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)
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