Release: May 27, 2012 - Author: Buster - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB - more from this 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.
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 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).
International TV Version: 50:49 min PAL (no end credits)
Original Version: 57:45 min PAL (no end credits)
Difference: 14 extended scenes with a total length of 6 minutes and 56 seconds.
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt witnessed an act of violence. When he's testifying at court, the victim claims it was nothing but an accident. Gene is furious.
Gene: "The jury was nobbled."
Sam: "Well, if the victim suddenly decides it was all an unhappy accident, what do you expect them to do?"
Gene: "What happened, Davie?"
Davie: "You got it all wrong."
It doesn't look good for Gene Hunt. After the trial, he threatened the defendant Terry Haslam to kill him. After Gene got wasted at the pub, he wakes up next to Haslam's corpse. He can't recall a thing. Shots were fired from his service weapon. Sam and Phyllis Dobbs accompany him to a jail cell.
Gene: "Get me out, Sam."
Frank Morgan from Hyde has been reassigned as new Chief Inspector as long as Gene Hunt is a prime suspect in a murder investigation. He would like to be the first one to interrogate Hunt but Sam already had the same idea. A short part of him talking to Hunt has been removed.
Sam: "Look. I will ensure this investigation is carried out in as tranparent..."
Gene: "I don't want see-through. I want fast."
After the interrogation by Frank Morgan, Gene Hunt is being taken back to his jail cell. On his way over there, he bumps into his associates.
Chris: "You all right, Guv?"
Gene: "Never been better."
Ray: "It's a fit-up, Guv. It's obvious. Obvious."
Gene: "Remember the picky pain, Sam."
Sam: "What do you think?"
Annie: "It's not what I think that matters, is it? It's what we find."
Gene is being interrogated by Chief Inspector Morgan. Gene's lawyer Merrick is also present. Apparently, Merrick is heavily wasted and interrupts the interrogation by singing 'Go down, Moses'. At least he kind of knows how to carry a tune.
Morgan: "With all due respect, Mr Merrick..."
Merrick: "Yeah. Given that you've not yet charged my esteemed client, I don't see how you've had the brass to hold him as long as you have."
Morgan: "I think I've explained we're awaiting further testimony before sending the case to Discipline and Complaints for a dicision."
Merrick: "That's hardly my client's problem. Oh, with the very greatest respect Detective Chief Inspector, put up or shut up.""
Morgan: "Considering the nature of the office..."
Merrick: "'No more shall they in bondage toil'..."
Morgan: "...And... and the fact..."
Merrick: "'Let my people go!'"
Morgan: "Taking into consideration..."
Merrick: "'Go down, Moses, go down to Egypt land. Tell old Pharaoh: Let my people go!'"
When Merrick has to laugh about one of his own comments, he chokes. He puts a tissue on his mouth and wipes his drool away. Subsequently, he slaps Gene on his back. Gene doesn't like it at all.
Merrick: "I'm fine, I'm fine. Come on, lovely lad. We're done."
Sam is looking around in Frank Morgan's office. His attempt to get the door without attracting any attention has been removed.
Ray and Chris were supposed to watch Gene Hunt who's been released on bail in the meantime. Gene can get rid of his tail and Chief Inspector Morgan doubts whether the team is capable of actual police work. He puts an APB on Hunt and dispatches the team. But Sam stays at the office to make a call. He's being put through to Hyde 2612 but it's himself who answer at the other end of the line.
Sam: "I need Hyde. Hyde 2612."
Operator: "One moment please. Connecting you now."
Sam: "Who is this?"
Voice: "Who is this?"
Sam: "Who are you? What do you want?"
Voice: "Who are you? What do you want?"
Sam figured out there was a connection between Hunt and the victim. Hunt has kept it a secret so far. The following comment has been removed from a conversation between Sam and Annie.
Sam: "I knew something was going on, you know, in tat courtroom. The way Gene and Haslam looked at each other. Unspoken messages."
In the evening, Sam, Ray and Chris meet at the pub. The conversation gets heated.
1 min and 6 sec
Sam: "The best thing we can do, the only thing we can do, is our job. So we gather evidence, we make our case and we bring him in."
Ray: "Shut up."
Sam: "What I'm trying to say..."
Ray: "I don't care. So shut your sodding mouth."
Ray: "Sergeant Carling to you. Sir."
Sam: "Don't do something you might regret."
Ray: "What I do regret is the day you walked onto my beat. Now, you might get to be my DCI, but I don't think for one minute you'll be a tenth of the copper Gene Hunt was."
Chris: "You're a good policeman, Sir. You taught me a lot. But it won't be the same without the Guv."
Gene is waiting for Sam in his appartment. One of Gene comments has been removed from their subsequent conversation.
Gene: "Yeah, and then I wake up to find Haslam starring back at me, his blood all over the walls."
Hoping that Gene can remember anything, Sam and he decide to return to Terry Haslam's appartment to look around. The conversation at the beginning s missing.
1 min and 29 sec
Sam: "Do you remember anything? OK. OK. Quarter to twelve. You put a brick through the window. Haslam runs out, we drive off. You jump out of the car and stagger off looking for your gun. Say... ten to twelve."
Gene: "Yeah. You're not telling me anything new here."
Sam: "We're working it through. We're looking for something that might spark a memory. Where did you go after you got out of the car? Do you remember picking up the gun?"
Sam: "Did you come back straight to Haslam's? Did you have a kip, trying to sleep it off? Did you fall over? Cut yourself? Did you kick a cat?"
Gene: "No. Not a sodding thing."
Sam: "OK. So you're next heard heading towards the house at 3.30. So let's say Haslam opens the door."
Extended shot of Sam looking around in the appartment.
Sam and Gene figured out the identity of the real killer. In the process of finding him, they're being tailed by Ray and Chris who have the order to arrest Hunt. With the help of a buddy, Mickey Holmes, Hunt can distract them.
Sam: "Hang on. How did you get...?"
Gene: "Mickey Holmes. He owes me one. 78, he still drives like a bloody lunatic. Mind you, he better not scratch the paintwork."