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Life on Mars



  • International TV Version
  • Original Version
Release: Apr 14, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
The 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.

The Versions

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

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).

The European version is missing out on 10 sequences with an overall runtime of 6:37 min. Time designations refer to the European version.

Runtime (not including the credits)
European Version: 51:07 min
British Version: 57:47 min

Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
In the German version you at this point see the alternative title. Additionally, the image section was changed so that the title card is somewhat in the middle of the screen.
No difference in time.

Sam crosses the police cordon and walks towards his boss Gene. Several reporters call for him. Gene and Sam talk to superintent Harry Woolf.
Gene: "Harry."
Harry Woolf: "Hello Gene. Bastard of a week, eh?"
After giving Gene a cigarette, Harry also wants to give one to Sam but the latter refuses. Gene comments on this:
Gene: "He only likes the ones from a sweet shop."
Then he turns to Woolf.
Gene: "Not missing tea with the mayor?"
Woolf: "Less of that, Chief Inspector. But I'm probably missing tea with some bugger."
Then he turns to Sam.
Woolf: "So, you're the boy wonder."
Sam: "Inspector Tyler, Sir."
Woolf: "Chief Superintendend Harry Woolf. You're a lucky man. You've got the best here."
Of course, Woolf talks about Gene - he nods towards Gene to clarify what he's talking about.
Sam: "I weep happiness every morning, sir."
While Gene grimaces because of the irony, Harry starts to laugh.
Woolf: "He's not so different from you when you were my DI, Gene."
Gene: "Minus the looks, of course.."
Then he turns to Woolf.
Gene: "Wo, we got problems?"
Woolf: "I'm saying it to all divisions. The city needs to feel safe, Gene. Point is, this is under the glare, so make it clean, make it count. Yes?"
Sam: "So that would be by the book, then, sir?"
Woolf: "By the jolly old book."
Sam turns to Gene and grins.
Sam: "Let's get this party started."
61 sec.

Sam enters the police station where Phyllis tries to make some guy sign a paper. The guy is surrounded by a psychiatrist and two carers. Sam asks Phyllis what this is all about.
Phyllis: "Trying to sign him into the funny farm. (She turns to the mad person) Just sign. Come on!"
Sam: "Chris, where's the Guv?"
Askey: "You don't understand. I've been seeing things."
Suddenly, he freaks out, turns to Sam and grabs him by the jacket.
Askey: "No one believes me, but it's true. I see things. I have visions."
Sam: "Hey, hey, hey, just calm down."
Askey: "It's horrible. 'Cause i know the truth and no one else does."
Sam: "Calm down, OK?"
Askey: "The world isn't what they think. How do you think that makes me feel? I'm so alone!"
Then he grabs Sam by the collar and screams "I'm so alone!" This makes the carers pulling him away; Askey fails to fight back.
Carer: "Come on, lad."
Askey: "Get off me. Let me speak to him!"
They push the guy out of the police station and Chris shortly talks to Sam. At the end Sam says that Askey might really have some visions.
70.5 sec.

The commissioners arrive at the casino. There they meet Annie and two patrol cops.
Gene: "I didn't ask for plod."
Sam: "I did. I need statements taking from all the staff. This'll save time."
Then Gene talks to two women who just want to enter the casino.
Gene: "Good evening, ladies."
Frau: "Oh, piss off!"
Then the commissioners enter the casino. At the end of the scene, the camera pans to the casino's sign.
21.5 sec.

Tyler examines one of the casino's file cabinets. Hunt joins him.
Hunt: "Routine interviews, and you're giving Crane the third degree."
Tyler: "Somebody like Tony Crane does not rise so fast without getting blood on his hands. And as for where he's heading..."
Hunt: "Sounds like a vendetta. Tell me, was he boffing your mother up the Harris and eating all your cream horns, too?"
Tyler: "Well I know somebody just like him. No one could stop him."
Hunt: " Well, almost no one."
Tyler: "Guv, don't you ever look at somebody you're sending down and... and wish you'd done it years ago?"
Hunt: "We'll visit the other casinos in the morning. Start afresh. Now I'll have a go on the blackjack table. Never waste a night out."
Then Gene leaves the room. Sam skims through a few more drawers of the file cabinet and then moves on.
54 sec.

Sam talks to Nelson.
Nelson: "Oh. Man in medical need of a Scotch."
Sam: "There's a man who will destroy people's lives, Nelson. I've got to stop him from becoming a killer.."
Nelson: "Can you really know what a man will become?"
Sam: "You don't understand. I see things. A vision. No one understands."
Nelson: "Sam, sometimes you have to look again at who you have around you. You might find the strenght you need."
51.5 sec.

Sam tries to convince Gene to arrest Crane a little longer to be able to corner him.
Sam: "I know what this man is capable of."
Gene: "You after my sheriff's badge? You always have to fight me. Even when I'm doing it your way."
Sam: "Tony Crane is rotten to the core. It is in his blood."
Ray thinks that Sam is crazy.
Ray: "Tell Askey to shove over. There's room in that padded cell for two."
Sam: "Shut up, DC Carling!"
Ray: "DS."
Sam: "Whatever."
Gene: "Leave Tony Crane be."
Then Hunt turns to the rest of the staff.
Gene: "Double-check all statements, go through all the door-to-doors again. Chase up the dabs. We'll build this case again from ground level."
The others moan.
Ray: "Partytime."
32 sec.

Sam enters the police station and watches Harry Woolf talking to Gene Hunt.
Woolf: "Just tread carefully, Gene. The press are breathing down our necks."
When he leaves Hun'ts office, Woolf runs into Tyler.
Woolf: "Work together on this one, eh? Good lad."
Tyler enters the office and talks to his boss.
Sam: "Crane knows the law. That's why the Fraud Squad could never get him."
Gene: "Fraud ... Squad? Since when?"
Before Sam is able to answer him, Ray comes in and has a message.
Ray: "The Yard checked the prints on the hammer. Weren't proper prints at all. It's a blank. So no link to Crane."
Sam: "He lied about the Crown chips. He's guilty!"
Gene: "Doesn't add up. That young Turk bumping off everybody who has a cracking hand at baccarat?"
Sam: "We have to nail him."
Gene: "You foced me up onto a pedestral for everyone to see. The press, the public, Harry Woolf. Now you're throwing eggs at me."
Sam: "Lean on him, Guv. Just lean on him."
The door opens and Chris enters with another man.
Chris: "This is the lawyer. What do you want us to do to him... er... do with him?"
65.5 sec.

After Crane told the cops that he thinks that Sam is a time-traveler, who just is in a coma, he continues his story in the original version.
Crane: "I mean, that is bloody good, htat.."
Sam: "It gets worse. I made all of you lot up. You're all a figment of my imagination."
Crane: "You people, a fantasy created by him."
During this sentence you see Annie with a shocked facial expression.
17 sec.

A missing sentence by Crane who at this point is talking to Gene.
Crane: "You're telling me you don't know he's cracked? Come on, you know he is."
You again see Annie (still in shock); then the camera cuts to Sam.
6.5 sec.

Another missing sentecne by Crane. He wants to stress that he thinks that Tyler is insane.
Crane: "Mr. Hunt. DI Tylor thinks he's from the future. Cuckoo."
Gene looks at Sam who lowered his head and steps towards him. Then you see Sam raising his head.
15 sec.

The European version (originating from Free TV) is missing out on the credits.
36.4 sec.