Release: May 25, 2012 - Author: Buster - Translator: Mr Miau - 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 comparison covers the fifth episode of season 2 and is between the uncut British Original Version and the cut Euro Version.
A total of 6:39 min was removed in 15 cuts (outro not included). Time designations refer to the cut version.
Running time (without outro)
Euro Version: 50:48 min PAL
British Version: 57:27 min PAL
Note: In the original, the episodes do not have titles. The title overlays of the German episodes will not be mentioned here.
Sam, who is supposed to be home getting over his sickness, appears for a briefing concerning a kidnapping. The woman and the child of Simon Lamb were taken in order to blackmail Graham Bathurst out of prison. A short shot is missing, Sam complains about the condition of the files when Ray interrupts him.
The following vision of Sam, in which he sees Ray sleeping with a burning cigarette in his hand, is missing as well.
Ray: "Don't come it with us. We haven't been home all night. We're eating out of cartons."
Sam: "Ray, that's your life."
Ray: "I haven't been to the pub for 36 hours."
Ray: "Mm. I don't know what you were doing at the crack of dawn, but I know where I was. All right?"
Gene tells Sam in flashbacks what has happened while he was gone. The shot of him, Ray and Mr. Lamb investigating the presumed crime scene is missing. Ray finds a child's shoe.
Simon: "Well, they'd been shopping. Stella, me daughter, she called for a lift. Then I heard them. They started screaming and shouting down the line. Bea tried to stop him, and..."
Simon: "Or them, I don't know. I could hear them struggling. They were crying out and there was nothing I could do. I... I just wanted the screaming to stop."
Ray: "Hey, Mr. Lamb. We'll find 'em."
Gene: "Right, we need to get statements from everyone in the area."
Ray: "Oh, no…"
Gene: "Don't let him see it. Get it dusted. I am not taking another father to see his dead child, Ray. Let's move it."
Annie tells Sam that she has not slept in 24 hours. Nevertheless, Sam tells her to sort a few files.
Sam: "Annie, sort all these 1972 reports from the Witham case. I want all the old statements in chronological order. I want scene of crime files separated from the statements and the eyewitness reports."
Annie: "And take a letter, Miss Jones."
Sam: "OK, well, which one of them lot do you want to do this? Larry, Curly oder Moe?"
Annie: "I'll get cracking."
Sam: "Remember, God is in the detail."
Sams asks Gene to tell him about the whole case. The following flashback explains that Graham Bathurst imprisoned in the case of the murder of young Charley Witham. One scene in the flashback is missing.
Gene: "I knew I needed a quick result. I want everyone in that little girl's life questioned. Family. School pals. Teachers."
Ray: "Hey, have you seen this? Her old sports coach, Simon Lamb. He trained for internationals. Wonder if he knows David Hemery?"
Chris: "I like the Olympics, me."
Ray: "We've got a good line-up this year. I reckon the Munich Games'll be one for the history books."
Gene: "Are you done, or should I pull up a chair? Now we're going to find this bastard for the parents, Right?"
All: "Yes, Guv."
Gene: "Right, move it!"
A few shots are missing in the flashback to the interrogation.
Gene: "We've got oil on the rag. Bloody Nora, you stink. Rough as a badger's back passage."
Graham: "Didn't let us wash."
Gene: "Your nails are filthy. Juries don't like filthy dirty hands on Bibles. And they don't like suspects with previous."
Graham: "Juries aren't supposed to know about that."
Gene: "Things slip out."
Gene offers Graham a cigarette.
Gene: "Mummy tell you not to take things from strange men? Well I'm not a stranger, Graham. I'm the best friend you've got."
Sam feels that something was not right with the interrogation of Bathurst. Therefore, he asks all of the participants to remember as much as possible. He is mainly interested in who had mentioned the name Bathurst first. Christ, who took notes, cannot remember. When Sam talks to Chris he notices a message in a typewriter. However, it gets blurred when he pulls it out of it.
Sam: "Is this your statement report?"
Chris: "Er... yeah. It's, er... it's me signature."
Sam: "OK. You got your information about Graham Bathurst from something called 4B. What's that, a class?"
Chris: "Oh, yeah, it's, er... it's one of Charley's schoolmates I spoke to. She said Bathurst collected Charley from the club the night she died."
Sam: "Which schoolmate, Chris?"
Chris Skelton tries to remember. In his mind, he retraces the interrogation of the school girls. When he asks, whether Charley Witham had friends out of school, a girl says that this should be a secret. A few short shots are missing.
Chris: "What was a secret?"
Sam asks Chris to think again. In the end they found out that Stella, Lamb's daughter, had been the first one to mention Graham Bathurst.
Chris: "God, I hate teenage girls. Give me an armed blagger any day the week."
Sam checks the sorted files and finds out about another family member of the Bathursts. Mitch Bathurst used to be a sailor and has been previously convicted. They decide to get him into the police station for questioning. However, the only meet his mother at his place.
Mrs. Bathurst "You wicked, evil sods done enough damage to this family?"
Sam: "Where is Mitch?"
Mrs. Bathurst "HMS 'Steadfast', Plymouth."
Sam: "Who's sleeping on the couch, then?"
Mrs. Bathurst "Me mother."
Gene: "Why can't Wanda have your Graham's old room?"
Sam: "Perhaps because it's occupied."
Gene: "No, you don't."
Mitch could be innocent. In order to speed up things, Sam decides to have Lamb read out a message on the radio. A part of the broadcast is missing.
Annie: "Keep using the names. Say it over. Bea and Stella. Make sure the kidnappers hear it. They need to see your family as real people. And don't get angry."
Sam: "Remember, that ransom note is a demand for justice. So appeal to their sense of justice, Simon. And try and stick to the script. Details are vital."
Simon: "Yeah, all right."
Sam: "When this is done, I want this on air within 15 minutes."
Simon: "I'm terrified, Sam."
Sam: "You'll be fine."
Simon: "Um... you want justice because you believe an innocent man is in prison. My wife and daughter, Bea and Stella, they're innocent too, and, er... "
The radio broadcast did not succeed. A short dialog between Annie and Gene is missing in the following briefing.
Annie: "But we're in a mess here, Guv. Maybe it's because we did too much kicking and shouting and not enough listening."
Gene: "Are we about to get a recital from 'The Female Eunuch'?"
Annie mentions that this might be old mistakes catching up. Sam asks her to elaborate on it.
Another flashback shows Bathurst's arrest. Annie is now convinced that the boy then just wanted to look for help at his grandmother's and did not try to take her hostage.
Annie: "We know you're upset about Charley."
Graham: "I wasn't there, you bastards. I was at home asleep!"
Ray: "Oh, aye? Anyone see you? No, I thought not."
Annie: "Why don't you help us, Graham?"
Graham: "I never hurt her. I never hurt her! I'll end up with life."
Gene: "You're nicked!"
Some shots are missing in the repeated flashback of Bathurst's interrogation. These could actually be seen earlier in both episodes.
Gene: "She was a child."
Graham: "Look... that night I missed meeting her 'cause I was asleep at home."
Gene: "Oh, right, why didn't you say? You're free to go. SIT DOWN! You walked her home that night."
Graham: "Twelve. Ten. Forty. Numbers. All numbers. I can't think."
Gene: "The only number you need to think about is the perfect ten. It's a good value for a young girl's life."
The remainder of the running time difference is a result of the missing preannouncement of the next episode after the ending credits.