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DVD Shopping Bag: Life on Mars the Complete Series

The Next Firefly

By Robert T. Trate     October 06, 2009
Source: Mania.com

Jason O'Mara, Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol in Life on Mars
© ABC Studios

To begin, I wanted to apologize to all you Maniacs on behalf of Warner Brothers who were supposed to send me a copy of Trick 'r Treat on Blu-ray for review. I wanted nothing more than to bring you the pros and cons of this long awaited horror movie. I honestly believed this movie is cursed because not only did it take a long time to come to theaters, in limited engagements, but now it seems as if the Blu-ray and DVD might be delayed as well. 

As you can see from the title and header image that this week the DVD Shopping Bag will focus on the short lived ABC series called Life on Mars. When the show originally premiered I set up my DVR to record it. How could I not? After all, a modern day cop transported back into 1973 with no reason as to why was an incredibly intoxicating premise. My DVR failed to record the first episode. I thought that I would catch it re-runs when the first season was over. As many of you already know that never happened. I knew the show was really in trouble in February of this year when, at the New York Comic Con, reps for the show were grabbing journalists out of a LOST interview to sit and talk with the show’s star Jason O'Mara. The circle is now complete. As of last week ABC released the complete series on DVD.
As I mentioned before New York City Detective, Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara), is transported back in time to New York City 1973. This Detective Sam Tyler works in the same precinct as in the present day but the 1973 cops think he is a transfer from upstate. In the very first episode there is, of course, a case he is working on which parallels a case in 1973. The connections are brilliant and everything works out for Sam. At the end of the episode Sam doesn’t do a Quantum Leap and is forced to think that maybe there is another reason why he is in 1973. That mystery is what makes the show incredibly fascinating. Sam is forced to live a life where the rules are very different than what he is used to. Sure things like emails, iPods and cell phones aren’t available but forensic reports, finger printing and DNA samples are now either in their infancy or science fiction. The rules of being a police officer are extremely lax as he quickly learns from his new Lieutenant Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel). Sam also learns from Police Woman, “No Nuts”, Annie Norris (Gretchen Mol) that women in his field not treated equally. All this leaves Sam feeling as if he has woken up on another planet as he searches for a way home.
Outside of the mystery as to how and why Sam was transported back into 1973 the show is an incredible window into the social norms of the time. The sixties were over, disco was about to hit and racial tensions were higher than ever. Sam quickly learns that it is harder to blend in than just wearing a leather jacket and butterfly collars. What really makes Sam’s life hard is when he learns that his own family lives within his precinct. Sam has some daddy issues and struggles with whether or not to get involved hoping this might set things right in the future. Much like another time traveling Sam, Detective Tyler wrestles with this as he cannot help but get involved with his nightclub dancing mother, Jennifer Ferrin, and his low level thug father, Dean Winters. These problems are tough enough but as clues and flashes of the future happen all around him Sam is always contemplating his sanity.
Where did this show go wrong? For this genre fan the opening monologue lacked real pizzazz. Science Fiction shows with an opening monologue can either make or break a series. Star Trek, Quantum Leap and Farscape have three of the all time best monologues which hook you in. At first this show seemed to struggle with its identity as well. Is it Law and Order circa 1973 or is it Time Tunnel stuck in the same episode? Jason O'Mara was the problem I faced initially. I found him to be easily replaceable. For the first handful of episodes I thought of him as a poor man’s version of Mel Gibson. Whereas every other major player in the series was delivering phenomenal performances, O’Mara seemed to go through the motions. I tell you all right now hang in there till the fifth episode. ”Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead” is the episode which brings it all home and really establishes O’Mara and in essence the series. From here on the following twelve episodes make you wish there were fifty more.
