Friday, April 3, 2009

Life On Mars Finale

In some ways it is a shame that the US adaptation of the BBC series "Life on Mars" has come to an end. On the other hand, it would have been more annoying had it gone on for season after season, only to ultimately be canceled without resolution. As it is I'm still a bit unclear as to whether it was conceived of as a 13 episode run or if they simply got word in time of its cancellation to tie it up.

I generally found the US version more satisfying than the British one. I picked up the BBC version when I had on-demand cable and frankly had a hard time sticking with it. While I applaud the Beeb for NOT doing a "Hollywood ending" (Sam Tyler commits suicide by jumping off of a building), they also leave it ambiguous as to what, exactly, his status was (crazy? coma? dead? time traveler? We never really find out).

The US version ends on quite a different note, though I suppose some people will find it a bit too "literal" an ending for a series titled "Life on Mars." Sam turns out to be part of a manned mission in 2035 to the Red Planet (the mysterious "Project Aries" referenced during the series) to search for life, or a "gene hunt" (which is the name of Sam's boss in 1973). "Gene" turns out to actually be Sam's father in the 2035 reality, his neighbor "Windy" is the ship's computer, "Annie" is a mission Colonel. They also threw in a tidbit that President Obama wanted to be there at Mission Control to communicate with them (making you ask "Obama?! But. . .but, it's 2035! How can he still be President?) then Mission Control tells them that President Obama couldn't be there because SHE had to visit her father, who is very ill.

I guess I liked it because it was completely outside anything I was guessing throughout the series - it had been set up at the beginning of every episode that Sam was a cop in 2008, hit by a car, woke up in 1973 that the scenarios the character had presented (crazy? coma? dead? time travel?) seemed like the only solutions. Who could have guessed, especially given the ending of the BBC series, that Sam was not only NOT a cop, but that his present was 2035, and BOTH his realities (2008 and 1973) were just computer simulations/entertainment while he was in suspended animation for transport?

As you may have guessed, given my previous post about TV shows that were killed before their prime, one of my pet peeves with TV networks is canceling shows without at least giving them a chance to resolve the mysteries they present, so it was a nice change of pace to FINALLY get a short-lived series all wrapped up with a tidy bow.

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