gene Hunt is my favourite character.Going back to 1973 wow this opened up many memories as a child and it was like going back in time myself. The production as well as the acting is first rate and so are the plots. There are a number of things i could not help spotting like the constant use of The Red Ford Capri,as well as the Blue Transit Van. Also i was not aware that we had UPVC windows in 1973 or the covered outside light switches.The music is brilliant with the choice of stuff by Bowie and many others.This is the best way of watching a series as you can watch at your leisure and you don't have to wait until the following week for the next episode. There are not many programmes on TV these days which i am compelled to watch. This series certainly tipped the balance for me and i just love the non political correctness. Absolutely a must see for anyone interested in Sci-Fi. In fact i suppose its a mixture of the Bill and Quantum Leap but instead of the Bill as it is today we are back in 1973.
on 26 December 2007
I can't review the actual item but I do have a question...Will this series ever be put on region 1 DVD for us American fans? This show hooked me right from the opening segment, but I've only been able to see a few episodes. Besides getting new glimpses into British pop culture, Ive so enjoyed getting reacquainted with Uriah Heep and Deep Purple and some of the great 70's rock and roll you hardly hear anymore. The show is so funny and clever and that when I turn on American TV I feel cheated. Hope this DVD set will become available in this country soon!