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Life on Mars



  • International TV Version
  • Original Version
Release: May 24, 2012 - Author: Buster - Translator: Mr Miau - 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 comparison covers the fourth episode of season 2 and is between the uncut British Original Version and the cut Euro Version.

A total of 6:13 min was removed in 13 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.

Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:05 min
British Version: 57:18 min

Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
Annie and a colleague are late for a briefing. Sam asks what happened, but the constable answers for her, amusing the other people present.

26 sec.

Sam: "Annie? What's happened?"
Constable: "We were arresting this suspect. He were a little lad, but he were too strong for Cartwright. Felt her tits and legged it off down the street."
Annie: "Yeah, well, he took me by surprise."
Sam: "You OK?"
Ray: "I told you this'd happen. Fine behind the desk, shit on the streets."
Gene: "I am talking here!"

After the briefing, Sam asks Annie personally how she feels. She reacts dismissive.

37 sec.

Sam: "You OK?"
Annie: "Fine, thank you, Sir."
Sam: "Buy you a drink?"
Annie: "No, thank you."
Sam: "At least let me walk you home."
Annie: "Why would I want you to walk me home?"
Sam: "Because you heard what the Guv said. There might be a killer on the loose."
Annie: "Well, are you walking Chris and Ray home? I don't need your help. I can walk myself home, Sir."

The corpse of the yound woman was identified. The Euro Version lacks the shot of the husband recognizing his wife and collapsing while Annie comforts him.

18 sec.

Shortly afterwards, Annie and Sam are sitting in the car. Sam talks a bit more about his aunt Heather. When believes he hears something on the radio, he tries to improve the signal, but all attempts to do so fail.

29 Sek.

Sam: "She's one of those people that as soon she walks into a room, the world's a better place."
Annie: "What are you doing?"

Gene and Sam are observing a suspect called Roger Twilling, who was identified by the witness Denise Williams. During the observation, Sam notices a red Lotus Elan Sprint.

20 sec.

Sam: "Hey. Hang on. Over there. Red Lotus. Denise Williams was thrown out of that car by that man."
Gene: "So? He pushed a bird out of a car. Doesn't make him a bad Bloke."

Sam works out. When he takes a break during jogging, he hears a public telephone ring. Sam answers the phone and thinks that he can hear his aunt Heather on the other end of the line.

Back home, the first thing he does is cooking something.

1 min. und 19 sec.

Sam: "Hello?"
Heather: "Hello? Hello?"
Sam: "Auntie Heather?"
Heather: "I'm sorry, love, wrong number."

A short shot of Sam trying to install a new antenna on his TV set is missing.

9 Sek.

Sam: "Talk to me, somebody."

A bit is missing in the scene in which the whole team is sitting in a transporter and observing Roger Twilling as well.

5 sec.

Gene: "If tis is the future of policing, Gladys, we want to learn from the master."

Annie and Sam prepare a covert investigation.

1 min. und 1 sec.

Sam: "So we met on the canal footpath. Spring, 1970. I was lonely, I was... you know, wondering if I'd ever find 'her'."
Annie: "Her?"
Sam: "Yeah, the one. You know, the one we're all searching for."
Annie: "Me dog was struggling. Thought it was going to drown."
Sam: "Terrier."
Annie: "Airedale terrier. You jumped in and saved him. You were my hero."
Sam: "Sure you want to do this?"
Annie: "We were married a year later"
Sam: "Might get a bit dangerous."
Annie: "You were never lonely again."
Sam: "Annie."
Annie: "We had a lovely honeymoon in Blackpool. I was so surprised you were still a virgin."

Annie and Sam, who call each other Cherie and Tony Blair for this operation, were invited to one of Roger Twillings 'exclusive' party. An insignificant part of the conversation during dinner is missing.

1 min. und 2 sec.

Guest: "We go to spain every summer. Benidorm. It's beautiful."
Mrs. Luckhurst: "Have you ever been to spain, Mr. Blair?"
Sam: "Please, call me Tony. Only to Barcelona. I went to see the Gaudís"
Mrs. Luckhurst: "A man of culture. How exciting."
Roger: "Do you like travel, Cherie?"
Annie: "Oh, I love to lay in the sunshine. Erm... I let Tony do the galleries and the churches and I just lay on my back in the sun."
Carol: "Time for dessert, I think."
Sam: "So, Roger, how's business?"
Roger: "Oh, these are difficult times for all of us. The TUC have Heath on the rack and are trying to destroy us all. But it'll never happen. I've got a cousin who works at Conservative Central Office and he told me that if Wilson gets back in, there's a secret plan for the armed forces to oust him and put Mountbatten in as head of state."
Guest: "Good man, Mountbatten."
Carol: "No politics at table. Now, we have Black Forest gateau and raspberry pavlova."

Sam is alone with Carol Twilling and tries to interrogate her. A short sentence of her is missing.

5 sec.

Carol: "Your concept of marriage is a bit bourgeois, Tony."

The final interrogation is missing one shot as well.

4 sec.

Sam: "Who was that girl, Twilling? Was that Denise Williams?"

Twilling's lawyer shows that he is not easy to handle.

11 sec.

Gene: "If that gets in the papers …"
Lawyer: "Into the papers? It'll be on the front of every newspaper in the world, gentleman, if you persist in persecuting my client in this way."

The remainder of the running time difference is a result of the missing preannouncement of the next episode after the ending credits.