Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Life Without Mars

When the first series of Life on Mars premiered on BBC1 early last year, Work Buddy and I were up to our necks fighting a deadline. Most of that week, if the machines were powered down before one in the morning it was something of a minor miracle.

Looking back, I wondered if this might have coloured our opinion of the show. A couple of minutes before the first episode’s transmission we left the computers and retired to the sofas. Roughly nine minutes later the television was turned off and we were back at our desks, busy with the edit.

Back during the fun and games of the animation days, with short-schedule projects continually battering us over the head (as well as slapping us around the face and neck), there were a number of damn good dramas I missed out on due to time constraints including, I’m rather ashamed to admit, the first handful of episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street. So as not to repeat the mistake, for the next few years I got into the habit of assigning each new drama a video cassette all to itself and taping the first few episodes, watching them when the pressure had eased up.

With everyone going on about just how ace and skill Life on Mars was, I tuned in to the odd decidedly-odd episode and was mildly entertained. With the second series making an appearance, last week London’s Evening Standard newspaper helpfully provided a free promotional DVD containing the first two episodes of the show.

Back from Leicester, late on Sunday afternoon, I put my feet up and watched them more or less back to back to give them a second chance. Sadly it didn’t alter my earlier opinion. Sorry. The opening episode still seemed too hurried, as if they were racing ahead so they could start play-acting The Sweeney as soon as possible.

To get to where they wanted to be, the script was just too tortuously convoluted to attempt to explain the too-high high concept. Briefly chatted over a drink at the NFT bar last week, even our Friend at the BFI admitted the episode would have worked better extended with an extra half an hour running time. This morning it was interesting to read Andrew Billen’s interview with Life on Mars’ John Simm in The Times and discover the actor dumped the script straight in the trash once he got to the page when the lead character wakes up in 1973.

Last week I missed the second series’ opening episode because I was out watching TKM’s Diary of a Young Man. At home tonight, I opted for the first part of Michael Cockerall’s documentary series Blair – The Inside Story, which continues over the next two weeks. After that I’ll have to find a different excuse.


At 8:56 pm, Blogger Olaf Legend said...

I must agreeing. I miss season one, and decide to view season 2 as the hype was unbearible! And i must say i was leaving feeling quite empty. it wasnt a bad show, but i did not fancy viewing next episode. it was a bit gimmicky and seemd to be mimicking your Sweeney show.

it was shame. i wished to like it more, but for I it was not must see tv.


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