Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life on Mars

I am one of those weird Americans, part alien most likely, who doesn't actively watch network television. I do have a TV, sitting there as a tool for watching DVDs we rent or buy. But I am completely appalled by the greedy, double-dipping concept that we pay for television and also get bombarded by commercials. Essentially, we pay to be bombarded by advertisement!

But sometimes, nevertheless, I do watch TV on my computer. It's a sketchy proposition on my little DSL connection, and it doesn't always work, but the commercials are only 30 seconds long. Look, I have an afghan to crochet! And the only way to get that done is to sit quietly and be entertained by something that doesn't involve my hands, or even my eyes too much. So no blogging and no reading.

This was a long preface to tell you about a TV series I discovered last night, one that got me through several rows of my afghan. Life on Mars is about a New York City cop who gets in a terrible car accident and wakes up in the same city in 1973. There are hints he's in a coma and dreaming everything, and hints that divine intervention got him there, hints that he has a mission to fulfill. It's reminiscent of Quantum Leap or the Pretender, a light comedy/drama about a decent guy who just wants to get back home.

Lots of big names, Harvey Keitel, Gretchen Mol and Lisa Bonet, but Jason O'Mara who plays the main character Sam Tyler is new to me.
Ahem, need I say more?

Was life really so sexist and racist back then? Basically, civil rights in general were clearly still in formation in 1973.
I never really understood the concept of burning a bra... a girdle perhaps

The show does some very interesting transpositions of 1973 and 2008 politics, showing that some things have not changed much. Example, politicians earnestly discussing America's dependence on foreign oil.

I watched several episodes last night (another benefit of watching TV online: time is your servant, not the other way around).
Cool pic from

This show is worth watching for the music alone -- which totally makes up for the shaggy hair and wide lapels. I was 10 in 1973, but this music is thrilling me. Great example: T-rex's "Bang a Gong (Get it On)," Credence, Three Dog Night, Velvet Underground and lo-o-o-o-ots of David Bowie (including the title song).

Far out!

Update: Special feature on the Life on Mars website: 1973 Radio.


steviewren said...

Far out? Did that phrase emerge from your 10 year old self or in homage to the show? hehe Seriously, I've never watched it, but the premise is interesting.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“Was life really so sexist and racist back then? Basically, civil rights in general are clearly still in formation in 1973.”

That must be a rhetorical question. Yes it really was. That and everybody smoked cigarettes. But, it was the early stages of the end of discrimination. The civil rights marches of the sixties were the beginning of the end of racism and sexism. Dr. Martin Luther King was a very wise man. He openly asked for discrimination to end. It was always my great fear that he would end up getting his people killed, and to set civil rights back into the dark ages, but it didn’t happen that way. Odds were great that marches would end in mass death. Why it didn’t happen, I will never know. Maybe people recognized the inherent need to step into the modern age.

Discrimination will always exist to a certain extent. In a lot of cases white people are not treated fairly by the other races. But, we have reached an age where a black person can become President of the United States.

Sexism is almost gone, but Vive la difference.

Kristen said...

Hey There Indie (I was wondering what happened to your blogging and writing :) -

TV on the internet: Amazing, but I wouldn't dare attempt it on our slow satellite connection :) . I remember in college, that my roommate watched sooooooooooooooo many Taiwanese soap operas on my laptop that I practically learned a new "romance language" in a month! **heehee** Anyway, happy watching and happy knitting :)

(I know that this is a shoddy "comment," but I am in another withdrawal from an anti-depressant and its got my brain feeling shot). I'm here, though, and thinking happily with you ... and that is what matters :)

Okay, enough out of me!

Love to You,

Indie said...

Steviewren, no I don't think Far Out has come up on Life on Mars yet, although the cop in question does have a cute hippie chick friend who in his building. She might say that!

When looking for illustrations for the post, I discovered it's a remake of a BBC series, with only a few changes. The years for example, 1972 and 2007. So from that I deduce that 1973 is less important to the developing plot than "35 years earlier." We shall see.

Like all awesome series, I fear for its life. FOX would cancel it the moment it seemed intelligent (life Firefly, for example). But it's ABC's and they might keep it around.

Indie said...

Ernie, as usual, you are the man with the time perspective.

I was in west Texas in 1973, so I wasn't sure if the sexism and racism I recall so vividly were southern characteristics or signs of the times.

Thank God things have changed and may they continue to improve!

This show seems like a good reminder that the things we take for granted didn't come easy and we have to work hard and be vigilant to see they don't slip back.

Indie said...

Kristen, good luck with what you're dealing with there. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Pay for DVR. Then you can speed through the commercials. And life is worth living again. No kidding.

Indie said...

Anonymous 2:44 I forgot to mention I'm poor. I'm always just trying to make sure there's heat and water and all that.

But when I graduate, well, that's a different story. DVR, world travel, positive bank balances, the sky's the limit.

Anonymous said...

Well hi K!
You know I love SciFi, and that actor photo really says it all ;-) *yummy*, so I'll be looking forward to one fine day seeing this show on German tv *sigh* Which is probably taking at least one more year :( Hey, you don't accidentally happen to be able to record 'The Bold & The Beautiful' for me? They don't give Europeans access to watch it online, go figure that (copyrights)! And they quit airing it here, so you guys are 4 months ahead now :( *cry* ;-) Just a thought. Later, R.

Indie said...

R, no TV here sorry. Can you watch it online? The CBS website says there are full episodes of "The Bold the the Beautiful" at this address: Does that access from Germany? Likewise if you want to check out Life on Mars, go to Also, it's apparently a remake of a BBC series of the same name, which might be just as good or maybe even better. Can you get BBC episodes online?

Anonymous said...

No K., they let you access the website, but not the episodes! I will try to check out 'Life on Mars' via the BBC website, maybe that works... R.

Indie said...

R, I'll bet the BBC version is just as good. But sadly, Colm Meaney will be your Sam Tyler. He's a good actor and everything, but there will be a little something missing from the experience of watching him...