I've finally gotten caught up with Life on Mars, now running its second and final season on BBC America. I actually debated about including it in my top ten TV shows of 2007 but I couldn't remember when the first season ran (I know I watched it "On Demand"). There are still a number of episodes left of the series, so I guess I can wait and put it on my 2008 top ten if it continues to entertain.
The show is about a cop, Sam Tyler, who gets in a car accident and gets transported back in time to 1973...or is in a coma dreaming up the whole thing...or is just crazy. What does he do in 1973? He's a cop.
This leads to lots of fish out of water moments, when his fellow coppers have no idea what he's talking about. Taping suspects? Surveillance? Methods of stopping cars? Proper forensics? Sam gets the job done, though it's not always easy. Meanwhile, he sees visions or gets phone calls that seem to come from his own time and lend credence to the fact he's in a coma. Still, he gets caught up in not only the cases but the people around him. Sometimes the shows are straightforward cases and sometimes there's more of Sam's internal predicament. The most recent episode, which ran on New Year's Day, had the perfect balance - an explanation in 1973 as to why Sam was feeling poorly, an explanation from his own time, and Sam watching his team investigating a case like they were on TV. Very well done.
The actors on this show are fantastic, not only John Simm as Sam Tyler. Philip Glenister plays the gruff and loyal DCI Gene Hunt; Liz White is the sweet, smart, and oh so cute Annie Cartwright; Marhsall Lancaster is the slightly clueless Chris; and Dean Andrews is the plodding and somewhat resentful Ray.
The music is great as well, all period music that makes the perfect soundtrack to coppers careening around Manchester in the early 70s.
I hope the show finishes off well, with the resolution of the mystery. Either way, I know I'll miss it when it's gone. It's good TV.