Thanks to BBC America, I'm now watching the British series Life on Mars.
The first season consists of eight episodes, though BBCA has only shown three thus far. The first three episodes are engaging, and the plot is interesting:
Sam Tyler, a cool, sharp young detective, is working hard to keep the streets of 21st century Manchester safe from crime. But his world is turned upside down when the hunt for a serial killer becomes a personal vendetta after Maya, his girlfriend and colleague, goes missing. Desperately afraid she has been kidnapped by the killer, he sets out to find her, only to become involved in a near-fatal car accident. When he wakes, he finds himself in a different era — 1973. Is this reality, madness or a dream? Sam struggles to understand what is happening to him.
Disoriented and traumatized, 21st century Sam is completely bewildered by his new environment. As all attempts to return to his own time fail, Sam falls back on what he knows best — his job. Each episode features a different case, some of the toughest Sam has ever tried to solve — partly because of what seems like archaic police procedure. This is a world without cell phones, where cops rely on paperwork and memory instead of computers, there's no DNA profiling and what forensics do exist take two weeks to process.
Furthermore, his 1973 colleagues are insensitive, unreconstructed cops who regularly intimidate witnesses and are happy to nail suspects irrespective of whether they have evidence. Sam's new boss is hard-nosed Gene Hunt, the antithesis of everything Sam believes in. He gets results by trusting his gut instinct and, all too often, sheer brute force.
In the first episode, it becomes clear to Sam that the killer who is holding Maya in 2006 started his killing spree here and now in the early '70s. Could catching the perpetrator be Sam's key to returning to the future?
Get a quick glimpse of Life on Mars over at BBCA's website.
David E. Kelley is working on an American version of the series, set to premiere in fall of 2007. This has me almost as nervous as when I first heard about the American version of The Office, but that series turned out fine. I'm quite certain that the British version wouldn't do too well in the American mainstream, but I trust David E. Kelley to write it well for the American audience. Still, an American version will have to take care to recreate the not-so-nostalgic nostalgia of the 70s like the original series. Hopefully it won't be full of kitschy That 70s Show moments.
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