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  • Life On Mars- UK version

    Not sure where to post this because this refers to the British version of this show. I am currently watching the new one and became curious about the original TV series.

    Anyway, I wanted to know why the UK version was only on for two seasons? Is this typical timeframe for tv shows in England? Why was Sam's life cut so short? And how does its spin-off Ashes to Ashes tie in? And what's with the creator's obsession with David Bowie's songs (title of the both shows)? How does it relate? Also- are the DVDs closed captioned or subtitled?

    Many thanks!
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Obsessed View Post
    Is this typical timeframe for tv shows in England?
    I'm answering this first as it's the easiest - simply put no. We don't really have a set timeframe over here, how long the show goes on for is affected by a few things but ratings are obviously part of that. Another is the writer's perceptions of how the story should be told - which brings me on to...

    Anyway, I wanted to know why the UK version was only on for two seasons?
    When Season 1 was aired over here I think that the writers only expected it to be a one season deal, but it was so successful that they wrote another season to close up the unanswered questions from S1.

    Why was Sam's life cut so short?
    I vaguely remember when S2 aired that the writers were quoted as saying that the format was good but would get old and stale if it went on too long and therefore made the decision to kill off Sam to ensure that there could be no further seasons - quitting whilst you're on the top of your game if you like.


    And how does its spin-off Ashes to Ashes tie in?
    The spin off relates to another policeman (well policewoman this time) going back in time but to the 80's this time, and she meets up with Gene Hunt, who has changed since the 70's and now works in London instead of Manchester

    And what's with the creator's obsession with David Bowie's songs (title of the both shows)? How does it relate?
    I honestly don't know the answer to this, maybe it was simply because David Bowie is a icon of the 70's and then 80's and is British.

    Also- are the DVDs closed captioned or subtitled?
    I only have Season 1 on DVD and they are subtitled, so I expect S2 and Ashes to Ashes are as well. In fact it's a BBC product so I'm fairly certain because I think that all BBC products are subtitled

    The way I see Life On Mars is that it was a wonderful idea, given a very good cast and shone brightly for a short period - it didn't need loads of seasons to make a lasting impression. I didn't watch Ashes to Ashes when it aired, because although I love Philip Glennister as Gene Hunt, I absotively adore John Simm and no John in it/no watch for me. I heard it was just as good though, so maybe I should bite the bullet and get the DVD's after all....

    John Simm came to the British public attention for his role in the acclaimed series "The Lakes" in the 90's. It also ran for only 2 seasons. If you like his work you should also watch "State Of Play" which was a one off season drama. It is very very good and has some of the UK's brightest and best actors in it - definitely worth a watch!
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    • #3
      What ciderdrinker said

      Life on Mars was an amazing show, but it needed to end when it did - the concept was definitely finite, and would have become stale if it dragged out any longer. It is far better for a show to end on a high than to try to eke out a stale old formula for years and years simply because it was successful. The brevity is a major factor in that success - the writers knew from the start that they had to tell a concise story, and they did.

      Ashes to Ashes is a good example, in fact, of why an idea shouldn't be dragged out past its sell by date. It was rushed into production on the back of LoM's success, but never came close to touching the brilliance of the original - the concept just didn't stretch that far, and as a result the show fell flat.

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      • #4
        LoM is definitely one of the best shows i've seen, possibly ever. As for the longevity, well as above it actually keeps the whole thing sharper and more coherent to me and there's definitely something to be said for a show that leaves you wanting more. A lot of shows that go on to have cult status had short but brilliant runs (I'm thinking of things like Fawlty Towers).

