Release: Apr 10, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: Mr Miau - external link: IMDB - more from this series
The BBC production Life on Mars is an interesting mix 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 fifth 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 5:49 min was removed in 8 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:09 min
British Version: 56:58 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 features the alternative title. The image was cropped in order to get the title into the middle of the screen.
no time difference
Longer scene transition. Sam can be seen going around the corner after the chat with Ryan. After a cut he can be seen entering the police station in which Gene Hunt is just telling the colleagues to check on all football fans known to be violent. The last sentence missing in the cut version is Sam's "I think you're wrong".
Sam talks longer to Annie after she joked that she thought his time travel stories were merely his way to get the ladies' attention. Sam answers with the rather rude sentence “Please fuck me, I'm in a coma” and Annie says that this was no reason to get impolite. Sam then asks whether it would be a good sentence to chat up girls, but Annie just answers “No chance”. She goes away and Sam gazes after her. After a tracking shot he can be seen (without his jacket) reading the files. He looks at the things the victim was carrying and then gets up in order to check the content of the plastic bag.
Nelson explains Sam and Gene which ingredients go into which cocktail, but Gene cannot keep these things in his mind.
When the cops train to handle a pub undercover, Gene draughts a pint of foam for Chris. After a short dialog the trial ends in some heavy drinking.
The pub has to be tidied up after the undercover mission. Gene is lying on a table. Sam tells Annie that Hunt would only pretend to be drunk, but he is really loaded. Sam tries to get him upright and asks him what he had found out. Gene only mumbles something and then falls off the table.
Malcolm's arrest is longer, he and Sam are rolling over the ground longer. The following interview is significantly longer as well. Malcolm says that he had stayed at home, but the cops don't believe him. They say that he wanted to blame the City fans by killing someone popular. Sam suggests that he was using his key. He denies again, then they mention that they were searching the victim's scarf for hair and skin cells. Gene says that the juries would love things like that because they felt as if they were in Columbo.
After a very short scene the next cut: After Malcolm affirmed once more that they were wrong, Sam says “One more thing.” to Gene.
Sams asks Phyllis whether the policemen should not wear protective gear. Phyllis is a bit confused and Sam asks more precisely for helmet sights and vests. Phyllis answers that they had helmets and Sam sees that he cannot do anything there and goes on.
The ending credits are missing.
The British DVD features a preview for the next episode, I cannot say whether this is the case on the German DVD.