Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Hunt is the C-word
EXPLAINED! Life On Mars, BBC1, 9.00pm
And now back to 1973 (or is it?), where Sam Tyler finally gets some answers (or does he?) in the final episode EVER (or is it? Yes, it is) of Life On Mars, and the rest of us finally get to learn the truth behind Sam's rather individually-tailored situation. Kudos to the BBC for not dragging the series on beyond its natural shelf life and public interest rate, leaving behind a hermetically-sealed little modern classic with lots of brown cars in it, not to mention a completely new definition for the term "coma acting".
So, what IS going on inside Sam's head? Well, we don't know, obviously, but we've heard some very convincing explanations over the past couple of weeks, and with the arrival of the enigmatic, Samlike DCI Frank Morgan in the penultimate episode last week, it seems that Sam may finally be due a decent explanation himself. But will he like what he hears? Can Morgan be trusted? And why does he seem so keen to get Gene out of the way? After two series of Sam and Gene colliding with each other at every turn and yet apparently building a mutual respect for each other's unfamiliar policing methods, is it time for them to start punching each other again? Is Gene Hunt possibly more real than Sam gave him credit for? Could he even be the key to Sam waking up? How easy is it to write a fairly convincing theory into a preview without making the whole thing blindingly apparent? Not very, it seems.
What we do know is that events come to a head at a rather critical moment during a police operation to foil a train heist (or do they?), and that other operations and other heads may also be involved in other planes of reality and [un]consciousness. The BBC say they've filmed two endings (or have they?), so whether it ends with Sam alive or dead or awake or asleep or being fed half a dozen different explanations for his predicament and having to sort through them with his quite good police brain, we have no idea.
Naturally, the relief at finally being let in on the secret is mixed with sadness at the passing of what has been one of the finest, most engaging and beautifully-shot television shows of recent years, with the personality-clash dynamic of Tyler and Hunt's partnership for people who like police dramas and the underlying mystery of the entire situation for people who never thought they'd get so involved in a police drama but always enjoy something a bit baffling. Of course, there's some consolation to be had from vague promises of Hunt-centred spin-off Ashes To Ashes (hmmm), not to mention the prospect of John Simm expanding his time-travel CV in the Doctor Who finale in a couple of months. Though whether he'll be required to flirt with his mother again has yet to be confirmed.