Life on Mars: The Complete Series (2008)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama
Buena Vista || NR - 731 minutes - $39.99 || September 29, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-10-06

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Mathew Graham (US Creator)

Supplemental Material:
  • Select Episode Commentaries
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

ďLife on MarsĒ follows Detective Sam Tyler (Jason Oí Mara) who suffers an accident, and because of the accident, heís somehow thrust back from 2008 into the year 1973. The world has changed much since heís gone back in time thirty plus years, obviously, and he has trouble adapting. Other than the obvious fact that heís so technologically inclined, he suffers majorly from living in this old year. Heís also subjected to several of the stereotypical people that were in the 70ís, or at least thatís what I was told when I was younger, that deal with racial bias, gender bias, and other sorts of bias against officers.

He meets Annie (Gretchen Mol), another police officer who tries to help him along on his journey but he never tells her about whom he really is until later in the season. His boss Lieutenant Gene Hunt (Harvey Kietel) is the commander of the squad, but he seems to be as devious as the criminals that are caught throughout the show. Thereís also Detective Ray Carling (Michael Imperioli) and Detective Chris Skelton (Jonathan Murphy) among many others who portray random characters that donít really give the story anything.

In case you havenít realized yet, the basic premise is that Sam is a cop from 2008 that is put back into 1973 due to an accident, and has to live in this crappy world until he can figure a way out. Thatís the whole show in a nutshell, but each episode deals with some eerie clues to the reason why heís in 1973 and how he eventually gets out. Thereís a creepy little girl on a bicycle that randomly appears, old people, and also some strange bugs that happen throughout. The episodes also deal with crimes committed in the area, which somehow relate to Sam and his real life back in 2008. Is it possible that other people traveled back in time with him, or are the people in 1973 just figments of his imagination?

This is one of those mystery shows, sort-of, that deal with time travel and also fitting in with the new world. Oh, and also cases get solved by the police force through brutality and other supposedly non-illegal ways that werenít in the 1970ís apparently. The cast isnít all that great in their roles, as Sam is either too serious or tries to be funny at the wrong times. The supporting cast of Imperioli and Keitel just donít fit into the mix either, with both of their characters appearing stale and see-through the entire time.

Thereís also a big reveal, as the show only lasted a mere sixteen episodes, as to why Sam is in 1973 and whatís really going on with some of the mysteries I already pointed out. I managed to figure it out about halfway through what was really going on, which I wonít spoil for you no matter how hard you beg, but I must say that the title of the show does have a meaning at some point. The show just didnít captivate me enough to keep me that interested until the very end, at which point the ending was already obvious and I grew bored anyways.

The casting isnít the best, the script is yawn, and there are also hilarious chase scene moments with horrible cheesy music playing. Normally I would be all for this kind of show, but this one just didnít work for me in anyway. Thereís too little mystery, not enough cop drama, and just not enough interesting things to talk about to keep peopleís interest.



ďOut Here in the FieldsĒ Commentary by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec: The pilot episode is dissected by the executive producer and a writer of the show. Thereís not a lot of entertainment to be had here, as the two talk about the show a bunch and some behind the scenes things as well, but overall I didnít find it that exciting.


ďThings to Do in New York When You Think Youíre DeadĒ Commentary by Jason Oí Mara, Michael Katleman, and Scott Rosenberg: This is yet another commentary that Iím not sure why itís on the disc, as the people commentating arenít entertaining in the slightest. They do give out a ton of information on this track, but itís not that fun to listen to. I suggest a listen only for diehard fans of the show.


ďLife is a RockĒ Commentary by Jason Oí Mara, Josh Applebaum, Scott Rosenberg, and Michael Katleman: The finale episode is talked about by the director of the episode, the writer, the executive producer, and finally the main character himself for the best of the three commentaries available for you. They explain the story, talk about their experiences on the show, and other various things. I recommend listening to this one over the other two just because this one is a little funny and does point out some cool items with the episode.

To Mars and Back (16 minutes): The cast and crew of the show talk about the casting that went into the show, as well as what the story is about. This ran way too long for my taste, but fans of the show will undoubtedly find this fun.

Sunrise to Sunset with Jason Oí Mara (10 minutes): Exactly how it sounds, as the life of the head actor of the show is chronicled. Itís slightly enjoyable but once again will only find entertainment value in those who found the series to be captivating.

Flashback: Lee Majors Goes to Mars (8 minutes): Lee Majors, the original Six-Million-Dollar man is shown in great detail with this feature. Thereís also a little trivia track that pops up with some cool information about him and other oddball things from the show.

Bloopers (3 minutes): The cast screws up their lines and their expressions in this mercifully short blooper reel. This can be skipped as thereís nothing really funny here.

Deleted Scenes (15 minutes): These made me go ďhuh?Ē multiple times throughout, so Iíd recommend passing on these unless you have just to watch them all. Thereís nothing here of value, entertainment, or any combination of the two.


Colors are slightly bland in this transfer, but this may be how it was originally intended given that the show is set in the 1970s. Even with that knowledge aside, this transfer just doesnít stand up to recent shows Iíve had the pleasure of watching. Contrast levels are slightly off, as I noticed scenes being either way too dark or way too bright as the season progressed. I also noticed some levels of grain and noise in the show, but nothing that would take away that much from your viewing of it, unless of course you are looking right for it.

Surprisingly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds wonderful for this short-lived show. Surround use is excellent, as at times even I was shocked by how great of a mix this is. I heard noises from all of my speakers throughout the series, whether they were door slams or just plain background noise, they all sounded phenomenal. Dialogue was also loud and engaging, but it was overshadowed a bit by the surround noise from time to time. This is a great track that I hope more studios take note of on how to make a decent mix in the future.


ďLife on MarsĒ isnít going to be winning any awards from me anytime soon, on the good or bad side, but itís not all that bad. I just couldnít get into the show until the last few episodes, and by then the show was mostly over and I figured out what was going on. The big twist at the end of the series is fairly obvious, so donít go expecting some mind-shattering conclusion. The special features while plentiful donít provide that much in terms of value, but the technical aspect is pretty good. This is a show worth a rental if youíre into the police/mystery genre, otherwise this is a trip to pass on.