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Life on Mars



  • International TV Version
  • Original Version
Release: May 28, 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 eigth episode of season 2 and is between the uncut British Original Version and the cut Euro Version.

A total of 6:52 min was removed in 13 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.

Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 52:20 min PAL
British Version: 59:12 min PAL

Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
The episode starts with a summary of what has happened so far.

25 sec.

On the way to the crime scene Gene, Sam, Ray and Chris cross ways with a marching band. Gene has no other option than going backwards and looking for another version.

24 sec.

During a briefing, Sam says to Gene that they obviously have different opinions about correct police work. A short part of the dialog is missing.

11 sec.

Gene: "And yours is?"
Sam: "Serve the public trust. Protect the innocent. Uphold the law."
Gene: "Training college?"
Sam: "Robocop! You can't uphold the law by breaking it."

Sam talks to Annie. He is positive that he will be able to return to 2006 soon and therefore tells her that he will have to leave soon. A small part of the chat is missing again.

11 sec.

Sam: "Soon."
Annie: "For how long? Holliday?"
Sam: "It's er... family and friends. But I... I was wondering..."

The police has reliable information that the salaries for a mining compary are supposed to be stolen. A suspicious worker at the company, Donald Sykes, is being interrogated. A sentence is missing here.

3 sec.

Gene: "Who shot Danny? Talk!"

When being tortured by Ray, Sykes mentions Leslie Johns, who supposedly is behind the planned heist. In his apartment, Sam listens to the tape of the "interrogation" and makes notes.
In the year 2006,, a brain tumor is supposed to be removed from his head. The light in his apartment (1973) starts to flicker and the TV screen turns into an ECG. Sam gets ready to wake up but gets distracted when Annie knocks at his door.

37 sec.

Voice: "Scalpel. Ready for first incision. Here we go. That's it."
Sam: "You're operating. It's begun."
Voice: "Let's hope he's strong enough."
Sam: "I'm strong enough, Mr. Morgan. You can cut that cancer out."
Annie: "Sam?"

In order to get Leslie Johns, Gene decides to go undercover and pretend to be Donald Sykes, who Johns has not met yet. Sam secretly tapes the briefing. He manages to hide the recorder under a sex magazine just in time. Gene confronting him with this cannot be seen in the International Version.

35 sec.

Gene: "This my copy of 'Just Jugs'?"
Sam: "Yeah."
Gene: "What are you doing with it?"
Sam: "There's an interview with Kingsley Amis that I really want to read."
Gene: "Kingsley... You know, the saddest thing is, I believe you."

Sam, Ray and Chris watch Gene making contact with Leslie Johns.

6 sec.

Meanwhile, Gene was introduced to the plan by John. The heist is supposed to take place in the train which brings the salaries to the mine. The detailed instructions to the team are missing here.

29 sec.

Gene: "Remember, you're dealing with a psycho. Ray and Sam, you'll replace NUM security and ride with the wages. Up for a bit of play-acting, Raymondo?"
Ray: "Doddle, Guv, It's not 'Hamlet'."
Sam: "That's good, because 'Hamlet' is a tragedy."
Ray: "Trust you to know that. Poof."
Gene: "Chris and Annie, you'll be on board as train staff. Sorry, Cartwright, but they'll be expecting a bird."
Annie: "Are you sure this is the only way to nail him, Guv?"
Gene: "Of course it is. I don't do this for me health, you know."

Sam meets up with Frank Morgan.

1 min. and 1 sec.

Sam: "I met Vic Tyler."
Morgan: "Really? Where is he?"
Sam: "He's gone away."
Morgan: "And your mum, Ruth?"
Sam: "I don't know. No. No, wait, she... she spoke to me. I heard her on... on... on my radio."
Morgan: "She's in your head, Sam. You've lost your memory and replaced it with your undercover identity."
Sam: "No. No. You, you're in my head. I'm being saved by some brilliant surgeon in the future somewhere."
Morgan: "Sam. You have an amazing mind, but it's damaged. Look at their graves."

Sam goes to the pub, where he finds his colleagues "preparing" for the upcoming preparation.

1 min. and 49 sec.

Gene: "Right, now this is serious, OK? Going to be crossing a line here. But whatever happens, I want you to know I'll be right in there with you. We're going to stop this bastard from killing more innocent people."
Ray: "To the Guv."
All: "To the Guv."
Gene: "Good Luck."
Sam: "To the Guv."
Nelson: "I see a darkness in you, Sam."
Sam: "Oh, you can see into me, can you, Nelson? Well, come on then. Am I mad? Huh? Is this real? Come on. I just want to know the truth."
Nelson: "We all want that, Sam. What's real. What's not. I see folk who walk about in a sunken dream, 'cause they feel nothing. Are they alive?"
Sam: "I wake up every morning and I tell myself I am alive."
Nelson: "When you can feel, then you're alive. When you don't feel, you're not."

The operation starts. Sam and Ray take their places as guards.

39 sec.

Sam: "Here we go. No histrionics. The less we say, the less chance we have of getting out."
Ray: "Tricks of the trade."
Sam: "All right, mate? Transferring wages to the colliery."
Employee: "I don't know you two. Where's your D-7? Load up."
Sam: "Ta."

Last instructions in the train.

22 sec.

Sam: "Make sure we secure Johns before he has the chance to take one of you hostage, OK? OK?
Ray: "The Guv says we don't nick 'em until they've got their hands on a substantial load of cash."
Sam: "How do we know when that is?"
Ray: "We wait for the nod. He's in charge here."
Sam: "I didn't start this. It was Hunt."