42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2007
I think in many ways series 2 of this quality drama exceeds the first.
It is more driven and piles on the plot in ways that are imaginative and complex.
The extra's on this DVD are also more slickly put together and professional.
I still have some extras left to watch but can only say at the end of the series I felt that I'd just watched something highly significant and wonderful.
The two complete series as drama will no doubt be studied forever by budding film students. And watched by new generations as it is repeated down the line.
I thought it was wonderful that something this bold could be made now amidst a 'reality tv' society. And perhaps it will lead the way for other production companies to take risks as the writers here did in order to push boundaries and bring more quality to the screen.
As said before in my review of series one - though it lacks the masterful genius of Dennis Potter (see The Singing Detective, which is simply one of the best dramas I've ever seen) - it brings an intelligent thought provoking drama to mainstream. Particularly in this series - this drama is entitled to 5 stars of its own.
Watch it then tell all your friends to watch it!
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2007
People always complain that there is a lot of rubbish on modern TV. And then something like "Life on Mars" comes around and, wow, it blows you away. Somehow I missed both series when they were originally broadcast. One episode on the BBC4 rerun and I was hooked. The writing is taut, the production is paced, gripping and totally authentic, and the actors all perform out of their skins. This really is as near to perfection as you can get.
For me, Series 2 gets the nod over Series 1 simply because all the characters are now fully bedded in and we can watch them growing as people with every episode.
Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt, the leading characters, are flawed but totally sympathetic, which is a tribute to the actors playing them. Sam may be a gratingly PC modern policeman but we empathise with his decency, kindness and isolation in a strange world. Gene may make us blanche, but we know that he too is a decent man who has to be hard to keep a bad world away from good people. Forget all the questions still unanswered at the end of the saga: for me the biggest is why on earth Philip Glenister has not yet won a BAFTA.
But it's not just the leading two men turning in the stellar performances. The lovely WDC Annie Cartwright (she could grind corn at my windmill any day) not only provides the love interest but lightens the tone in what could otherwise have been a grim show. The sexism she faces is shocking, yet her response is to win over her colleagues by making herself indispensable. By the end of the show, she still gets the banter but not worse than any other male character. In other words she's fully accepted. It would have been easy to make her a raging feminist who gets to rub men's noses in the dirt, but the approach taken by the writers is far more subtle and worthwhile.
I think "Life on Mars" worked best when it capitalised on its humour. The famous Camberwick Green sequence is wonderful. And as for Gene Hunt at the wife-swapping party ... His body language as he follows Mrs Luckhurst to the bedroom is worth the price of the DVD on its own. Hilarious.
Re. the last ever episode, thankfully it didn't close like "Blake's Seven". That would have been a slap in the face to the audience. In fact Episode 8 might be the best of the whole lot as the show comes to a spectacular end. "Ashes to Ashes" has an awful lot to live up to and I just can't wait to see the Gene Genie in 1981.
As for the DVD features there are several excellent behind-the-scenes documentaries where the enthusiasm of everyone connected to the show comes across. There is also a hilarious double act in the cast interviews from Dean Andrews (Ray) and Marshall Lancaster (Dave), and I just hope that "Ashes to Ashes" can exploit them even better than "Life on Mars". It's just a shame that there are no episode-by episode commentaries, particularly as the show reached its climactic end. But that doesn't change the fact that if you don't buy both series then you really must be mad or in a coma ...
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I have reviewed Series 1 which blew me away - but series two seems to get even better.
The humour, the warmth between characters, the 'baddies' - the '70s kitsch all seem to have been turned up from 10, to 11!
Sam meets his mentor in his younger days and is shocked to see his hero as a pathetic man who takes all the racist jibes thrown at him rather than the strong stalwart of justice he is familiar with.
The supposed-IRA bomber episode was one of the strongest I've seen - and the following story about Swingers was fantastic, with Gene (Philip Glenister) giving one of the funniest performances of the series.
And the 7th Episode - what can I say?!!! Absolutely amazing, with the DCI on the run - this was another strong episode helped along with yet another DCI Gene Hunt classic moment - dressed as Tufty the squirrel!
In this episode, Gene Hunt is less jovial (as you'd imagine when on the run) and we see more of his vulnerable side, something which seems to be a theme running through the second series - with the odd line here and there about his past tragedies. Acting DCI Morgan adds a new element to the episode as a Jobsworth character - who interrupts Sam and Annie just as it looks as thought they are about to engage in some over-friendliness!
