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Life on Mars



  • International TV Version
  • Original Version
Release: Apr 13, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
The 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.

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 16 sequences with an overall runtime of 5:48 min. Time designations refer to the European version.

Runtime (not including the credits)
European Version: 51:17 min
British Version: 57:05 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 original version you see a few flashbacks of the previous seven episodes. It's unknown whether or not the German DVD also includes this flashback.
47.76 sec.

The car chase is slightly shorter.
3.68 sec.

4.4 sec.

3.04 sec.

A short missing dialogue that includes a funny insider gag.
Chris: "They gotta give it up. We're the Force."
Sam: "And may the Force be with you."
This of course refers to Star Wars; however, this movie was released in 1977, therefore Chris can't get what Sam is hinting at.
89.2 sec.

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.

A short missing scene of Sam running past his parents - he gives them a smile.
8.88 sec.

A short missing dialogue between Sam and his father (Vic).
Vic: "What're you going to charge me with?"
Sam: "You haven't done anything."
5.6 sec.

Gene pushes Jimmy against the wall and asks him a question:
Gene: "Who's setting up card games at the Victoria Park Hotel, Jimmy?"
The respondent doesn't answer but looks at Hunt with a frightened facial expression. Hunt pushes Jimmy towards his colleague Tyler.
Jimmy: "I don't know nothing about no game."
Sam pushes Jimmy back towards Gene. At this point, the European version continues.
10.16 sec.

2 missing sentences by Jimmy:
Jimmy: "Victoria Park Hotel? Nothing doing!"
2.12 sec.

Sam: "Don't be scared OK? We can help."
Vic: "I love my wife. I'm not into that... That filth they make."
11.52 sec.

Sam watches his father's house a little longer before the latter comes out.
8.44 sec.

Sam and his father talk longer while waiting for the phone call. At first you see the car from a distance. The dialogue is different in both versions (in the shortened version, Vic additionally asks "How long is this going to take?", while in the original version he just comments on the game of cat-and-mouse). In the original version, Sam replies.
Sam: "They just want to keep you rattled."
During the first part of this sentence you still see the car from a distance; then follows a cut to Vic.
Vic: "They're doing a good job. All I ever wanted was security for my family."
Sam: "You don't get security playing poker."
Vic: "And you don't get rich selling mop-heads."
Sam: "Sorry."
Vic: "I just want to give my family the life they deserve."
Then follows the sentence that could already be heard in the shortened version. You see Sam who in both versions replies him.
Vic: "How long is this going to take?"
34.32 sec.

The football game of Sam and his father was shortened.
9.96 sec.

10.4 sec.

In the original version, Jimmy stertorously says "Key". After this word, Gene reacts differently in both versions. In the shortened version he says that he can't understand him, while in the original version he asks what that is supposed to mean.
1.36 sec.

Jimmy gasps the word "key" out 2 more times.
3.56 sec.

At this point there's a pretty long missing sequence that consists of several scenes.
3:44 Min.
At first you see chief Hunt entering the Pub. He talks to Sam. Sam asks Gene what he's thinking. The latter changes the subject to Vic Tyler. Sam asks him to leave Vic out of this conversation. Then they both wonder what Jimmy might have wanted to tell them with "Key". Suddenly, Sam thinks that they might have misinterpreted the word - maybe he didn't want to say "Key" but rather "Quay".

Then the original version cuts to another scene where several police officers meet up at a building close to the canal that Gene was talking about. On the floor you can read the word "Quay 4". They run into several persons who arrange a set in order to shoot a porno. The brothers they are looking for are not there and nobody wants to tell the cops where they could find them. Gene and Sam come into conflict with each other because Gene wants to look for Vic again while Sam tries to keep his father out of trouble. Unfortunately, Gene is convinced that Vic has some skeletons in his closet. Sam wants to leave but Gene tries to stop him - Sam's behaviour seems to be quite suspicious. In the end they start to fight and Sam hits Gene right in the stomach; he's able to leave the crime scene to find Vic.

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