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Life On Mars: The Complete First Series (U.K.)

4.7 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The time-warping detective series seen on BBC America

Dreaming, delusional, or displaced in time? Police detective Sam Tyler (John Simm, State of Play) must decide which describes him in this intriguing twist on the police procedural that has won two International Emmys® and rave reviews from critics and fans.

Hot on a killer’s trail in modern-day Manchester, Tyler gets struck by a passing car and wakes up in 1973. The high-tech tools and respect for proper procedure have vanished. Instead, he finds himself working on a homicide squad where hard drinking replaces hard thinking; forensics takes weeks to analyze; and his boss, DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, Cranford), has no qualms about roughing up suspects--or Sam himself. Still, Tyler has real-world crimes to solve, even as strange voices call him back to his 21st century life. But when he bonds with sympathetic policewoman Annie Cartwright (Liz White, The Fixer), Sam wonders: does he really want to return?


  • Audio commentaries for every episode with cast and crew
  • "Take a Look at the Lawman," an hour-long documentary with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • Interview clip with director Bharat Nalluri
  • "The Music of Life on Mars" featurette with composer Ed Butt
  • "Get Sykes" featurette with production designer Brian Sykes
  • Outtakes reel


A thoroughly engrossing and unpredictable police drama with a fantastic twist, Life on Mars concerns Manchester, U.K. police detective Sam Tyler (John Simm), who is hit by a car while investigating the disappearance of a colleague. When Tyler comes around, he's still in the street where he was knocked down--but the year is 1973, 23 years before the accident. Certain he's dreaming or in a post-accident delusion, Tyler drifts through the streets in shock and skepticism about everything he sees--especially the dark, smoky, thuggish atmosphere of his police precinct, nothing like the clean, high-tech office with which he's more familiar. After a brutal introduction to his boss, Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), Tyler tries to reconcile his apparent responsibilities as a 1973 cop with disturbing suggestions he is trapped inside his own mind, suffering a coma in the 21st century.

Part of the fun of Life on Mars is watching Tyler come to terms with the primitive state of crime-solving in the era of Starsky and Hutch. Forget state-of-the-art investigative science, and forget institutional regard for suspect rights and police procedure. Rather than accept Hunt's status quo, however, Tyler fights every step of the way for progressive policing, putting him on a daily collision course with other cops. Still, over the eight episodes in Series One, Tyler does make some inroads and gains the respect of his commander--which doesn't mean the two don't throw their fists at one another regularly. As anxious as Tyler is to get back to the future, his romantic connection to a policewoman (Liz White) helps ground him (or trap him?) in his perhaps-unreal surroundings. Still, there's a question: is there a reason Tyler has turned up in a year when he was still a little boy, facing difficult times? The answer is remarkable, as Life On Mars: Series One moves toward a powerful conclusion. Life on Mars proved such an attractive concept that the show was remade for American television in 2008, starring Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler and Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt, and with Gretchen Mol, Michael Imperioli, and Lisa Bonet also in the cast. --Tom Keogh

Stills from Life on Mars: Series 1 (U.K.) (Click for larger image)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: July 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 466 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001V7YZHU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,346 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life On Mars: The Complete First Series (U.K.)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I am ecstatic to see this wonderful series from the UK come out on DVD for us Americans to own. Life on Mars is one of the best live action series I have seen in a long time with a combination of great drama, comedy, and superb performances by all involved. John Simm and Philip Glenister who play Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt are especially fantastic, their chemistry as a team is exceptional.

If you happen to have seen the US series please give this version a chance as well. While the premise is the same they are very different in tone. The original UK series is grittier and the 1970's Sam finds himself in is much more politically incorrect adding a bit more conflict and spice to the series. Sam and Gene's relationship is also more of a buddy cop type compared to the father/son type relationship you get from the US version. Even the ending is completely different and in my opinion much more emotionally satisfying than the US one. The UK series is really one of a kind and should not be missed.

Note: This DVD only has the first 8 episodes of the series. The DVD with the final 8 episodes will be coming out sometime in 2010.
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Format: DVD
The premise of Life On Mars sounds strange - a modern day cop has an accident and wakes up in 1973 - and it could have misfired very badly. It doesn't, though! John Simm is perfect as DI Sam Tyler, the modern cop who's suddenly policing a very different Manchester. He brings the right mix of vulnerability, confusion and depth to the character. Is he mad, in a coma, or has he gone back in time? he doesn't know, and neither do we.

Philip Glenister plays DCI Gene Hunt, Sam's new boss in 1973. He's crass, foul-mouthed, sexist, bigotted, and has an insult for everyone. He's also corrupt, but he's not the bad guy...everything is shades of grey.

