If you’re a David Bowie fan, you’re probably thinking about the song. But this TV show, which ran from 2005 to 2007 on BBC1, is about something far different than what the title implies.
Some of you guys might know John Simm from Doctor Who as the Master, but here he plays a Detective Chief Inspector in modern day ‘transported’ back to 1973. The 70s are a whole different world, hence the title. Simm’s character Sam Tyler has been demoted in his new existence to just ‘Detective Inspector,’ but the real question that drives the show is if he has truly traveled back in time. After all, his new life started after an accident in 2007; what’s to say he’s not imagining everything while in a coma in the modern day?
Simm’s acting is genius, so far – I’ve only seen a couple of episodes since the series isn’t readily available on Netflix. His relationship with his partner Gene Hunt is especially interesting. It has the same elements of a police-partnership dramedy: the experienced copper who’d do anything to get his version of justice served, and the puppy-faced younger man that believes everyone deserves a chance. Hunt is crass, sexist, and homophobic, but there’s just a touch of redeeming humanity in him that’s so slim the writers must have agonized over it.
I recommend this series if you like dramas set in the past, clever detective shows, or just plain old good television. Unfortunately, there’s only two seasons to enjoy, which is hardly due to the quality of the show, since it has received rave reviews from critics and extremely high ratings. It’s even spawned an American remake, something that proves the greatness of any U.K. television program. All in all, Life on Mars is an amazing show that has all the ups and downs of a roller coaster but always manages to be simply fabulous.