[Season 1 !Season 2 ]
[ !Season 1 !Season 2 !Season 3 ]
Life on Mars [Season 1, Episode 1]
Shown 9th January 2006 [Monday]
DCI Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) is a Detective Chief Inspector from an English police service in 2005 is in a serious accident. He wakes up in the year 1973!
Luckily he arranges to be transferred into the 1973 Police Service. The unit he ends up in is a cliched remake of The Sweeney. Partnered with a neanderthal named Gene Hunt, he must solve a series of murders.
This is part cop show, part fish-out-of-water comedy. Disappointing, perhaps. But no worse as a cop/time travel show than Crime Traveller .
The detectives arrest a suspect in a series of ARVs. They have nothing on him, so the 70s cop Gene Hunt beats him up and plants evidence on him. However, Y2K cop Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) decides to let the suspect go.
In the next ARV a supporting character is coincidentally hospitalised.
The girl from the BBC test-card appears to him in a nightmare. And at the end, we get a hint about how the time travel took place.
The music used is Live and Let Die , which as well as being a great tune was also released in 1973.
A man is found hacked to death in a spinning-mill. DCI Gene Hunt's main suspect is the local Union rep.
Meanwhile, it turns out that the Regional Crime Squad, the most senior detective unit in the local Police force, are even more crooked than the local CID.
The CID are in cahoots with the local gangster. He is an old-fashioned 1960s gangster, the kind that we only see in cliched detective stories.
The hero Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) goes all honest cop, refusing to accept gratuities. Then he meets a damsel in distress. Things follow very predictably from there, I'm afraid.
The hero is so modern that he cooks exotic Mexican meals (where he gets jalopenos from is anyone's guess) rather than open a can of baked beans. Real cops in 2005 would get their Mexican food in a microwaveable packet! However, he is more than willing to compromise his ethics when he feels like it. Torturing suspects (for inadmissable statements!) is only part of it. He even gets everyone to bet on a horse he knows will win the race.
He hears his mother's voice talking to him via a sock-puppet on TV. Naturally he tracks down his family in 1973, and pays them a visit. Creepy bastard!
A car chase on a football pitch is followed by a murder case. The victim is suspected of being murdered by supporters of a rival team.
The protagonist Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) )'s memories of going to the game with his dad are mirrored by his encounters with the victim's son.
The police work, including undercover work as pub staff and a riot-squad punch-up, is all perfectly cliched and predictable. However, this is really a drama. The core is the protagonist's life.
The hero's mum phones him to say that he is being taken off life-support at 2pm. Just then, he is told that a local newspaper office is scene to an armed siege. The hostage-taker intends to kill someone ... at 2pm!
DCI Gene Hunt and his friends act like gun-toting thugs. But when it comes down to it, they're extremely reluctant to shoot. Convenient for the plot. But then, since it is all a halucination in the mind of a coma patient, who cares?
In the penultimate ep, the protagonist Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) realises the doctors are testing him for response to stimuli. Unfortunately he is unable to respond.
A drug dealer is left in the custody of Ray the thug cop while the protagonist and his boss Gene Hunt pop out for a curry. When they come back, he is dead.
The protagonist goes on a witch-hunt to find out what happened. Fact is, the entire department are thugs. It is pointless pinning all the blame on one scapegoat.
The CID investigate a new bunch of gangsters who are trying to take over the Manchester underworld. Unfortunately, the trail leads to the protagonist's dad!
The protagonist Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) relives events from his childhood, in scenes reminiscent of 12 Monkeys . Shockingly, he ignores all the evidence, both physical and remembered. Yes, he makes the psychotic DCI Gene Hunt look like a smart, well-adjusted person in contrast!
The ep starts with a flash from Sam's past - Marc Warren ( Dracula, Hogfather ), his gangster nemesis.
The ep starts with a flash from Sam's past - his future mentor from Hyde arrives as a young rookie. Naturally, racism is part of the problem he faces.
