Release: Apr 12, 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 seventh 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 5:27 min was removed in 6 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:04 min
British Version: 56:33 min
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
The policemen observe a building of the university. Sam asks why they do not let the narco police do this job (that is drug related). Ray says that DJ Robinson had hit on the boss's wife on the last bonfire night, Gene adds that he did not want to have any drugs in his area.
Sam finds a slip and is a bit angry, Ray laughs and says that Trudy had asked him whether he had seen it.
The German version shows the alternative title. The image was cropped so it is in the middle.
no time difference
Detective Inspector Tyler tells the dead man's sister about his death. He goes to her flat where she has a hair dressing salon. She does not want to believe it and Sam asks her to come to the department in order to identify him.
Sam and Gene sit in the canteen, where Gene asks Annie, Ray, Chris and Phyllis one after another about the previous night. Sam almost only listens while Gene indirectly suggests the right answers to his team in order to protect them, which Sam obviously dislikes.
Sam and Gene talk longer when they enter the department. Sam says that Andrea Kemble insisted that her brother did not touch his drugs. Gene does not believe her and says that he had taken an overdose, but Sam states that he could not have done that because all of his belongings had been confiscated.
When Sam sits on the bed with the tape he thinks about what he should do. Suddenly, he is being addressed by his TV again. When he asks the TV what he should do and whether he should use the tape the program continues with some mathematical explanations. He gets angry, asks what that was supposed to mean and shakes the TV. The picture starts to get bad, he then switches the TV off and sits down again
The ending credits are missing.
A preview for the next episode can be seen on the British DVD. I cannot say whether it is contained on the German DVD as well.