And then, the finale...
...And what a finale!!!
Is Morgan all he seems to be? Is Sam in a coma? If he is will he return to his own time? Will he stay with Hunt and the team?
Well, if you haven't seen it then I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't give anything away.
The finale is without doubts one of the TV highlights of the last decade, and then some! Emotionally charged to the point that your hair starts to tingle whilst you watch it. This really was the perfect ending to the series. It looks as though there won't be a series 3, but rumour has there'll be a Spin-Off called "Ashes to Ashes" (another David Bowie reference). I don't know if it'll be as good as this. This was television dynamite. Intelligently written, gritty realism along with spiritualism, I am really quite sorry to see this amazing programme end.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2007
I've loved this whole series since the very first episode and now own both Boxsets, which take pride of place in my DVD collection. The concept is so original, although now copied or mimicked in a number of other shows, but it is the casting that makes this really work - John Simm and Phil Glenister have such a great on-screen chemistry that keeps you glued to every scene and every now infamous line of narrative, particularly for Gene Hunt. Like many over the age of 35 it is great to remember when lifestyles were less complex and more innocent (although not always for then better) and see the sharp contrast with the modern world.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2007
Count me in with those who absolutely LOVED the ending of Life on Mars. I've watched that last episode a dozen times now, and it remains the best piece of TV I've seen all year. And I know in advance I'm gonna hate the American remake due sometime next year; the ending is what iced the show for me, and there is NO way an American network will air that ending. It'll get altered, focus-grouped and censored into oblivion. Buy this set, and don't even bother with the other, if it ever airs. This is a true classic of the television medium, not to be missed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2009
Is there life on Mars? Our hero Jim Tyler, played convincingly by John Simm, certainly finds life on Mars ,or, is it perhaps another time and place, or ,is he, as we are led to believe in a deep coma.
The answer isn't really important for where ever he is we have a rollicking good time with him. The premise sounds a bit farfetched but we are soon playing along, arresting the bad guys, admiring him enormously for his never wavering squeaky clean morality as opposed to his "Guv" again played almost too convincingly by Philip Glenister, who constantly cuts corners, beats people up for the sheer pleasure of it. For people who have lived as an adult in 1973 it is fun to compare the lifestyles. Besides the obvious, clothes ,ugh ,and hairstyles so much has changed. Everything we take for granted today, that simplifes crime fighting, DNA, mobils, etc. didn't exist. It even leads us to believe that we and the police are more civilised in 2008, though I question this.
To get back to the plot. The first series of eight episodes are extremely engaging
introducing us to a cast of unforgettable characters whom we soon learn to love or hate. The plots are well written and exciting. I have watched the first series and am now looking forward. to watching the second ries as well as "Ashes to Ashes which is the follow up series.
I would recommend this DVD box set for lovers of crime series as it is definately a notch above the usual run of the mill stuff we get used to on the telly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2008
I am one of those sad individuals who learn about a rave new TV show two thirds the way into the second series and as such, having missed the first series and a half, had no idea what to expect. The first episode I watched in both series was the final one of series 2. My timing has never been that good!
So when Ashes To Ashes came on I watched all of that - and look forward to the chance to get my hands on Keeley Hawes (did I mean that?) again when it comes out on DVD. So, to get the gist, I bought series 1 a couple of weeks ago and series 2 last week. Then, after a lot of watching DVDs I understood that final episode - or did I?
The whole idea is unique in a sense, unless you discount Dr Sam Beckett, for that is another series altogether, and the creation of DCI Gene Hunt is altogether fantastic but what entertainment! Laugh? There were moments I was crying with laughter. My wife says he reminds her of me - Mmmm.
But I was not prepared for the opening sequence for the later episode in series 2 which began with a mock version of Camberwick Green, with Sam Tyler coming out of the box to be asked how he was doing. What happened next was a coffee moment - if I had a cat it would have been covered!
Buy this, along with series 1 and have a great time. I cannot wait to sit and watch the whole thing once again, from start to finish.
Great TV. Worth the licence fee just to watch this!