The cops are after a gang of armed robbers.
The racism prevalent in the 1970s police and society is explored. Specifically, against recent immigrants from Ireland - someone is setting bombs, and the cops treat everyone like potential IRA terrorists.
Ray the creepy mustachio'd one gets shell-shock, but they give him a gun anyway!
The ep starts with a flash from Sam's past - his favourite aunt, who worked for a perfume company.
A young woman has been murdered, giving the cops the chance to arrive in a single, masterful helicopter shot. Unfortunately, the case resembles the work of a serial killer called Manc the Knife
The cops go undercover at a wife-swopping party. Posing as Tony and Cherie Blair!
The ep starts with a flash from Sam's past - he becomes a character in Camberwick Green, a 1970s childrens TV show made with stop-motion animation. The voices in his head say that someone has made a mistake with his coma medication.
A man's wife and daughter are kidnapped.
The ep starts with a flash from Sam's past - his ex, Maya, a half-Asian girl from 2006.
The investigation is into the shooting of a Ugandan Asian immigrant. It seems that there is a drug-smuggling angle, although Sam insists this is impossible.
DCI Gene Hunt is wanted for murder. A new DCI is brought in, someone with a much more Hyde-style way of doing things. Someone who may have a secret agenda of his own.
Can Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ) solve the murder?
Gene and the team prepare to ambush some armed robbers. However, the DCI from last ep has a different plan for Sam Tyler (John Simm - Dr Who (2005+) ).
Sam must choose between life with the team, and his old life in Hyde. But his choice is not as easy as he thought it would be.
This is the final ep of the series. The makers intended to go out on a high note, and they certainly achieve that. Unlike so many successful US TV shows, which drag on for many years after the show has passed its best.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) is a female police officer, a trained hostage negotiator studying Sam Tyler's case. She gets involved in a hostage situation, and ends up getting shot ...
She wakes up in 1981, and ends up helping the cops with their enquiries. The Detectives are the same team - Gene Hunt, Ray and nervous guy Chris, all transferred from Manchester to London. The cases are ones that affected Alex in the (relatively) modern day. She knows what Sam Tyler went through, so she assumes that everything is a product of her subconscious - but she plays along anyway!
Things aren't exactly the same. Nervous Guy Chris now has a girlfriend named Shaz, the female WPC ( Monserrat Lombard ).
It is the Royal Wedding, but not everyone is celebrating. The Isle of Dogs, an area of central London, is being redeveloped. The 21st Century version is seen in 28 Weeks Later , and now Thatcher's legacy is taken for granted. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) has to witness the resistance to Thatcher's policies, although her University education and personal experience all tell her that it is for the best.
Someone is trying to assassinate the Yuppie property developer responsible for the redevelopment. The suspect's lawyer is Alex's mother - a bit of a bitch, really.
A sex pervert is attacking women. A choir-girl was murdered, while a prostitute is raped and left for dead. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) must use her psychoanalytical skills, and overcome the preconceptions of her co-workers. Unfortunately, she also makes assumptions herself.
Alex's own childhood intersects with this ep. Her mother is making anti-Police Brutality statements on the BBC News, while her friend is defending the Rape suspect. Alex has to decide between Law and Justice.
A man is murdered, and it turns out he was linked to some Peace Protestor women. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) suspects that the eeevil MI5 Security Service might be involved. Alex's mother, the crusading lawyer who wants to bring down the Government, gets involved.
Alex and Gene break into a secret Government base, protected by soldiers in Second World War uniforms. They get trapped in the vault, and as it heats up they strip off ... and Alex has a strange flashback to her childhood, just like Sam Tyler did in Season One. Wow, this is such a carbon-copy of the original show ...
Admittedly, Alex looks a lot better in the red lingerie than Sam Tyler ever would!
