Have you ever watched something on television that really gets your cogs working; and by those cogs, I mean way back in your memory banks? Although Life on Mars combined elements of science fiction with police procedural, it was set during the 1970s – a decade in which I grew up.
Sam Tyler, a police officer, is hit by a car in 2006, only to find himself waking up in 1973. Back at his station, he learns that he now works under the command of Gene Hunt. It is unclear to both Sam and the audience if he has gone mad, in a comma, died or has travelled back in time.
Two things in particular stand out for me about this show. The first is the job that went into making the time period as realistic as possible. Although I didn’t grow up in the UK and there have been known to be some discrepancies, there were still many things that got my memory working. Seeing the image of the girl with the clown appear on Sam’s television screen made me wince. We used to see that same image here on Australian television (and yes, as I have a dislike for clowns, this could be where that all started). Hearing songs from the era probably stood out the most – some songs that I had completely forgotten and had probably hoped never to hear again (although the more I hear the theme song from David Bowie, the more I like it). The same could be said for the clothes and décor – after having lived it, I can honestly say that I think the 70s were the worst decade when it comes to fashion.
The second thing about the show is the characters and that’s where the writing comes in. Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt may have differences in opinion when it comes to policing due to the eras in which they are used to working, however, they do eventually earn each other’s respect. They play the old ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine, but they get results. They each have flaws and are able to make light of them, which introduces the humour into the show. Above all, it is the characters that stand out and help make the show so memorable; a combination of good writing and acting. Once you’ve watched the show, you can’t forget the ‘Gene Genie’. 😉
I think this video is really well done and sums the show up nicely.
Have you ever watched a television show that reminded you of a time in your life? Have you watched Life on Mars and which version – UK or US? Which era do you think was the worst when it comes to fashion?