DVD Corner's blog

News, dvd and blu-ray reviews

DVD Review: Life On Mars Series 2

When we last left the hero of Life On Mars, Sam Tyler (played ably by John Simm), he was sinking into a sort of acceptance with his plight – languishing in a coma in modern day England while his mind is stuck in 1973 Manchester. As we pick up the story, Tyler is trying to come to terms with his unusual situation, even as he tries to snap out of his unconscious state.

Like some of the best TV series, the log line on this one is fairly simple, but it is stretched and teased out in increasingly tense and unusual ways by the writing staff. The characters that wander in and out of the story are either physical representations of people from Sam’s real life (the murderous casino owner Tony Crane, his old mentor on the force Glen Fletcher, and the mother of his modern day girlfriend) or they are amplified offshoots of his personality. They delve into the psychology of man trying to piece together his plight but in such a subtle fashion that you can miss out on all the subtle details and still be completely satisfied and entertained.

The core of the series though is Tyler’s relationship with the head of the police department in his mind, DCI Gene Hunt. A representation of Sam’s id, Hunt tears through almost every situation demanding satisfaction and answers no matter what corners he has to cut and who he has to hurt to get them. It would be a plum role for any British actor, but in the hands of Philip Glenister, it becomes a symphony of foul language, bad behavior and glorious put downs. The character and Glenister’s portrayal of it are so strong that I imagine it was the reason the creators worked up a companion series, Ashes To Ashes, that is gearing up for a third season this coming year.

For all its strengths, the series comes to a close rather clumsily. At least for this reviewer who didn’t necessarily think that where Tyler ends up fit in well with all the material that preceded it. I hate to be so vague about it, but I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen it. And my assessment of it might turn you off from watching this series, which really isn’t my intention. It’s a brilliant series, one deserving of a DVD release in the U.S., and the kind of in depth critical study that I wish I had the time and space to give you here.


Life On Mars Series 2 – released by Acorn Media

4 disc set, 468 minutes, 16:9 widescreen, 2.0 stereo/5.1 surround

Bonus features include: The Return of Life On Mars documentary; bonus behind-the-scenes footage for episodes 3, 5, and 7 and tour of the set; the end of Life On Mars featurette


November 28, 2009 - Posted by | DVD review | ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: