Release: Apr 04, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: Mr Miau - external link: IMDB - more from this series
The BBC production Life on Mars is an interesting mix of a crime story and time traveling themes. After an accident during an investigation in 2006 Detective Sam Tyler suddenly awakes in the year 1973. Is he in a coma? Or crazy? Or did he really travel in time? Sam tries to answere these questions and at the same time has to solve some difficult cases with his new boss Gene Hunt. Whoever is into British humor and likes the typical Seventies style should check this series out. It does not contain a lot of action but it is really interesting to see the cops do their work without modern technologies. One of the most interesting characters is Gene Hunt, who constantly makes cynical remarks and quite often approaches his job the tough and brutal way. The producers of the series paid a lot of attention to the small details, which makes it really great to watch. Additionally, the soundtrack always features the apt rock music of the area. However, if someone prefers the CSI style with a lot of special effects, this might be a bit boring for him and he should not bother watching it.
Just like other TV series, BBC 2 produced two versions of Life On Mars: an Original Version for the UK market and a shorter version for the TV broadcast to have more slots for commercials. Furthermore some of the escpecially in the US TV critical dialogs and nudity scenes were cut out. Often could be read that the shorter version is a so-called "Euro Version", which was produced for other European countries (which could also be read in the old intro here), and that the Original Version was produced exclusively for the UK market. Nut it turns out it's not that simple even though a reconstruction of the events is impossible because we couldn't get hold of the TV Versions.
Here's what we could figure out: according to different reports, the shortened versions were shown when the series premiered on the BBC. But like I said, the reports about that are different. The IMDb for instance only lists the shorter versions for the reruns on another network.
It's also not correct that the shortened versions were only sold to other European countries. It's clear that the shortened versions aired on BBC America or BBCA (the BBC subsidiary in the US). This info can be read in many DVD reviews about the series and lots of reviews written by the IMDB users. Unfortunately, it's not certain whether the shortened version in the US is equal to the shortened European version, escpecially since the US DVDs contain the Uncut Version and getting hands on the TV Versions from the US is quite a long shot (please let us know if anyone could help us out here).
According to lots of reports, the US Version has a standard length of approx. 42 min while the shortened versions used for the comparison have a length of approx. 52 min. Several reviews and the IMDB claim differently: they're all talking about a length of approx. 42 min. And it would make perfect sense perfect 42 min is the standard length for a TV series in the US. Added up with the comercials, a complete hour has been reached. Nevertheless not any TV series has a length of 42 min per episode of course. Unfortunately an info about the exact length without the commercials on TV in the US couldn't be found. On the contrary, many cuts of the compared shortened versions are equal to the cuts in the US Versions. The fact that minor scene cuts with contents like nudity or offensive dialogs are typical for the US TV. Another aspect is the fact that the BBC was calling the shots for the TV Versions in UK and US. Two different versions were produced from the beginning and it's likely that the shorter versions are the versions sold worldwide.
This so-called International Version was offered to a lot of network. This is also the version that aired in Sweden. In Germany, the network "Kabel Eins" bought the rights in 2006. In February 2007, when the German audio track was finished, season one aired at prime time on saturdays. It became a complete desaster because the potential target group was either going out or watching a movie or a show on one of the other networks. The result were low ratings so that the decision not to air the second season was being made.
Shortly afterwards, KSM released the entire 8 episodes of season 1 on DVD. Unfortunately, the release only contains the International Versions. This fact spread like a desease, not more than 10,000 pcs. were sold. A lot of fans prefered to get the Uncut Version in the UK. In June 2009, there was a rerun on Kabel Eins. The entire first season aired, followed by one episode of season 2 every saturday at about 11 p.m. Unfortunately, the season 2 episodes were also the shortened versions. In addition with the suboptimal time slot, the ratings were low again. For some reason, it looks like Germany is only country where the TV Versions have been released on DVD so far. But according to KSM, that's the version they got from the BBC. Which means it's uncertain whether the TV Versions have been released in other countries or not. I can only say for sure that the DVD and BD releases in the UK and US both contain the Uncut Version, despite the shortened versions that aired on TV there.
Sequels and Remakes
The BBC produced a sequel series call Ashes to Ashes, featuring a similar story and part of the original cast. There, police psychologist Alex Drake, who investigates Sam Tyler's case, is being shot in the head and awakes in 1981 to work with Gene Hunt and his team there. In 2008, the US network ABC produced a remake, in which Harvey Keitel played the character of Gene Hunt but which was cancelled after one season. In Spain, they also made a series called La chica de ayer, which is based on Life on Mars.
This comparison covers the first episode of season one between the uncut British Originaly Version taken from the Contender DVD (BBFC12) and the cut Euro Version taken from the German Free TV Broadcast on Kabel Eins (FSK 12).
A total of 6:55 min was removed in 22 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:21 min
British Version: 58:26 min
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
The German Version also displays the alternative title.
No time difference
After Sam brought Colin to the ground, he is defending himself a bit longer. He takes a garbage can's lid while Sam takes out a baton. Coling is being cheered at by a neighbour boy.
Boy: "Smash his face in!"
Sam: "This is gonna look very bad on your arrest report, Colin".
Coling tries to attack Sam, but he dodges the attack and beats him down before grabbing his arms and handcuffing him.
We see the crime scene being sealed off and Sam in his car a bit earlier.
Sam can be seen crying in his car longer.
Sam's new colleagues make a few remarks.
A police ad for locking your car securely is missing.
A part of the briefing is missing. The colleagues tell Sam that Suzi had been dead for several hours before she was found. Chris throws the necklace and the nail polish the woman had on her on a magazine. He then lets some sauce of his sandwick drop on the magazine and tries to clean it afterwards.
Chris states that the murder does not seem to have been connected with a robbery.
After both versions show Sam hanging his head, Chris explains that 27 pence were found in the wallet. Sam then asks why it could not have been a robbery as the criminal could just have taken banknotes. After all, who would steal 27 pence? Chris answers that he would and the colleagues agree. A short shot of the dumbfounded Sam and the beginning of a shot of Chris are missing as well.
After Sam asks Annie what her name was, she instantly says her first name in the Euro Version. In the original, she states her rank and surname first and Sam has to ask for her first name.
Sam and Chris talk longer while they walk through the city. Sam asks himself whether he was there (1973) because the murderer he was after in 2006 had already been murdering then. Chris of course does not understand and just looks confused.
In his new flat Sam turns the TV on, the BBC News are being shown. In the background Annie can be heard opening a beer bottle. Sam is turning the TV off and tries to convince himself that he is not crazy.
The three policemen enter the store room in order to interview Dora. Gene starts the interview and after he and Dora had a rather agressive talk he introduces his colleague Sam.
Sam is sitting in the cafeteria, being a bit shocked about Gene's methods. The next scene shows Gene letting Dora out of a room in which she obviously had been locked in for quite a long time.
Briefing. Sam asks Annie whether she was familiar with the case. He wants to hear her opinion because she had studied Psychology. They try to find out why the criminal did not tie his victim down.
The policemen start their interviews at another door.
When Sam and Gene return to their car, the scene starts a bit earlier.
Mrs Raimes continues to talk and says that the policemen were very nice. Sam asks here whether she had filed a complaint three months ago, but she does not answer straight away.
A short part of the chat between Mrs Raimes and Gene Hunt about the pink waffles was cut out.
After Gene and Chris jumped up and walked towards the door the cut version directly jumps to them sitting in the car, whereas in the original Gene calls out towards his colleagues and asks what they should do while he and Sam storm out. The colleagues get moving.
Sam tells Gene that they have to pay attention because they did not even had a search warrant. Gene only looks at him and does not seem tu understand.
A scene transition was shortened. At first the policemen leaving the locality can be seen longer. Then the following scene starts earlier, Chris and other colleagues celebrate Gene and Sam for finding the criminal.
Sam is sitting in the cafeteria while two women working there want to end their work. One of them asks Sam whether everything was alright but he does not answer. When her colleague turns off the light, she leaves. The cut version starts again when a close-up of Gene's face can be seen.
The complete ending credits are missing in the TV Version.