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2007
Five stars aren't enough... having missed three of Series 1's episodes, I immediately bought the DVD set upon release and watched the whole series over one very wine-fuelled night. I was hooked. For me, Series 2 was even more infectious and, having been a kid in '73, I could relate to so much that it often proved to be an emotional experience. I cannot remember a more gripping and entertaining TV series. It's a work of sheer genius. Naturally, I pre-ordered my Series 2 DVD set weeks ago. Time to buy more wine and unplug the phone!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sam Tyler is still stuck in 1973, unsure if he has somehow really travelled backwards in time or if he is merely stuck in a coma in 2006 and is fantasising everything that is happening to him. However, now he has been there for a few weeks he is getting more used to life in the 1970s and is starting to downplay the unusual auditory and visual hallucinations he continues to suffer from. But, just as things seem to be settling down, questions about Sam's previous 1970s life in 'Hyde' before relocating to Manchester arise, and set in chain a sequence of events which could lead Sam home...wherever that is.
Life on Mars' second season was the last, due to a combination of the producers not wishing to over-exploit the concept and lead actor John Simm's well-known reluctance to be typecast in a long-running television series. It was a bold decision for a series that had become a big hit on British television and done the seemingly impossible by getting audiences fired up over a cop show.
The second season offers up pretty much more of the same as the first season: Sam and Gene butt heads over their different approaches to policing, but they have, grudgingly, accepted that each has skills the other does not, and when they combine their approaches it often leads to good results. Sam and Annie continue to not quite get it together in the tradition of all great TV will-they, won't-they romances, and Sam continues to be haunted by hallucinations of his life in 2006 which relate to his current situation in 1973. The show also moves onto slightly more contentious ground in Season 2 by covering the more controversial subject of IRA terrorism in one episode whilst continuing to examine the extent of corruption and heavy-handed methods in the 1970s police force.
In my review of Season 1, I mentioned that the show's continuous use of Sam's odd mental state occasionally gets a little exasperating, as sometimes you'd quite like to just see Sam and Gene butt heads and then solve the crime without Sam freaking out every twenty minutes. The producers play on this in two episodes in particular in the second season, one in which Sam doesn't have any odd experiences and starts getting worried about the lack of them, and another in which Sam reacts very badly to whatever is happening to him in the present and has to sit most of the investigation out. This latter episode, which is by far the most 'freak-out' intensive of the series, also perversely is one of the very best episodes, with flashbacks showing how they operated before he arrived (and giving rise to the unusual sight of scenes not featuring Sam, which feels odd as he is in every other single scene of every other episode of the whole series).
Of course, as good as the individual episodes are (and they are pretty damn good), the one episode that everyone will be left talking about is the very last one. British SF is awash with series-ending episodes that leave the audience reeling and talking about them for years or decades afterwards: Blake's 7, Sapphire and Steel and The Prisoner being the most notable (Quantum Leap's befuddling finale is probably the USA's closest equivalent). Life on Mars joins their august ranks with a finale that takes the viewer on a crazy existential rollercoaster ride as we finally get an answer for what is going on with Sam, but that answer is in turn supplanted by another, contradictory one in a manner that would make Christopher Priest proud. Which is the truth and which do we believe? The finale operates on multiple levels of reality with the viewer not quite able to trust what is going on. There is a very clear 'obvious' possible answer for what is going on, but just as with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, that 'obvious' answer still leaves other, key questions unanswered.
Taken in isolation, Life on Mars' finale is very strong indeed. However, the news that a sequel/spin-off series was forthcoming which would shed more light on events did dilute the strength of that finale a bit, and Ashes to Ashes' plot developments have indeed plunged much of what we thought we knew from Life on Mars' finale into doubt. But further examination of that series is for another review.
The second season of Life on Mars (****½) is thoroughly entertaining, funny, thought-provoking and just the right side of ambiguous. It draws a line under the series and sets up the sequel series quite nicely. It is available now in the UK (DVD, Blu-Ray) and will be released in the USA on DVD in November.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2008
The second series of Life on Mars doesn't waste a shred of it's predecessor's momentum, throwing us into emotional plots, and continuing with it's streak of superb acting, editing, and music.
The ending was widely speculated by fans and some were thrilled, whilst some seemed disappointed. I was extremely satisfied and found it completely believable, but there are those who may not truly understand the depth of the psychological aspects and label Sam's actions as unrealistic. If you let it, this can go far beyond the normal spectrum and touch on life's big questions.
Then again if you're not the philosophical type, at least you'll still be entertained by one of the best cop shows in existence.