"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life On Mars: The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler

What’s real, and what’s not real?

This episode wasted no time at all in telling me that the mystery surrounding Sam’s predicament is fresh on his mind and not shuffled off to a comfortable back seat already. I am going to be invested in this show to learn what the heck is going on. As long as I'm constantly getting fed information and clues, I should be happy. It’s when the clues lead to nothing new that gets me pissed off .

What Sam was writing on the chalkboard (and, as I saw later, the mirror in his apartment) shows that Sam is thinking like me. People who will follow this show and discuss it with friends will likely make their own mental lists of what could possibly be happening to Sam. He seemed to have it pretty well covered. Do the creators have one of those possibilities in mind for an ending, or am I already not thinking hard enough?

I’m loving the ’70s references and especially the soundtrack. The multiple references to how police business was done over 30 years ago adds some great detail to the show. What’s a little strange is that drinking on the job, the treatment of suspects and planting and tampering of evidence in the ’70s is so shocking to Sam. He knows what year it is and is old enough to know how it was done “in the old days,” so why so surprised?

Something that took me by surprise was Ray Carling’s attitude toward Sam. I just never got a feeling that he didn’t like Sam, but it all came out. It’s too bad, as I think Ray and Sam as a team feels more natural than them as enemies at this point.

Then, of course, there’s the visions Sam saw in this episode. Two times he saw the “Red Rover”-like robot, and later saw a reflection of the 2008 department in Gene’s door. I’ve got a couple of observances about these:

That robot looked a hell of a lot like the Mars Rover of today. I mean a lot. I didn’t think that was significant until Sam found the Red Rover toy in 1973. So either NASA developed the Mars Rover based on a ’70s toy, or I just witnessed something from the future mingling with the past … other than Sam, of course.
In the reflection on the window, Sam saw Maya approach him. So either she was in the same room in 2008 and happened to see Sam’s reflection just as Sam did, or it really highlights that something’s going on with Sam’s head to cause what’s going on.

Again, when Sam grabbed the Red Rover toy, I heard hospital machines. I’m probably reading way too much into this, but could Red Rover mean “red herring?”

Other points:

I was surprised that June turned out to be involved with the crime, though it’s not really a new trick for new shows to eliminate what seemed like a key character in the first couple of episodes.

The fight in the hospital was classic. Street braun trumps martial arts.

“I’m sick of this cosmic joke that everyone seems to be in on but me!” - Sam

Songs in this episode:
“All the Way from Memphis” - Mott the Hoople
“Get Down” - Gilbert O’Sullivan
“Life on Mars?” - David Bowie
“I Am a Rock” - Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel

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