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Life on Mars



  • International TV Version
  • Original Version
Release: May 22, 2012 - Author: Buster - 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 8 sequences with an overall runtime of 6 minutes and 4 seconds. Time designations refer to the European version.

Runtime (not including the credits)
International Version: 49:54 min PAL
Original Version: 55:58 min PAL

Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.

The material we used in order to create this comparison was kindly handed to us by KSM GmbH.
After the explosion of a car bomb - which injures Ray Carling - in front of a school we don't see Gene rebuking Sam Tyler.

18 sec.

Gene: "The next time you 'know' something, Tyler, you keep it to yourself. That's an order."

Somebody stole dynamite from a builder's yard. Gene and Sam look around on site.

40 sec.

Gene: "Alpha One to base. Phyllis, get a unit over to Miller's yard. Get 'em to haul in all the Paddies for questioning. Over."
Sam: "Guv, if you piss off those Irish workers, you just piss off the whole community and then we'll get nowhere. We have to tread carefully."
Gene: "Some bastards somewhere have got over forty pound in dynamite and could blow up innocent people. Just like they did to Ray. And you're asking me to tread carefully. Take your own advice, Sam. Wake up and smell the cocoa. Now let's search this shithole and nail these Paddy bastards."
Sam: "It's coffee."

The search for the main suspect - Patrick O'Brien - leads the investigators to his flat. Gene storms into the house and calls for O'Brien. The landlady tells Gene and Sam, that O'Brian doesn't live here anymore for quite a while.

1 min. and 13 sec.

Sam: "Guv, remember... go easy, yeah?"
Gene: "And you remember, we don't let Ray down, or the people of this city. Hello, love. Where is he, then? O'Brien!"
Sam: "I know, if he was bit more assertive, he'd go far."
Gene: "Where are you, you scum? O'Brien!"
Landlady: "O'Brien? He don't live here any more."
Sam: "Guv!"
Landlady: "Not lived here for months. I made him sling his hook. Never paid his lodgins."
Gene: "Where is he, then?"
Landlady: "Down at t'alehouse. I don't know. Wherever he is, you can bet your boots he's up to no good. I wouldn't trust any of them, especially not since this bomb. I'm not letting one of them set a foot in this house again, that's for sure."
Sam: "Have you actually seen Mr O'Brien do anything suspicious?"
Gene: "Did you hear him talking to his Paddy mates?"
Landlady: "Not exactly, no. But his eyes are close together. Always a sign of someone shifty. You're not stopping for a brew?"
Gene: "No thanks, love. Better crack on"

During the arrest of O'Brien - whom they find during an assemblage of Irish workers - Gene doesn't treat the suspect too nicely.

39 sec.

O'Brien: "You're an even bigger bastard than I remember."
Gene: "Maybe your memory's playing tricks on you. No, you're right. I am a bigger bastard."

Ray - who actually is still off sick - arrives at the Pub. Sam takes Gene Hunt aside and tries to warn him.

40 sec.

Sam: "Guv. He shouldn't be here. He's got PTSD."
Gene: "The man's a hero and you're accusing him of having the clap."
Sam: "No. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I've seen it before. He needs counselling."
Gene: "He's a police officer, not a fairy. Nelson, Scotch. There you go, Raymondo. Chaser."

Sam investigates the builder's yard again. A few shots of this scene were cut out.

20 sec.

After Sam found some material which incriminates the indebted building contractor Miller inside the construction trailer, a short sequence of the briefing was cut out.

5 Sek.

Sam: "He knows these tunnels. Every access point, because he helped build them"

Gene and Sam bring Patrick O'Brien back home.

1 min. and 59 sec.

Sam: "Patrick! I think DCI Hunt has something he'd like to say to you."
Gene: "Have I?"
Sam: "Yeah.."
Gene: "Yeah, well, you know, O'Brien, we all make mistakes, eh? Sorry."
O'Brien: "It's a bit late for sorry."
Gene: "Yeah, well, no hard feelings, eh?"
O'Brien: "No hard feelings? I've been falsely accused, had the crap kicked out of me. Now I have no job!"
Gene: "Look on the bright side. Still got your health, so, you know, every cloud..."
O'Brien: "A hundred years ago, my grandfather, he worked the bogs in Connemara. He came over here to try and make a better life for his family. No one trusted him or wanted his family living next door to them, but it was all right for him to do all the shitty wee jobs the English didn't want to do. That's why I came here. Try and make a better life."
Gene: "What, taking part in a robbery?"
O'Brien: "I'd no job! I'd no money, I was desperate. Like your man Miller. Except I'll never get to run me own business, send me kids to the best schools, drive a fancy motor. Do you know why? 'Cause all our kind are good for is shovelling shit and making bombs. D'you know something, big lad? I'm sick of shovelling shit."
Gene: "Know his trouble? Not so much a chip on his shoulder, more the whole sodding chippy."
Sam: "Yeah, well, I wonder why?"

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.