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Life on Mars: Series 2 (UK)
Life on Mars Series 2
UK
Actors: John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster
Directors: Andrew Gunn, Richard Clark, S.J. Clarkson
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2009     7hr 48min

The International Emmy®-winning series seen on BBC America Same place, same job. Different time, different rules. That?s the situation facing detective Sam Tyler (John Simm, State of Play) in this British drama that TV...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster
Directors: Andrew Gunn, Richard Clark, S.J. Clarkson
Creators: Ashley Pharoah, Chris Chibnall, Guy Jenkin, Julie Rutterford, Mark Greig
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/24/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 7hr 48min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 20
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A rich and satisfying finale to the series
A. Whitehead | Colchester, Essex United Kingdom | 06/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sam Tyler is still stuck in 1973, unsure if he has somehow really travelled backwards in time or if he is merely stuck in a coma in 2006 and is fantasising everything that is happening to him. However, now he has been there for a few weeks he is getting more used to life in the 1970s and is starting to downplay the unusual auditory and visual hallucinations he continues to suffer from. But, just as things seem to be settling down, questions about Sam's previous 1970s life in 'Hyde' before relocating to Manchester arise, and set in chain a sequence of events which could lead Sam home...wherever that is.

Life on Mars' second season was the last, due to a combination of the producers not wishing to over-exploit the concept and lead actor John Simm's well-known reluctance to be typecast in a long-running television series. It was a bold decision for a series that had become a big hit on British television and done the seemingly impossible by getting audiences fired up over a cop show.

The second season offers up pretty much more of the same as the first season: Sam and Gene butt heads over their different approaches to policing, but they have, grudgingly, accepted that each has skills the other does not, and when they combine their approaches it often leads to good results. Sam and Annie continue to not quite get it together in the tradition of all great TV will-they, won't-they romances, and Sam continues to be haunted by hallucinations of his life in 2006 which relate to his current situation in 1973. The show also moves onto slightly more contentious ground in Season 2 by covering the more controversial subject of IRA terrorism in one episode whilst continuing to examine the extent of corruption and heavy-handed methods in the 1970s police force.

In my review of Season 1, I mentioned that the show's continuous use of Sam's odd mental state occasionally gets a little exasperating, as sometimes you'd quite like to just see Sam and Gene butt heads and then solve the crime without Sam freaking out every twenty minutes. The producers play on this in two episodes in particular in the second season, one in which Sam doesn't have any odd experiences and starts getting worried about the lack of them, and another in which Sam reacts very badly to whatever is happening to him in the present and has to sit most of the investigation out. This latter episode, which is by far the most 'freak-out' intensive of the series, also perversely is one of the very best episodes, with flashbacks showing how they operated before he arrived (and giving rise to the unusual sight of scenes not featuring Sam, which feels odd as he is in every other single scene of every other episode of the whole series).

Of course, as good as the individual episodes are (and they are pretty damn good), the one episode that everyone will be left talking about is the very last one. British SF is awash with series-ending episodes that leave the audience reeling and talking about them for years or decades afterwards: Blake's 7, Sapphire and Steel and The Prisoner being the most notable (Quantum Leap's befuddling finale is probably the USA's closest equivalent). Life on Mars joins their august ranks with a finale that takes the viewer on a crazy existential rollercoaster ride as we finally get an answer for what is going on with Sam, but that answer is in turn supplanted by another, contradictory one in a manner that would make Christopher Priest proud. Which is the truth and which do we believe? The finale operates on multiple levels of reality with the viewer not quite able to trust what is going on. There is a very clear 'obvious' possible answer for what is going on, but just as with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, that 'obvious' answer still leaves other, key questions unanswered.

Taken in isolation, Life on Mars' finale is very strong indeed. However, the news that a sequel/spin-off series was forthcoming which would shed more light on events did dilute the strength of that finale a bit, and Ashes to Ashes' plot developments have indeed plunged much of what we thought we knew from Life on Mars' finale into doubt. But further examination of that series is for another review.

The second season of Life on Mars (****½) is thoroughly entertaining, funny, thought-provoking and just the right side of ambiguous. It draws a line under the series and sets up the sequel series quite nicely. It is available now in the UK (DVD, Blu-Ray) and will be released in the USA on DVD in November."
1st USA review on this USA DVD set. CRIME SERIES FINALE PACK
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 10/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"WHAT IS BETTER THAN "LIFE ON MARS: SERIES ONE"?? Easy--Series Two.
It is a crime investigation drama, action packed, Emmy winning BBC series that intentionally ended itself while on the top of it's fan base. THIS REVIEW IS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE USA, N. America playable, DVD SET.

DI Sam Tyler (John Simm) is still in a 21st-century ICU ward while simultaneously fighting London criminal life in the year 1973. Will he ever return to 2006? Will his relationship with DC Annie Cartwright (Liz White) get beyond he-cop/she-cop?

