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Red Right Hand: TV08: LIFE ON MARS (US): "Things To Do In New York When You Think You're Dead"
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.


TV08: LIFE ON MARS (US): "Things To Do In New York When You Think You're Dead"

Continuing my review of my favorite episodes of stuff from the last calendar year Not necessarily the best of the year, but ones I liked for one subjective reason or another.

There will be spoilers.
Godawful title aside, I like this one because this was the episode where the show proved they could stand on their own without using the framework of an original Life on Mars episode to prop themselves up. Mostly. They did pull the thing of Sam meeting his mentor when he was a young detective, but that was about it. They played it much differently.

Overall, I've been pleased with the way this US version of the show has played out, being that I was a big fan of the original. They've been infusing the original with their own sensibilities and by using the original episodes as templates, they start off keeping very true to the original. This episode was really the test case for me though, with a very American, very New York, very 70s race war brewing.

Also, Sam's man-out-of-time was this time very much his own man-out-of-time, not replaying gags from the original. His command to "freestyle" by the leader of the (not the) Black Panthers with a gun at his head that lead to him reciting "Ice Ice Baby" nearly two decades before Rob Van Winkle committed that travesty against Queen finally gave me an Jason O'Mara Sam Tyler and not an echo of John Simm (even if the echo was only in my head).

This episode played with the ongoing theme of Sam's Daddy issues interestingly, by showing us and him the father substitute he did have in the form of his mentor. Deftly in that, being still the early days of this series and it's puzzles are still being laid out and not answer, we got to see a little bending in time and reality as Sam realizes that working a case with the young Fletcher Bellow was something of a gift, because if he ever gets home, his mentor will no longer be there to greet him.

The episode had a great cast too. And I do not mean the Whoopi Goldberg stunt casting. I mean no less than three veterans of The Wire (which you will see in this TV08 series). Chris Bauer, Chad Coleman and the awesome Clarke Peters.

The show is on a winter break now, set to return paired with Lost, a much better match that Private Practice. And they left us with a cliffhanger that looks like it will definitively change the game from the UK version. Based on what I've seen so far, this episode being a strong indicator, I believe they can do right.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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