I learned that Life on Mars is an American interpretation of a British series with the same name. I don’t know if both series end the same way. If you do know what the ending is for either series please don’t ruin it for your fellow Maniacs. This could be why the series, here, bombed. The ending could have been something that crossed the pond and turned people off to the show. If you haven’t seen or heard of either series catch ABC’s Life on Mars. Think of it as a seventeen hour movie that does have a beginning, middle and end. There isn’t a cliff hanger leaving you to wonder as to how and why Sam arrived in 1973. The ending is great and leaves you with the same question you had when you first discovered Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Why didn’t I watch this when it was on?
HORROR (in October, Horror Films Come First)
A Deadly Little Christmas
Audition: Collector's Edition [Blu-ray] ~ Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, and Tetsu Sawaki
Audition: Collector's Edition
Blade 1, 2 & Trinity [Blu-ray] ~ Wesley Snipes
Bleed With Me (Unrated Directors Cut) ~ Camilla Metelmann, Kim Sønderholm, Maja Muhlack, and Mads Koudal
Children ~ Rachel Shelley, Eva Birthistle, Jeremy Sheffield, and Stephen Campbell Moore
Children of the Corn ~ Daniel Newman, David Anders, Kandyse McClure, and Preston Bailey
Crazy as Hell ~ Eriq La Salle, Michael Beach, Ronny Cox, and Jane Carr
Cursed [Blu-ray] ~ Scott Baio, Joshua Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Portia de Rossi
Dead by Dawn/Dead by Dawn 2: The Return
Evil Alien Conquerors/Earthstorm ~ Stephen Baldwin, Chris Parnell, and Diedrich Bader
Feeding Grounds ~ Jamie Gannon
The Gate ~ Christa Denton, Stephen Dorff, Deborah Grover, and Carl Kraines
Godkiller: Walk Among Us [episode 1] ~ Lance Henriksen, Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, and Tiffany Shepis
Goreality ~ Taylor Hayden, Jael Strauss, and Isabelle Dobroski
Halloween- Unrated Director's Cut ~ Adrienne Barbeau, Micky Dolenz, Brad Dourif, and Ken Foree
Hide And Creep ~ Chuck Hartsell, Melissa Bush, Barry Austin, and Chris Garrison
The Hiding ~ Chad Mathews, Cassidy Brown, Ramon Hamilton, and Jourdan Van Eman
I Spit Chew on Your Grave! ~ Josh Suire
It's Alive ~ Bijou Phillips, James Murray, Raphaël Coleman, and Owen Teale
It's My Party and I'll Die if I Want To! ~ Adrienne Fischer, Darcy Wood, and Danielle Nortum
Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics (The Walking Dead / Frankenstein 1970 / You'll Find Out / Zombies on Broadway) ~ Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Edmund Gwenn, and Don 'Red' Barry
King of the Ants ~ Chris McKenna, Kari Wuhrer, George Wendt, and Vernon Wells
Offspring ~ Stephen Grey, Art Hindle, Pollyana McIntosh, and Tommy Nelson
Rogue [Blu-ray] ~ John Jarratt, Heather Mitchell, Barry Otto, and Michael Vartan
Seventh Moon ~ Dennis Chan, Amy Smart, and Tim Chiou
Shopping for Fangs ~ John Cho
Skull Heads
Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut ~ Amy Lynn Best
Staunton Hill ~ Cooper Huckabee, Cristen Coppen, Kathy Lamkin, and Kiko Ellsworth
The Thaw ~ Val Kilmer, Aaron Ashmore, Martha MacIsaac, and Anne Marie De Luise
Trick 'r Treat ~ Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, and Quinn Lord
Trick 'r Treat [Blu-ray]
Wicked Lake w/ Soundtrack ~ Carlee Baker, Michael Esparza, Eryn Joslyn, and Eve Mauro
Wolf [Blu-ray] ~ Eileen Atkins, Christopher Birt, Lia Chang, and Starletta DuPois
Assassination of a High School President ~ Kathryn Morris, Josh Pais, Michael Rapaport, and Bruce Willis
Chinatown ~ Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, and Fritzi Burr
The Clean and Narrow ~ William Katt, Jack Noseworthy, Wings Hauser, and Sondra Locke
Dark Country ~ Thomas Jane
Descendant ~ Katherine Heigl
Fast Track No Limits ~ Erin Cahill, Andrew Walker, Alexia Barlier, and Joseph Beattie
The Hiding ~ Chad Mathews, Cassidy Brown, Ramon Hamilton, and Jourdan Van Eman
High Noon ~ Ty Olsson
The Hitcher [Blu-ray] ~ Sean Bean, Mike Fisher, Jeff Hutchinson, and Neal McDonough
The Hot Karl
Mirageman ~ Marko Zaror
Not Forgotten [Blu-ray] ~ Simon Baker, Paz Vega, Chloe Moretz, and Claire Forlani
The Number 23 [Blu-ray] ~ Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, and Danny Huston
The Reflecting Pool ~ Jason Culp, Joseph Culp, Mark Daneri, and Phillippe Denham
The Return [Blu-ray] ~ Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brad Leland, J.C. MacKenzie, and Peter O'Brien
Senseless ~ Jason Behr
Sympathy For Lady Vengeance [Blu-ray] ~ Lee Yeung Ai
D. Gray-Man: Season Two, Part One
Mushi-Shi: The Complete Box Set (Viridian Collection)
Naruto Uncut Box Set: Season One, Vol. 1
RahXephon: Complete Collection
The Story of Saiunkoku: The Complete Season One
Toward the Terra: Complete Collection
6teen: Dude of the Living Dead
A Charlie Brown Christmas [Blu-ray] ~ Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, and Mimi Gibson
A Miser Brothers' Christmas (Deluxe Edition) ~ Juan Chioran, George S. Irving, Mickey Rooney, and Catherine Disher
Astro Boy Vol. 1 ~ Astro Boy
Astro Boy: The Beginning
Astro Boy DVD Mini Set 2
Chop Socky Chooks, Vol. 1
Class of the Titans: Season 1, Vol. 1
Delta State: The Complete First Season
Horton Hears a Who! [Blu-ray]
How the Grinch Stole Christmas [Blu-ray] ~ Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, and June Foray
My Pet Monster: The Complete Series