Major crime investigation continues with criminal mayhem and police illegal procedures, 1973 style, oh yes, with a bit of time-travel suspense. This is the best time-travel writing since Dorothy visited OZ & the Emerald City. Series Two, has an increase in comedy moments. It's not Police/Action/Drama turned comedy, but small moments and lines that cause LOL belly chuckles. Tension breaks at unexpected times, perfectly timed. This series, as compared to Life On Mars One, also has increased police violence toward the accused. A "By-the-Books" 1973 mindset must have came from the comic books, not today's acceptable criminal investigation rules. Sam objects to that.

This has a very real feel to a period (1973) drama piece, taking the viewer back in visuals, props, sets, costumes, speech, and music. 1970s music is a vital part of the show, and pleasant background for the nostalgic viewers. Included, but not limited to, are artists and songs: David Bowie, "Goodbye Yellow House Road", "The Sweet Hellraiser", Barclay James Harvest, "In the Shining Sun", David Cassidy, Moody Blues, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Elton John, "Rocket Man", Whiskey in the Jar, Traffic, Cream, "Crossroads", The Sweets, "Love Lies Bleeding", Israel Kamakawiwi'de, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Changes", and of course, "LIFE ON MARS."

episode details:
1---Casino owner & killer in '73 is the man about to pull the plug in ICU 21st-century. Can Sam change history? Annie gets promoted.
2---Safe cracker Dickie Fingers escapes prison, gets set-up, re-nicked, and fingers a cop on the inside for protection promised by Sam. Is it true?
3---Sam's sure IRA bombs & threats are a hoax. Will DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, also of "Cranford", see my 5-star review) "rounding up" Irish solve the crisis?
4---Sam gets to go undercover as Annie's husband to investigate a social circles connection to a girl's death. Spouse key-swapping link? Tough assignment for Sam?
5---Sam helps solve a kidnapping while sick. Is a hospital overdose his illness? This episode has a twist to a twist. Packed drama.
6---Heroin, new drug on the street, is mixed up in racial bigotry. Murder raises the stakes. Then a link that topples Sam's 2 worlds.
7---DCI Hunt awakes from a drunk stupor facing a murdered body, the man Gene publicly threatened. Interim DCI Morgan finds the guilty evidence fast. Sam must find Hunt's innocence.
8---Sam finally is told his mission--what he must do to get back home (to 2006). But can he do it? There are those in 1973 he's begun to care about.

Within the USA's "Life on Mars: Series 2" 4-DVD set with 8 (approx. hour long) episodes, are Bonus Features galore.
SDH subtitles, even on some features.
documentary of "The Return of Life on Mars"
3 "Behind the Scenes" segments. #3 details the exploding car, awesome. #5 the how of a funny animation snippet. #7 deals with difficulties in an on-location period courtroom.
A tour of the set, the police headquarters, an elaborate construction
featurette on "The End of Life on Mars", a spoiler best left for after viewing all episodes.
"Tufty's Cameo" a closer look at one of the funny segments.

What a combination of drama potential, first/foremost police crime investigation, but also period excellence, a kiss of romance, outbursts of comedy, action enough to rival any contemporary film, suspense to make you jump, music to enchant but yet relevant to the story, and time travel for a twist. 3 "RIGHT ON" cheers for this USA DVD set, subtitles, and it's giant bonus package.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as is, of course, Series One (see my review on year one of this masterfully written 2-YEAR series that is concluded with LIFE ON MARS: SERIES 2."
Best british show ever
C. Smith | KS USA | 02/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I ran across this show on the BBCA and I was hooked, it introduced me to Johm Simm and Philip Glenister who are wounderful actors. the sify aspect of the show is great and I couldn't wait for the series to be out on DVD. Now I can watch when ever I want. You cant go wrong if your a fan of British tv"
The Original and Best
Roy Guill | 07/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I first heard about the American Life On Mars I thought "Good lord. How does somebody come up with THAT?" My wife and I watched the short-lived series and enjoyed it (All but the rushed and silly final episode). While searching for information online about the possibility of the show going to SyFy or some other channel I discovered the "Real" Life on Mars. If all you've seen is the pale American imitation, drop what you are doing and order Seasons 1 and 2 of the BBC original RIGHT NOW. (Even if you watched it on BBC America, you only saw 3/4 of each episode)

The performances are fantastic, the story is original and they don't pull any punches. John Simm is fantastic as the lost Sam Tyler and Philip Glenister tears it up as DCI Gene Hunt. After watching the BBC series I was frankly insulted by the dumbed-down American version. LOM takes us through Sam's journey into the past and leaves us satisfied when the series has run its course. The show is filled with great 70's-era music and is an incredible homage to the 70's cop genre while still filling the bill as a modern procedural.

Like a little cop show in your sci-fi? A little of the fantastic with your Starsky & Hutch? Pick up Life On Mars. You will NOT be sorry."