Release: Apr 06, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: Tony Montana - 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 third 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 6:01 min was removed in 13 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:03 min
British Version: 57:11 min
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
The Euro German Version also contains the German alternate title. Furthermore the image section is different here so that the additional title is more or less centered. The title sequence remains unchanged since the second episode.
Extended shot of Hunt and Tyler talking to Coynes, the boss of the factory. He explains immigrants workingin three shifts wasn't a big deal for immigrants. But Saunders, the victim, supported the works management's plan to replace the power loomks by new more effecient ones.
The workers are at the precinct for the interrogation. Phyllis tries to bring order into it and to note the names correctly. Annie comes in. A young man grabs her ass, so she twists his arm. Sam and Gene come in. They disagree how to proceed. Sam wants to interrogate them one by one and write a protocoll for each and every one of them plus a summary of the day every evening. Gene thinks it's redundant. He gets out a 5 GBP bill and wants to know who took out Saunders. An elderly worker points at the young guy who touched Annie's ass earlier and says it was him. The young guy likes the sick joke and goes ahead with it. He calls the elderly guy his accomplice. Sam doesn't think it's funny and orders to take both of them away. Then he makes it pretty clear to all present people that he's not playing games. He explains he thought the killer was among them.
Subsequently the Original Version continues with a scene with has been removed in the Euro Version (but it appears later). Sam is sitting at his desk. Ray arrives with the stake: a cask of beer. He puts it on the ground and smiles.
Now the scene with the cask of beer in the Euro Version.
After Sam reasserted he doesn't think it was Ted Bannister, Gene and he are on their way to Ted's cell. Gene pushes Bannister so hard that he rampages. Then Sam and Gene. They discuss whether Ted's guilty or not. Gene follows his guts and Sam sticks with his investigation techniques.
Sam visits Derek Bannister to take him to the precinct. He talks to him about his family's feature and fears.
Missing scene in the pub. Sam is speaking to Nelson. He tells him he tries to be strong but he feels he was going to lose. Nelson asks Sam if he really considered Gene Hunt a hostile. Finally he says fear could be his enemy as well.
Sam and Gene talk insistently to Ted. They want him to admit he hadn't done it but Ted rejects to say that. Gene tells him to start talking because he was thirsty.
More detailed explanation from Sam how the accident took place. Short shots of the straps are also in that scene.
A short comment of Sam is missing.
The cops are running upp the stairs with brandished guns.
Extended shot of Sam sneaking through the hall, looking for the fugitive.
Sam reminds Derek he was facing at least five years behind bars if he kept going.
After Gene asked Chris and Ray to call an ambulance, the Original Version also contains a shot of Ray starting to run. Moreover Gene is concerned about Sam and asks him if he was fine. Sam nods.
Extended transition. Sam lowers his head for an extended period plus the shot of the guys on the stairs starts earlier.
The TV Version (Euro Version) lacks the final credits of course.
The Original Version contains a preview of the next episode.