Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cop Out?

Caitlin Moran, writing in The Times on Saturday, obviously forewarned us:

The final episode of Life on Mars is imminent and rumours have been abroad that two endings have been shot. In the event, this turns out to be correct. There are two endings. One for clever people, in which the show... ends with a satisfyingly dark and complex twist. And then there’s an ending for stupid people, which has been tacked on immediately afterwards, and leaves the show looking like the I Love 1973 retrotrash it always had to fight so hard to avoid being.

I wasn’t a big fan of the show from the offset. This year I did make a point to watch the episode with the all too brief Camberwick Green-puppet sequences and last week’s episode written by Mark Greig, which had Gene Hunt disguising himself as Tufty the Squirrel.

Like it or not, the last episode obviously had to be a must-see to find out how the drama resolved itself. For the first thirty-odd minutes I loved it. Especially when they started to suggest that in fact the modern-day sequence that opened the very first episode was actually the “dream” and everything had to be viewed from a completely different perspective.

That would have been an excellent way to go: completely pulling the rug out from under the audience by way of Jacob’s Ladder and the sixth season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Normal Again. That would have had me leaping off the sofa cheering.

Instead they pulled back to cater for the clever and the stupid. I ended up staring blankly at the set, feeling utterly deflated, and simply muttered “oh.”

And when it came to the final shot... 1973 it may have been. But were the producers looking back to 1968 and aiming for the final, enigmatic, and still discussed finale of The Prisoner?


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