        Some people never really liked Ashes to Ashes and I can understand why. After watching the original, it is jarring to move forward in time and the changes in the setting and the characters take a good while to get used to. I also felt the writing wasn't quite as sharp and the chemistry between Glennister and simm was definitely missing. Having said that I really did begin to enjoy the show in it's own right by the end of the season and felt the last couple of eps really were great television that tied everything together beautifully and moved the premise on to new levels.
        JUST ENOUGH KILL

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        • #5
          So keeping the show on for two years to tell the story was really from an artist's perspective? In the United States it seems TV here is all about how long the show can last, not necessarily how the story can be told. When I saw the LoM was only on for two years, I thought it meant it had low ratings and it wasn't good. It must be a culture thing, eh? Do you think TV shows are more appreciated in Britian as far how the story is expressed? Or what?
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Obsessed View Post
            When I saw the LoM was only on for two years, I thought it meant it had low ratings and it wasn't good. It must be a culture thing, eh? Do you think TV shows are more appreciated in Britian as far how the story is expressed? Or what?
            That's a tricky question really, because the things that affect the run of a show over here are numerous.

            For example, the original Dr Who ran from the 60's til the 90's, was killed off and then ressurrected in 2004, the reason that went on for so long is because

            a. it was a ratings winner
            b. the lead and recurring stars could be changed anytime if they wanted to move on
            c. it is a show that can have many stories, told in many ways and there is no finite ending.
            d. it is merchandisable
            e. the vision can be passed on to many, many writers

            If you compare that to say BtVS then it fits into a., d., and e. but the main problem with the length of it's run is that it's stars came to the end of their 7 year contract and they wanted to move onto new projects. As I understand it, actors in the UK are only contracted for each season. Maybe if the show is very long-running (soaps for example) the actors maybe be tied to a number of years in their contract, but generally the actor's contract is more bound to the channel than the show, so David Tennant could leave Dr Who but still work for the BBC in a new project that they would look for with him in mind.

            Sometimes, a show is taken on that the writer has expressed a desire to keep short - whether it be for his own creative freedom (i.e. he's free to move onto new stories) or so that the story is kept tight (i.e. Life on Mars), that would also affect the length of the run.

            I think the culture of here is more that bigger is not always better. Just because something has run for years doesn't always mean it was always good. A comedy show called Only Fools and Horses was entirely brilliant for most of it's 15 or so years, but when the original writers ran out of ideas and the original actors had grown bored of their characters it faltered - even though it was always going to be a ratings winner, because the show was taken into the British conscious as part of our heritage.

            In general our shows are much smaller - the season length for instance, and are not designed to go on for years - the ones that do are rare. Cop shows seem to have a longer life - The Sweeney, The Proffessionals, Cracker, Prime Suspect (there's many more very bad ones) all had more than two seasons, whereas our very bad comedy shows seem to go on and on and on interminably!!!

            Another factor is that the BBC is a government run channel, paid for by our TV licence rather than advertising (it has no adverts whatsoever). Advertising revenue doesn't play a part in BBC shows and so a show that has garnered low ratings but has more story to tell may be given another season to gather more fans. (Torchwood is a perfect example, the first season was bad and didn't get many fans, but it has had a second season and possibly a third)

            US show-life seem to be ruled by ratings and advertising revenue more than anything else, and are designed at the outset to be run over several years. We just don't do that over here...
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Obsessed View Post
              So keeping the show on for two years to tell the story was really from an artist's perspective? In the United States it seems TV here is all about how long the show can last, not necessarily how the story can be told. When I saw the LoM was only on for two years, I thought it meant it had low ratings and it wasn't good. It must be a culture thing, eh? Do you think TV shows are more appreciated in Britian as far how the story is expressed? Or what?
              It's really rare for series to last longer than Life On Mars. You get the soaps and then the longer serial dramas, like Silent Witness, Prime Suspect etc but most drama is written for 6 or 8 eps.

              I do think that they could have sustained LOM for longer, I think another season of Sam having accepted his choice to return to the 70s would have worked.
              What are you gonna do? Make me some more eggs?

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              • #8
                They cut LoM short because the actor...I can't remember his name, did not want to do another series. Possibly because of other working commitments to Doctor Who.

                And to answer your David Bowie obsession question...well...David Bowie just rocks I don't actually know the answer, I'm just assuming the creator was a huge David Bowie Fan

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