Sunday, May 13, 2012

TV Series Review: Life on Mars (season two UK version)

Unlike the previous season it was incredibly simple for me to get a copy of Life on Mars season 2 (walking into my school's library, go to the basement, grab the DVDs and go). I love it when it's this simple to watch something legally, then again I have no idea why it's so much harder to find illegal streams of a British tv show from a few years ago versus a subtitled stream of a 10+ year old foreign cartoon. In any case, onto the review!

Life on Mars (season 2, original UK version)

Summary: Following where the first season left off, Sam Tyler is a DC in Manchester 1973 but he's really from 2007 where, as far as he can tell, he's in a coma following a car accident. He continues to obsess over what has happened to his life while solving cases and dealing with his coworkers in 1973 but doesn't seem to be making much progress as his 1973 life gets even more complicated as it goes on.

The Good: It's fun to compare this show to Grimm, which is another cop-show-with-a-twist that I've been following lately, since with Grimm I can play it in the background and still basically follow along, here the show really demands your full attention if you want to really get something out of it and it's interesting enough to hold your attention for a full episode. Each story was interesting, it never felt like the writers were taking the same plot from an earlier episode and just mixing different details in, and while the solutions weren't so simple they could be solved within the first five minutes there were enough hints for the viewer to put together the case and it's solution by the end. The characters were also fun, I was glad to see that Annie had an even more central role in this season, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this show from beginning to end.

The Bad: I have, mixed, feelings however on the ending of this series, even despite the fact that I had accidentally found out how the show ended before I even started it. The ending wasn't bad and certainly made sense with the themes the show had set up, I just have some mixed feelings on it. Part of the reason for the mixed feelings is that there is a lot left unexplained, Sam Tyler's story does seem well wrapped up by the mechanics of how the setting worked were barely touched upon and I do want to check out Ashes to Ashes to see it explained. That was my main gripe with the show, which is more because I'm a little more obsessed with settings than most people, overall it was a very strong show.

The Audio: I think the show used even more period insert songs this season than the previous and all of the choices seemed to fit in really well. I wasn't familiar with many of the songs but when looking at the lyrics it was very clear why they had been chosen and they usually provided a bit of foreshadowing as well. The rest of the music didn't stand out quite a much but the bits I do recall that it all seemed to flow well.

The Visuals: There's no change in the visual styling from the previous season, everything still has a slight sephia tone and overall the styling seemed spot on. I've seen some comments on wikipedia that there were some background details that appeared in the show that weren't period appropriate but nothing in there ever stuck out so much that it drew me out of the show.

So, not much else to say except that I need to figure out where I can find a copy of Ashes to Ashes to keep on going before I completely forget about the details here!  

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