Life On Mars is a fascinating show. On one level it's a cop drama, but there are a lot more levels underneath it. Add to that a fantastic soundtrack, and it's a show you will watch over and over again.
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Format: DVD
One of the most unusual, subtle, and philosophically sophisticated series to grace the small screen!

Our first glimpse of DCI Sam Tyler isn't very promising. He's coolly efficient at his job, but doesn't seem to derive anything more than a grim satisfaction from it. He's dating a subordinate, which tells you everything you need to know about his social life.
Then he is thrust into a bizarre situation: after a near-fatal car accident, he finds himself in 1973. Why 1973? He doesn't know. Complicating Sam's already impossible situation is that some of his senses (especially sight and touch) indicate that he is in 1973, while others (especailly hearing) indicate that he is lying comatose in a 2006 hospital bed.
Lost, confused, and frightened, Sam attempts to work out what has happened to him... and how to get home to 2006. If he can't trust his memories or the evidence of his own senses, what can he trust?
Very slowly, Sam begins to change. He smiles. He rediscovers and reconnects with what he's lost--a family cat, football matches, then his mother and father. We see that 1973 Manchester is, economically, a much bleaker place than 2006 Manchester... but it's also warmer, more organic, all earth tones in contrast to sleekly modern 2006, which is filmed in cool blues and greys. Sam's 1973 bedsit is hideous, a garish riot of oranges and browns, but it's also more lived-in than his spotless white-and-chrome 2006 flat. But 1973 isn't a lost paradise, either; "Life on Mars" doesn't hide 1973's flaws or film it through a rose-coloured camera lens. It shows us what we have gained, and what we have lost along the way. We see that the reforms in policing that stifled Sam and his colleagues in 2006 are a direct reaction to the police abuses Sam sees in 1973.
Read more ›
2 Comments 38 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
There is a one star review for this item from a person who has only seen the American version of Life on Mars. That review grouses about "only 8 shows" and that this is "only half a season."

This is NOT a short season. In Great Britain, seasons are 8 shows. If you watched it on BBC, you waited a year to see the next season. Doctor Who is the only current British show to have 13 episodes (like an American season). You end up with 16 total episodes, each a year apart.

As for PRICE: a full season of Doctor Who is between $65 and $75 per 13 episode season, so the price is absolutely in line with that. Judging the British counterpart by its American (failure) is a really poor idea by someone who doesn't *know* anything about the British season and has now artificially lowered the rating of this superior British piece.

BBC's Life on Mars was amazing as it came out. It really ignited my imagination. John Simms gives a stellar performance. If you like the American series, the British series is much tighter, has better symbolism, reminds viewers that the past is different than the present, and it puts into perspective modern detective work as it's performed without CSI and million-dollar-crime labs.

Another BBC show that's trumped its American re-shoot.
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Format: DVD
I have been watching this series for the past month and find it one of the best I have come across. The premise is You have a modern day cop, Sam Tyler, who after having an accident ends up in 1973. As he states in the opener, he is not sure if he is mad, in a coma, or back in time. The series would make you believe all three are the answer.

The gem here is Sam's interaction with DCI Gene Hunt as they come head to head over policing. Sam brings the modern analytical methods where as Gene bashes heads mainly and relies on his instincts. With a solid set of supporting characters the show has kept me well enteretained.

This DVD is the first of two seasons. The show is now continueing into a sequel called Ashes to Ashes, minus John Simm. And they are also in the works with an American version.

I would recommend this show anyone.
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Is all the music in this DVD?
Point taken, I suppose I assumed that what people really wanted to know was whether there were differences between the US and UK DVD releases.
Aug 19, 2009 by DPK |  See all 13 posts
Region 1
About one month ago I called the BBC America shop. According to them, there is no concrete release date for a Region 1 DVD collection. However, she HINTED in a VERY roundabout way that there MAY be a release of Series 1 sometime in 2008, POSSIBLY. (Nice and vague, eh?) My guess is that they... Read More
Dec 5, 2007 by James H. Adams |  See all 7 posts
eng subs
Yes, it does, and also a load of special features.
Aug 19, 2007 by Jen |  See all 2 posts
An American version of the show?
I have yet to see the British version, but the American version, so far, is really good. I was surprised at the quality of the U.S. version. All of the lead actors are great, and the stories are gripping. It's good to see Harvey Keitel doing quality work now.
Nov 14, 2008 by bass boy |  See all 7 posts
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Life On Mars: The Complete First Series (U.K.)
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