Release: Apr 11, 2012 - Author: pippovic - Translator: Mr Miau - 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 sixth 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 5:45 min was removed in 20 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 51:16 min
British Version: 56:59 min
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
Moved scene. The original version features here a scene in which the policement check their guns.
no time difference
Hunt says that as soon as they had the possibility to fire a safe shot their work was done. Then Sam explains that he wants to work with the hostage taker by gaining his confidence. His colleagues seem to have never heard of the concept of quid pro quo which he wants to apply as quid pro hostage. The cut version shows the scene from 7:02 instead. (and was not taken into account for the time here)
After the hostage taker stops answering Sam looks confused and turns around to his colleagues.
Hunt says that the epicentre of the crisis was out there and not where they were, but Sam does not repsond.
Sam opens the rear doors of the bus. He looks around, moves some buckets and then climbs into the bus.
Sam searches the wardrobe in the hostage taker's flat longer and looks at some books.
Sam returns to the hostage situation. He tells Hunt that the hostage taker seems to have fough in the war and had been decorated. He was into honor etc. and Sam claims that he could now work with bim. Gene does not asnwer but looks sceptical.
When Ray and Chris are having some tea, Annie approaches in a nun's uniform and Gene wants to give her a gun which she is supposed to hide in her slip. Sam says that they should not underestimate him and that he would probably search her. After some discussion Gene takes the revolver again. This all is being accompanied by some sexist statements by Chris.
After Reg brought Gene, Sam and Annie in the room, Sam asks Reg whether he could not do something for him after he just saved the situation for him. Reg then throws Gene's gun out of the window. When Gene says that he should have kept his (Gene's) gun because Reg's looks rather broken, Reg says that his old gun was being oiled every day.
Sam continues to talk to the hostage taker and asks him what this was about. He answers “Injustice”.
Jackie compliments Gene for his new hair cut and then looks around for the hostage taker.
For continuity reasons her turn back towards Gene was cut as well.
Annies is looking after Doris. The journalist (also a hostage) is searching for something to drink and Annie gives him the flower vase from which he drinks. More shots of the nervous gangster and of Sam and Gene are missing. Sam says that he was testing both himself and them.
After Jackie criticized Reg's text, she is suggesting an alternative. She says that their readers would just fly over that and start reading at the point where he shoots them all. When she says that she would get a posthumous Carnegie award for that, Gene just looks at her in an unsympathetic way.
After Sam says that he felt isolated, Reg is having a little monolog about the Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's castle. A man out of time, stranded in a heathenly world. Sam nods because this also applies to him, then he says that Reg now thinks he had to prove something. Gene also cannot hold back anymore and says that non of this would have happened if Reg had been able to have some sex. When Jackie says he should be quiet he says that at least he says things into his face and does not hide behind tomorrow's newspaper.
After Gene's gallows humour Sam joins in and says that he was relieved now because he had though they were in trouble. He and Annie smile at each other.
Gene is sitting down, the full movement and a close-up of his face can only be seen in the original version.
The complete scene with Litton was cut out. After Litton accuses him of having assaulted a colleague, Gene defends himself by saying that Litton had been a target and he was only protecting him. He then tells Jackie that he did not want to read bad things about himself in the newspaper and she says that she would only write the truth because this was her job.
Sam and Annie can be seen earlier, he says that he had cheated death. She does not understand.
Longer scene transition. At first Sam can be seen longer, looking upwards. Then the policemen are celebrating in the pub. Phyllis and Annie raise their glasses. When Hunt enters, the colleagues applaud.
The ending credits are missing.
The British DVD contains a preview for the next episode. I cannot say whether this is featured on the German DVD, too.