Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life on Mars Series One

British Television has a lot of advantages going its way. They have a system set up with expectations that favor storytellers. Instead of proposing an idea that, when picked up, has to be expanded into a 22 episode season and possibly into multiple seasons if successful, they have small, manageable series of 8 to 13 episodes. They tell a cohesive story and get out. If there is success and another story to be told, they might make another series or two (seasons for Americans) but they tend to not have to pad. It rewards originality and creativity in television. Perhaps that is why so many American series are simply retellings of British shows.

Unfortunately, this can ruin some great stories for American audiences. Life on Mars is just one example of this. The American version (apparently) stunk it up. The British version on the other hand may be one of the best bits of television in the 2000s. The first series sees Detective Sam Tyler hit by a car. When he wakes up, he has traveled from 2006 into 1973. Presumably, he might be in a coma and dreaming everything. That is just one of the many interesting issues the show raises.

Differences between 70’s and 00’s mentality are also explored. Perhaps most compelling is the way Sam has to try to change the views of the people around him. In a purely secular view, the understanding and methods of 2006 are better than those of 1973. Society has advanced. Sam has seen a better world than the one he is trapped in and has to try to help others see the world through his eyes.

Of course, the other difference between British and American television can cause other problems for viewers. In Britain, when they say a show is for adults—they mean it. Viewers beware. There is coarse language, bloody violence and one instance of brief nudity.

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