Life On Mars : Complete BBC Series 1  [DVD]
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Life On Mars is the smash-hit cop show starring John Simm as a detective who is involved in a car accident and wakes to find himself transported back to 1973 a world dominated by Ford Cortinas, sheep-skin jackets and very hard coppers.
How would the modern face of policing cope in the land of The Sweeney? Thats the question posed by Life on Mars, as DI Sam Tyler (John Simm) a modern cop transported back to 1973 after a nasty car accident. There, he finds himself dealing with the significantly rougher attitudes and behaviours of "old-school" British policing, as exemplified by his new boss, DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister). Its a fish-out-of-water story, as Tyler attempts to teach his new colleagues some very modern methods, while attempting to get used to sheepskin jackets, wide lapels and man-made fibres.
This first series of the hugely successful BBC programme sets the scene and introduces the characters that make up Tylers new world, but stumbles a bit by trying too hard to explain exactly how he got there (the "coma" subplot just gets in the way). Life on Mars is at its best when Glenister is on screen--hes bigoted, chauvinistic and aggressive, and goes through each episode alternately bellowing or scowling. But hes a product of his times, and in his heart, all he wants is to catch the bad guys. For Tyler, its all about the means, while for Hunt its all about the ends. They may not like each other much, but their on-screen chemistry is undeniable, and just one of the things that make this excellent series so watchable. --Ted Kord
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The chemistry between Simm's DI Sam Tyler and Philip Glenister's scene-stealing role as DCI Gene 'The Gene Genie' Hunt (second Bowie reference) is one of the main crux of this show. Their difficult relationship straddles resentment, absolute loathing and complete reliance, resulting in hilarity (such as Glenister's wonderful one-liners) or nail-bitting drama (like Tyler and Hunt's clashes of character).
By blending what could have been just another gritty crime drama with the element of sci-fi and fantasy, the shows creators have made, with the help of a script that's full of wit, warmth and intelligence, a fantastically engaging series. If you missed it when it first aired then I reccommend that you miss out no longer; 'Life On Mars' is proof, along with 'Dr Who', 'Hussle' and 'Cassanova', that the BBC can still make great television when it wants to.
It's also a great DVD package (spanning 4 discs) that shows the producers really care about their series; the two part Making Of documentary (on discs 1 and 2) is insightful and interesting and at about 45mins each, it's not a 15 minute collection of clips and actors telling you who their character is like you don't know. The documentaries about music (disc 3) and production (disc 4) are equally as intriging. I've not experienced the audio commentaries yet but with such a great cast I'm sure they'll be entertaining. Even the imaculately produced packaging shows the care that has gone into this boxed set. Just do yourself a favour and buy it now... my little deputy dawgs.
I purchased the DVD for obvious reasons and as it's not available in the states, I didn't mind paying $50 US for it. It's worth every penny and I would have paid double that.
Writer/Producer David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Legal) has optioned the rights for a US version and although I believe it would be near impossible to carry over the same world and feel to the States... if anyone can do it, David E. Kelley can. He is developing it for next season (Fall 2007-2008).
Having watched almost the whole first series in its entirity, (I am six episodes in) on the sheer basis of the first six episodes alone, I give it five stars. John Simm is proving to be an excellent actor, certainly he plays DI Sam Tyler with the right mixture of confusion, vulnerability, sadness and determination that makes him instantly likeable.
The premise is quite simple. DI Tyler is involved in a horrific car crash, and wakes up in 1973 - the time when man made fibres were the order of the day, Ford Cortinas were hot, and when Mobile Phones were possibly "forgein numbers" and the world was still to be introduced to the concept of a TV in a bar. Tyler is left to unravel the mystery of what is happening to him - is this all a dream? a product of his mind, brought on by the coma from his accident? Is he going mad, or is 2006 a figment of his imagination and 1973 is reality?
It's powerful, gripping television and I watched the first six episodes back to back. Sam is an engaging character, a lost man trying to make sense of the world he is in, and get to grips with brutal methods of policing. Reading a suspect his rights "doesn't go like that" there weren't tape recorders used back then, and Sam finds himself regularly haunted by the girl off the TV test card.
Sam also clashes on a regular basis with the hardline methods of his superior "Gene" played by Phillip Glennister. Glennister ignites the screen in every scene he's in, and though the two rarely see eye to eye, together their screen presence is commanding and an absolute joy to watch.Read more ›
As noted by another reviewer the frame rate has been slowed down from 25fps to 24 - this is the format used on many Blu Ray movies as it is said to give motion a more film-like quality which Kudos are trying to replicate here. Having previously seen the show on DVD I could not notice any change in audio pitch or speed of movement caused by the slowdown, although each episode is a couple of minutes longer as a result.
In terms of video quality this release is everything I expected. Life on Mars was shot on 16mm film and was intended to have a very retro-70s look, so while there is a definite layer of grain (and the occasional scratch-mark/blemish) present, along with a slight softness in long and motion shots, these are all intentional. Close-up detail and colour reproduction show a definite improvement over the standard definition DVD. However, the biggest improvement comes with the sound, as the TruHD track is deeper and more well defined than anything previously released, especially when it comes to the fantastic early 70s soundtrack.
Ultimately, if you're expecting the Blu Ray of Life on Mars to be a pristine, pixel-perfect presentation then you're going to be disappointed. But if you want to see the series at its best and as the production team intended then look no further.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With a title borrowed from David Bowie and the presence of John Simm (last seen in the absorbing 'State Of Play'), this wonderfully witty and inventive drama series had me hooked... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent series, I missed it on tv and have now discovered why everyone was talking about it. Keeps you entertained from start to finish. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pam
Item was not as descripted. I sent it back for refund, but I never got my money back. First time I had problem of this sort in over twenty years purchasing! Not good at all!Published 3 months ago by Jacopo Rauch