Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time-Travelling Cop Gets the 70s Beat

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time-Travelling Cop Gets the 70s Beat

Article excerpt


Life On Mars 9pm, BBC1

AT last - a breath of fresh air in the new year schedules. In a month dominated by programmes on subjects which have been done a hundred times before - houses, disasters and apes - plus the return of overfamiliar series like ER, 10 Years Younger and Shameless, here is something innovative and fun.

John Simm stars as DCI Sam Tyler, a conscientious and ambitious police officer investigating nasty murders in 2006. But after being hit by a car he wakes up in 1973.

He's still a detective, but that's about the only thing that's the same.

He's dropped a rank and it's a different world. Policemen routinely beat up suspects. (And each other.) They drive around in bronze-coloured Fords. There are no women officers - the females in the force are there to be patronised and leered after.

It's like he's suddenly been dropped into The Sweeney. No wonder Tyler feels out of his depth. Especially when he comes up against his new boss: hard-drinking, chain-smoking, punch-throwing DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister).

Now, this might sound a bit hard to swallow, but Life On Mars manages to make it work, thanks to its humour and an affection for The Sweeney days rather than disdain.

A lot of the comedy comes out of the differences across the decades. The first thing Tyler does in his new world is to wonder what's happened to his "mobile". "Mobile what?" is the response. And just imagine the reaction back in the police's pre computerdays when he wonders why there isn't a PC on his desk.

It is a delicious celebration, as well as parody, of hard-hitting Seventies detective series, with modern ironic humour.

On top of which, the murder investigation spans both time zones - with a nice little revelation at the end.

ER 10pm,

C4 ER.

You must remember it: big series, before all its main characters departed.

It's back, but this is not going to blow anyone out of their seats. It takes up where the last series left off: with Dr Kovac's girlfriend's son missing.

A diabetic, so needs his medication, Kovac and Sam go in search of him. In the ER, others try to teach new interns. …

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