Life on Mars (UK) & Ashes to Ashes (spoilers!)

Recently finished the (outstanding) British series, Life on Mars, and am now working my way through the sequel-Ashes to Ashes…and I thought it might be worth starting a discussion…especially since the series is getting a lot of attention due to the American remake.

Overall, I thought the series was very good, although they did push the “mythology” aspect aside for a good deal of time & just concentrated on the police stories for awhile. I was also disappointed that Sam really never did teach them very much about modern police techniques. Mostly he just got frustrated and would berate them for being so dense. He did get them to start tape recording interviews though–I would have like to have seen more things like that.

But the final episode–WOW. One of the best episodes of any series I’ve ever seen. A few disappointments:
-He never saw his girlfriend.
-It would have also been cool if he went into the archives & found that there was a D.C.I. named Gene Hunt.
-Or he could have run into an older version of Chris/Ray/Annie & there could have been an “You look familiar” moment. I know that the entire series was suppose to be a coma-induced hallucination, but it could’ve introduced a “twilight zone” twist.

I really enjoyed in the last episode,how they introduced the aspect that Sam Tyler was really an undercover cop sent from Hyde to investigate corruption in Gene Hunt’s unit & was suffering from a delusion he was from the future, coupled with amnesia. That could’ve really been stretched out for a few episodes…it actually made me question things for a moment. If the American version actually plays with this concept & introduces it earlier, it could even make the series an improvement over the original.

I’m now working my way through Ashes to Ashes, and so far, it’s a disappointment. The tone is very different–seems like it has different writers. Gene Hunt seems less human–more like an archetype. And the squad seems to have forgotten everything they learned from Sam Tyler–they don’t even record interviews anymore. (Yes, I know that this version takes place in Alex Drake’s mind, so maybe I’m looking for consistency where there shouldn’t be any). And although they do reference Sam & his death (told you there’d be spoilers!), they never mention Annie. Not crazy about turning Gene Hunt into a romantic figure, either. So far the series just hasn’t engaged me as much as the original…

Any one else have a take? And how do you think it compares to the American version?

So . . . both of those titles are David Bowie references. Relevance?

It’s implied that for a modern day person to suddenly wake up in 1973 would be like waking up on a different planet.

And, Ashes to Ashes just runs with the David Bowie theme, I guess…

They use a few Bowie references: the song Life on Mars is playing when he gets hit by a car. And Gene Hunt sometimes calls himself the “Gene Genie”

In Ashes to Ashes there is also whiteface clown symbolism.

Wait till you get to the last ep of Ashes to Ashes. It will make your head spin.

I’ve never seen Ashes to Ashes, so I can’t comment upon it, but as for Life on Mars, given his level of knowledge of the modern day, it’s never really plausible that Sam is actually from 1973 and just experiencing mundane delusion coupled with amnesia.

I was a little shocked with the ending (people and places he’s grown to love over decades, all cast away for a world he’s spent less than a year in; think of his poor mother and so on), but I’m not yet ready to pass a judgement either way on it. But I probably will soon…

I really admired the ending. I couldn’t see how they were going to get out of the story without pissing me off - Sam is really in the present and dreamed the whole thing in hospital, no thanks. But the composite “how do you like this?” ending was so emotionally pleasing that I didn’t even question the premise. I think it is one of the great endings to a story.

I should add I don’t felt like he “gave away” anything. I just took at as a choice of realities. Both are 100% real to Sam but only one of them works for him.