Release: May 21, 2012 - Author: Buster - Translator: Tony Montana - 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 is a comparison between the uncut British Original Version included in the DVD box set released by Contender DVD (BBFC12) and the shortened European Version, represented by a broadcast the German Free TV (FSK 12).
International TV Version: 51:06 min PAL (no end credits)
Original Version: 56:36 min PAL (no end credits)
Difference: 12 extended scenes with a total length of 5 minutes and 30 seconds.
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
Sam and his associates Ray and Chris pick up Dickie Fingers at the penitentiary to bring him to HQ. On their way over there, they're being hassled by a truck. Due to a driving error, they get swung off the road and the attackers manage to abduct Fingers without using force. Subsequently, a few shots have been removed as well.
After Sam interrogated the newspaper vendor, he returns the newspaper he's just finished by throwing it back to her.
Sam meets his designated mentor Deputy Chief Constable Glen Fletscher. He's supposed to support the team during the on-going investigation. Fletscher believes to recognize Sam.
Fletscher: "DI Tyler? You were at Hyde."
Fletscher: "You know, I was at Hyde for a bit. Weren't there a bit of bother? I'm sure I remember your name."
Ray: "Here we go. Come on. Tell us what a bastard he really is."
Sam: "I... You must be, um... mixing me up with somebody else."
Fletscher: "No. I don't think I am."
After the attack of a money transporter, a briefing with Superintendent Woolf follows. The following dialog has been removed:
1 min and 21 sec
Sam: "It'll be tricky, 'cause these sorts of gangs rarely have just one target on the go. They've usually researched half a dozen possibilities, waiting for the most opportune circumstances on any of them."
Woolf: "He knows his onions, this lad, eh?"
Gene: "Oh, he's a right little smart-arse. So, what do you suggest, Buddha?"
Sam: "We profile the privious robberies, see if any patterns emerge. Compile a list of places with large amounts of cash or valuables on the premises. We correlate the values of the goods with the level of security and you end up with a league table of the most vulnerable organisations. Don't you agree? Glen?"
Fletscher: "League tables?"
Fletscher: "I haven't got a bloody clue what you're on about, Sir."
Sam: "Well, it's a list with the likeliest targets at the top."
Fletscher: "Why couldn't you say that in the first place?"
Ray: "Because he wouldn't have sound like a twonk."
Sam: "Sorry, Ray. I forget you have trouble with words of more than no syllables."
Woolf: "DC Skelton! You and DC Fletscher get onto these league tables of possible targets. See who's most likely to win the title."
Gene Hunt seems to be over-eager to put the suspect behind bars. A short conversation with Sam is missing.
Sam: "We've no concrete evidence to implicate Malone in these robberies. I understand you want to help an old mate."
Gene: "I've seen good men die on this job. Keel over trying to settle old scores. In ten years, I don't want to see Harry Woolf wandering around like Nipper after Ronnie Biggs. He's too good for that."
During the interrogation of Arnold Malone, Sam mentions the abduction of Dickie Fingers.
Sam: "Not to mention sringing Dickie Fingers from our transport car."
Malone: "Copper's wet dream. You're barking up the wrong tree."
The attack of the post office could be prevented and the perps have been arrested. The interrogation of Dickie Fingers starts slightly earlier.
Fingers: "This is all your fault. None of this would have happened if you'd left me in prison."
Sam: "We know Arnold Malone is behind this, So all I need from you are the details."
Fingers: "I'm not talking with him in the room. I mean it."
Gene: "Fine by me. Give me a shout if he needs a slap."
During his interrogation, Dickie Fingers makes the attempt to pin it on Superintendent Woolf. Sam refuses to believe that but he asks for more time when he bumps into Woolf in the hallway.
Woolf: "Good day's work. Dickie Fingers should have enough information about Malone to make something stick, even if it's tax evasion."
Sam: "Ah, the old Al Capone trick."
Woolf: "See Dickie's shipped straight back to prison, will you?"
Sam: "Actually, Sir, I still haven't quite finished my own enquiries."
Woolf: "I'm not with you."
Sam: "I need a little bit more time for hand him over. There's another unrelated case Dickie might have information about."
Woolf: "Gene didn't mention this."
Sam: "It's only just come up. If I could have another 24 hours..."
Woolf: "That long??"
Sam: "I'd be very happy to take him back as soon as I have everything I need."
Sam: "Thank you, Sir."
Woolf: "Join us at the Railway Arms when you're done."
In the pub, Superintendent Woolf acts cool.
Woolf: "Dickie Fingers said what? The cheeky bugger."
Gene: "Luckily, DI Tyler here brought it to my attention."
Woolf: "Oh, what would Big Malcom Allison do in a situation like this, eh, Gene?"
Gene: "Smack Malone with a bottle of champagne and stub his Cuban out on his hand."
Woolf: "I should take it as a compliment. Must be getting to Malone. He's scared enough to get his lackey to try to discredit me."
Gene: "It's an occupational hazard. Shows you've got 'em on the ropes. Your round, Sam."
After looking at Dickie Finger's body at the morgue, it turns out that Fletscher contributed to Finger's escape by command of Superintendent Woolf. A short of desperate-looking Constable Glen Fletscher has been remove.
Sam and Gene are on the balcony. They're watching Fletscher leave with Woolf but it's just a diversion to get the opportunity to look around in Woolf's office. Gene doesn't like it. Sam tries to cheer him up by smacking his shoulder.
Gene and Sam find some cash and an account book at Woolf's office. Being confronted with that, Woolf confesses to be involved in the roberies. The death of Dickie Fingers is on him, too. He threatens Gene and Sam with a gun. But Glen Fletscher finally eases the situation.
His following conversation with Sam is missing:
1 min and 4 sec
Sam: "Another transfer. Another station, eh?"
Fletscher: "That's what people do, in't it? When there's been a bit of bother and they want to avoid the fallout. Thanks, Sam. Thanks for not letting me to Discipline and Complaints. I owe you one."
Sam: "You'll pay me back. In time."
Fletscher: "I wish I had half your belief in me."
Sam: "You will have. Just... you know, make it count. Be the good role model. Make people remember you. Earn your headline."
Fletscher: "Don't take this the wrong way, DI Tyler, but you're a mental case."
The rest of the difference in time results in a preview of the upcominc episode. However, we won't mention this any further within this report.