The team investigate a gangster. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) wants him because he is importing illegal guns - how very Modern of her. Gene and the lads don't like the thug either - like a villain in Season One of Life on Mars, he is a homosexual!
This ep shows Ray go undercover in a gay bar!
Drake's anti-gun agenda is so vicious that she will hypocritically ignore her own 21st-century morality. She tries to blackmail the gangster's boyfriend (Russell Tovey - Being Human ) into being a supergrass.
The team investigate an old-fashioned ARV. A couple of thugs with shotguns raided a Post Office. Gene thinks it is an old enemy of his, a big-time bank robber who is now retired.
In the previous ep, Alex was trapped in a hot room. This time she gets stuck in a freezing one!
A fellow with OCD raises twenty thousand pounds for charity - the starving kids in Africa, a very Eighties topic. He is an almost unrecognisable, mullet-wearing Matthew McFadyen (Keeley's RL husband). Unfortunately he gets mugged, and the lads get called in to solve the crime.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) is told by the Clown of Death that someone will die. She tries to divert Hunt's efforts into modern policing (like a TV appeal for witnesses) but he prefers old-fashioned brute force.
Lord Scarman arrives to do an inspection of the Police Station. He has heard about the anti-gay and colour-conscious attitude of certain cops, and he has come to get rid of it.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) plans to prevent her parents from being killed. Unfortunately she is still a bit hazy on the details, so it is not an easy job. The best way to save them is to arrest them - but she just sets up a lot of trouble with Scarman and his friends!
The opening narration is accompanied by a sequence of clips illustrating the difference between the decades. 21st Century Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) has a ponytail and a pant-suit, making her androgynous in a gender-free workplace. 1980s Alex has all the clichťs - a massive perm and some skimpy clothes ill-suited to an actual office (or anywhere except a nightclub).
It is summer of 1982, and the Task Force sets sail to liberate the Falkland Islands. A man is found dead in a Soho strip-joint. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) and her team investigate.
Alex sees her daughter on TV, edited into an episode of Grange Hill. Her visions of Real Life indicate that her body has been discovered, and she will make it to hospital in more or less one piece.
The victim turns out to be a police officer. There is an undercurrent of police corruption ... starting with Superintendant MacIntosh (AKA Super-Mac).
To prove that he is not sexist, the annoying younger copper does a Full Monty strip for his girlfriend, Shaz.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) and Gene Hunt are in hot pursuit of a stolen car. It crashes, and the car thief is killed. He is a Gypsy, and his community are not pleased. A doctor is also hanging around the Gypsy camp, acting very suspicious.
A gypsy fortune-teller examines Gene Hunt's hand and tells him that a tiler will play an important part in his future. He assumes she means Sam Tyler, so he joins Super-Mac's Masonic Lodge. Strangely, the upper-middle-class Masons seem willing to accept thuggish working-class cops.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) and Gene Hunt visit the corrupt cop from Ashes to Ashes [Season 2, Episode 1] Found in Soho. He is in prison, but protective custody has been inadequate. Apparently he killed himself, and Super-Mac wants Hunt to modify his report to say the dead man was suicidal.
The prison access for filming does not go to waste. Alex and Hunt interrogate a convicted Animal Rights extremist. He is David Bradley, familiar from creepy old man roles like Walder Frey in Game of Thrones . He is also on hunger strike, slowly starving himself to death. As he flatlines in the hospital infirmary, Alex is reminded of her own medical status. Even Morph from the Tony Hart show fails to defibrillate her successfully. Even more mysteriously, this kids show is shown late at night.
The title of the episode is a reference to the 1986 Beastie Boys song Fight for your right to Party!. It is also a reference to the trendy left-wing protest causes of the Thatcher era. This stands out among the other terrorism-related storylines. Bobby Sands gets a mention, because of the Hunger Strike, and Huntís brand of interrogation is a reminder of the Birmingham Six IRA episode of Life on Mars . But the Animal Rights protestors are treated as violent psychos in this episode, while the ANC (a KGB-backed communist conspiracy) are given favourable treatment in a later episode. How would it look if the gay rights movement were portrayed as violent terrorists?