Peanuts: I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown ~ Chad Allen, Kristie Baker, Melissa Guzzi, and Aron Mandelbaum
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live w/ Blu-ray packaging) [Blu-ray] ~ Adriana Caselotti, Roy Atwell, and Lucille LaVerne
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Limited Edition Collector's Set) [Blu-ray]
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Collector's Book Set) [Blu-ray]
Zorro: Generation Z, Vol. 4
Miracle on 34th Street (1994) [Blu-ray] ~ Joss Ackland, Mike Bacarella, Bill Buell, and Alvin Greenman
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) [Blu-ray] ~ Jack Albertson, Harry Antrim, Lela Bliss, and Jeff Corey
My Fair Lady ~ Audrey Hepburn
Ghostbusters 1 and 2 Box Set with Stay Puft Action Figure ~ Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray
Year One (Unrated) [Blu-ray] ~ Jack Black, Oliver Platt, Jack Black, and Michael Cera
Year One (Rated)
Year One (Unrated)
Year One (Rated) [UMD for PSP]
Not Quite Hollywood ~ Jamie Lee Curtis, Cassandra Delaney, Rebecca Gilling, and Gregory Harrison
Contact [Blu-ray] ~ Jodie Foster
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth ~ Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, and Robert Llewellyn
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth [Blu-ray]
Ally McBeal: The Complete Series ~ Calista Flockhart
Blood Ties: Season Two ~ Kyle Schmid, Dylan Neal, Christina Cox, and Gina Holden
Bones: The Complete Fourth Season ~ David Boreanaz, T.J. Thyne, and Eric Millegan
Bones: Season 4 [Blu-ray]
Get Smart: Season 4 ~ Don Adams, Edward Platt, and Robert Karvelas
The Hills: Season Five, Part One ~ Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port, Brody Jenner, and Lauren Conrad
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - The Complete Fifth Season ~ Mary Tyler Moore
Medium: The Complete Fifth Season ~ Patricia Arquette, Jake Weber, David Cubitt, and Miguel Sandoval
Mister Ed: The Complete First Season ~ Alan Young
Murphy's Law: Series One ~ James Nesbitt
My Life in Ruins ~ Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, and Alistair McGowan
Nip/Tuck - Season 5, Part 2 ~ Dylan Walsh
Paranormal State: The Complete Season Three ~ Ryan Buell
Scare Tactics: Season 3, Part 1 (Uncensored: Too Hot for TV) ~ Tracy Morgan
Six Feet Under: The Complete Series ~ Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Michael St. Patrick, and Freddy Rodriguez
Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series Collection
Tales from the Cryptkeeper: The Complete Second Season - All the Gory Details
Van der Valk Mysteries, Set 1 ~ Barry Foster
Comedy 3-Pack [Blu-ray] ~ Office Space, My Cousin Vinny, Super Troopers
Extreme Action 3-Pack [Blu-ray] ~ Live Free or Die Hard, Ronin, The Siege
Fantasy 3-Pack [Blu-ray] ~ Princess Bride, Nims Island, Big
Full Moon Archive Box Set - 18 DVDs
Holiday Family Collection: The Polar Express/Happy Feet/A Christmas Story
Holiday Comedy Collection: Elf/National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation/Fred Claus
Horror 101 (4 DVD SE Set) ~ Mike Marsh
Romantic Comedy 3-Pack [Blu-ray] – There’s Something About Mary, The Girl Next Door, What Happens in Vegas
Sci-Fi 3-Pack [Blu-ray] ~ Independence Day, Jumper, I, Robot
TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams, Vol. 2 (Thrill of a Romance / Fiesta / This Time for Keeps / Pagan Love Song / Million Dollar Mermaid / Easy to Love) ~ Esther Williams, Van Johnson, Tommy Dorsey, and Xavier Cugat
The Ultimate Matrix Collection ~ Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, and Keanu Reeves
Wolf / Dracula / Frankenstein Trilogy [Blu-ray] ~ Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and Robert De Niro
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.


Showing items 1 - 2 of 2
StarlightGuard 10/6/2009 4:33:26 AM

My Fair Lady! whooo!

did I mention I was once hand picked to play Professor Henry Higgins way back in high school? I hammed it up as much as I could

tacid 10/6/2009 6:08:20 AM

Life on Mars US was ok. But Life on Mars UK was 100 times better. They do not end the same way.












US Version Sam is an Astronaut dreaming insuspended animation.

UK version. When Sam is hit by the car he ends up in a coma. 1973 is nothing more then his dream during the coma. After trying to desperatly to return to his future he finaly does so in the last episode by waking up from his coma. He realized that he loved Annie and ends up throwing himself down a building wich allows him to return to 1973, the end

UK now has a LOM spinoff Called Ashes to Ashes. It's about a female police Psychologist in modern time who is reading Sam's file trying to understand why he comited suicide. Sam had talked about his experiance in details to the doctors before jumping down that building. So the name of the suporting casts are there etc. At one point she gets shot and she is in her turn sent back in time during her coma. But this time she meets Gene and the gang in 1980



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