To UK or to US?

I often find myself telling people I don’t watch a lot of TV.  That is technically true; you don’t find me channel surfing often, and about the only shows I catch when they air are Lost and The Office.  The real truth is that I do watch quite a bit of TV via other means.  Let’s call those other means “Netflix”.

Recently I stumbled over a British TV show called Life on Mars.  Police officer Sam Tyler (played by John Simm) gets hit by a car in the year 2006 and wakes up in 1972.  The title of the show comes from the David Bowie song, and refers to the stark difference in policing methods that 34 years makes.  Tyler must adapt to his new surroundings while trying to figure out if he has actually traveled in time or is in a coma and stuck inside his head (or both?).  The show wrapped up (I hope!  I haven’t seen all of season 2 yet) in two seasons of 8 hour-long episodes each.  There is a sequel called Ashes to Ashes.

Today, I discovered that there is a pilot of the US version of Life on Mars.  I just finished watching it and am left wondering why they can’t just import the British version!  At 45 minutes, it’s a slightly more streamlined show, but has lost all humo(u)r and depth.  There’s no chemistry between the characters, and the actors might as well be cardboard cutouts.  My heart was softened slightly by the appearance of Colm Meaney (that’s Chief O’Brien of Star Trek:TNG) but it’s really not enough to save the show.  I’ll probably watch another episode when it really airs, but based on the pilot, you should definitely Netflix the UK version.

Sorry Colm Meaney:
Colm Meaney

Now, let’s look at some pictures!

Sam Tyler (UK):
Look, he's squidgy and cute.

Sam Tyler  (US):

He looks like a Ken doll.  Not in a good way.  (Is there a good way?)

While I’m recommending TV shows, I might as well tell you how I discovered Life on Mars.  John Simm plays an excellent villain in the new series of Doctor Who.

(That’s John Simm on the left and David Tennant on the right.)

In fact, his villain was so deliciously evil that I decided I wanted to see what else he was in.  Hence, Life on Mars.  If you’d like to see Evil John Simm, I highly recommend watching this scene from Doctor Who.  All you really need to know is that John Simm is an EVIL MASTERMIND and has turned David Tennant into a weak old man (which should really be illegal) and the world is about to end.  (And he loves the Scissor Sisters.)

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3 Responses to To UK or to US?

  1. brianbunton says:

    I watched Life on Mars when it was on BBCA, both seasons. Generally, I liked the show. I won’t spoil anything, but I’ll just say I’ll be interested to hear what you think after you see the series finale. I haven’t checked out Ashes to Ashes yet, and don’t really have much of an interest. Let me know if you decide to start watching it.
    As for the US version, I’d been looking forward to it since it was announced, back when David E. Kelley (of Ally McBeal fame) was in charge. When I heard the news of his leaving the project, my expectations dropped. It’s sad to hear that it’s not started out very good, but I’ll still check it out. Thanks for the post!

  2. brianbunton says:

    And speaking of “other means”, someone remind me to tell Brian that I other-meansed the Lost finale for him and Tina and it’s ready to be other-meansed along to them when he returns to The Netherlands.

  3. mfkidd says:

    If the Ally McBeal guy had stayed in charge then maybe some of the quirkiness of the show would have been retained. Currently it’s just so serious…and dropping someone from 2006 into 1972 needs some ligther moments. Anyway, I’ll give another episode or two a chance before making a final judgement.

    I don’t know how common this is having never compared versions before (I’ve never seen the UK version of The Office for example). I expected the script to be pretty much the same, but also most camera angles and shots were nearly identical in both versions. Having seen the UK pilot only a couple of weeks ago, this might have made the US version more boring for me.

    Well, I think I’ll go other means the next episode…

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