A Glaswegian journalist comes to town looking for Gene Huntís help. Firstly, she is investigating the disappearance of missing teenagers. Well, just the girls - boys never rate a mention thanks to Missing White Woman syndrome. Secondly, she says she is tracking down the father of her unborn sprog - Gene Hunt himself!
Gene cannot remember getting the woman pregnant, but Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) does not accuse the journalist of booze-raping an unconscious man. Later, Alex is happy to stay silent when a male suspect is victimised by violence, both threatened (by Huntís mob) and actual (by the journalist). Either she is so inured to Huntís ways that she no longer cares, or she actually believes that the ends justify the means. The thuggish men are behaving in such a manner in order to protect women, which Alex would probably condemn as Benevolent Sexism.
The journalist woman gets on well with the lads, and everyone except Alex (the other career woman) likes her. Later, Alex takes the opportunity to ask the journalist about Sam Tyler. But nobody knows what happened to him ...
The villains are accused of the 21st Century crime of exploiting wimmin. Thoroughly Modern Millie-tant and the Ladette Journalist help the cops arrest a photographer who helps young women get a career as a Page Three model. This is a reference to famous models like Samantha Fox and Linda Lusardi, who won fame and fortune by posing topless but whose under-18 photos are nowadays technically classed as kiddie porn. But then, as seen in her treatment of the journalist we cannot expect Alex Drake to support the rights and choices of other career-women.
The trail leads back to a millionaire who is suspected of acting as a matchmaker, introducing gold-diggers to rich lonely old men. The suspect is a friend of Superintendant Mackintosh AKA Super-Mac, the villain of this Season Arc.
The cops get a call-out to the Drakesí house - Alexís in-laws have been burgled. It was not Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) who did it, and it slipped her mind altogether that the crime had happened. However, she spends most of her time harassing her ex-husband-to-be (even though he is only 14 years old). No wonder he left her, if she is such an acerbic shrew. Apparently he was the model house-husband, giving up his job so she could be the sole bread-winner while he wrote a novel. This should be the model relationship for the Twenty-First Century: the woman has more education, qualifications and earning power, so the man should quit his boring day-job and concentrate on his art, music, sport, whatever.
The police have a couple of leads in the burglary case. The robber wore a politician face-mask: not a dead president, like in Point Break, but Iron Maggie herself! The other clue is fingerprints, from a well-known crook who died two years previously!
The tabloids have had a field-day with the news of Super-Macís corruption. Chris seems to be under particular stress, although since Alex talked him into quitting smoking it is probably nicotine withdrawl.
Alex is confronted by a mysterious man who calls himself Martin Summer (Aidan Dunbar- ). He knows about where she came from - he seems to be a time-traveller like her, but he may be a corrupt cop. This is the new story-arc to replace Gene's Super-Mac one.
The cops discover a body in a canal. They locate the widow, but she is in denial Ė insisting her husband is missing, not dead.
The main suspect is the victimís former boss, a Yuppie loan-shark. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) quotes Maggie Thatcherís most famous line, There is no such thing as society, and blames Eighties Excess for people spending and borrowing more than they can afford. How typically hypocritical of a prime beneficiary of the Thatcherite era to criticise the Iron Ladyís achievements.
Alex has other things on her mind. Her 21st-century body is in surgery, getting the bullet removed from her brain.
The team stake out a building site to nab some drug dealers. They also discover a body. The site developer might be involved ...
Gene discovers that there is a rat in his team. Can he discover who is leaking info to the crooks?
Super-Mac may be gone, but the mole in Huntís team is still working for someone. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) thinks that the police corruption might involve the younger version of Martin Summer (Aidan Dunbar- ), a cop who is also from the 21st century. Which one of them is right?
