|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Sunday, March 08, 2009 |
( 3/08/2009 06:42:00 AM ) Bill S.
FUNK TO FUNKY: Last night, as a lead-in to the premiere of the series sequel, BBC America ran the final episode of the original Life on Mars. Watching it again, I couldn't help thinking that the just cancelled Americanized remake is gonna have to really work to match its source's darkly ambiguous conclusion. (Somehow, I just don't see 'em doing it.) As for the sequel, Ashes to Ashes, the first episode comes down pretty hard toward accepting the view that Mars hero Sam Tyler was in a coma throughout the entire series. His audiotaped memories of his adventures back in 1973 are even transcribed in a file carried by police profiler Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes), who obviously has studied Tyler well enough to be familiar with all the main players in his "past life."
Thus, when Alex is herself shot and sent back to 1981, she quickly recognizes the crew of coppers now wearing flare-free duds: Philip Glenister's Gene Hunt continues to rousingly run roughshod over the regs in his brutal pursuit of justice, while his underlings Ray and Chris also appear unchanged. (Only character from the original that we don't see: Liz White's appealing policewoman Annie.) Because she had just been discussing Sam Tyler's file just before her "travel back in time," Alex is convinced that these characters are all just part of a consensual hallucination. Every time she talks to Gene and says his name, she uses air quotes to demonstrate that she's not falling for it all.
Our heroine's consistent skepticism can grow a little wearisome over an entire episode, though. Part of what made the original Mars so addictive was its hero's desperate confusion over what exactly was happening to him, a question that the show never conclusively answered for either him or us. We can only hope that the next few weeks will work toward knocking out some of Alex's buzz-killing certainty. The only time DCI Hunt needs quotes around his name is when he calls himself the "Jean Genie."