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) has hallucinations tell her that she has survived surgery, but that she has a severe infection. The doctors will pump a strong anti-biotic into her, but she will hallucinate further as a result.
The team investigate a big job that is being planned. All they know is that it will involve guns.
The villainous Martin Summer (Aidan Dunbar- ) leaves an audio-tape for Gene Hunt. It is a private recording Drake made for herself, voicing her doubts about working with Hunt. His response is unusual, to those who have seen the final episode. He calls Drake a traitor, acting as if she personally betrayed him. Then he puts her on suspension, and starts fraternising with a female suspect - who he shares his Gary Cooper obsession with.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) returns to the 1980s, with no apparent ill effects after her shooting incident. Now in her third season, she has been working with Gene Hunt longer than Sam Tyler did. And apparently the Gene Genie is linked to the cause of her long-term 1980s flashback.
Gene is on suspension, thus incurring greater fallout from the incident than the protagonist herself. The team is handed over to Rod, who does a surprisingly good job. Not perfect, of course, because he could hardly remain the same two-dimensional stereotype if he managed to do as good a job as our heroine.
Gene is being investigated by a young, educated middle-class type - far more Alex's kind of person. But naturally, he has a vicious side ... and knows something about why Sam Tyler disappeared.
A teenage schoolgirl is kidnapped and held to ransom. Her father is Simon Merrels ( Dominion: Season 2 ). Since he is best known for playing duplicitous super-villains, are the kidnappers followers of Spartacus after the wealth of Crassus or are they the Tomorrow People (2012) seeking revenge?
A serial killer is bumping off women who register with a Dating Agency. Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) invents Speed Dating in order to identify the suspect from the Agency's client list.
Shaz is suffering more from her breakup with Chris than from almost dying a few years ago. She wants to quit the force. But first, she has to go undercover to catch the killer ...
The cops investigate a series of arson attacks. Their main suspect is a Falklands War veteran, which is ironic because Thatcher is being re-elected and that war has been credited with her success.
Ray can relate to the suspect, because of his father's military past. Finally we get some actual character development for poor old Ray!
Jim Keats starts to work on Hunt's team. He gives Chris extra chores, as a way of winning his trust.
Hunt lets a female suspect escape. It turns out that she is an undercover cop from another station. She has infiltrated a gang run by the Stafford family, who want to monopolise the local heroin trade. But with all the police corruption in this show, what are the chances of at least one double-crossing cop this episode?
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) solves an important mystery. We finally find out who smashed up the Blue Peter garden!
A couple of Gene's rivals from Manchester CID come to town. They are after a Bernard Manning-style comedian.
Ray sees a strange starlit sky in the distance. The only one who can relate to him is Shazz, who first told Bolly she saw the starfield in episode three of this Season.
Gene and Viv, the token black guy, lead the riot squad to end a prison riot. Things go wrong, and the convicts end up with police hostages - and a gun!
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) encounters a con-man who insists he is Sam Tyler.
The team investigate an ANC terrorist gang. Naturally, any accurate observations are denounced as racism.
Jim has Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) close in on Gene. Gene finally gives his version of what happened to Sam Tyler.
Chris has to finally stand up to Gene Hunt. Since Hunt has never concentrated on bullying him until this episode, and Chris has given him good reason due to incompetence, this hardly seems like a big issue.
A couple of gangsters are killed in a gangland feud over some diamonds.
Alex Drake ( Keeley Hawes ) goes OOP NORTH to the farm where the dead cop is buried. She digs up the body, to see if it is Sam Tyler ...
We finally find out who the Gene Genie is - and who his rival is. Will Alex and the rest of the crew stay with Gene, or will they transfer downstairs?
All in all this is a quite unsatisfactory conclusion. For example, it does not explain how Martin Summer (Aidan Dunbar- ) the antagonist from Season 2 was involved. Instead of getting proper closure we get a terrible cliche.