Life On Mars (KDrama Vs Brits) Review
- Genre: Supernatural, Paranormal, Crime, Policing, Serial Killer, Time Travel
UK Tv Version
Date Released: 2006
- John Simm as Sam Tyler
- Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt
- Liz White
- Dean Andrews
- Marshall Lancaster
This drama is based on the brilliant original 2006 BBC TV series Life on Mars. The US and other countries copied the format for their version of the TV series, but in my opinion, never bettered the original.
Summary of the British drama. By Peter Morton an avid fan of the BBC series)
In 2006, A modern, ambitious young Detective Inspector (DI) named Sam Tyler is investigating a major crime. While driving to a meeting, he has a serious car accident. While he lies on the road losing consciousness, the iPod in his car is playing David Bowie’s iconic ‘Life on Mars’ song. Hours late, Sam wakes up in the road and he can still hear the song. He gets up and looks around but his car has gone and an unfamiliar car is there in it’s place, with an old 1970s style 8 track tape player in the car playing the song.
Sam is confused, puzzled and with a bad headache, he gets into the car and drives to his meeting. The destination and all round him have changed.
He is about to meet and become involved with interesting characters of a bygone era. Political Correctness does not exist and life is played out to different conventions to what he has known in his 21st centruy life.
When he arrives at his destination, he is met by a senior detective, who appears to be expecting Sam and welcomes him to be a member of his team investigating local serious crimes.
The senior detective is named Gene Hunt. For the early episodes, Sam thinks Hunt is “an overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding” Anger management is unknown to Hunt too.
Hunt’s all male detective team have similar outlooks to him and will use physical means to coerce suspects etc. Police women (one assists the team) are seen as only generally usefu, making tea and typing up reports etc. Sam mentions his accident and he learns from a bemused Hunt, who thinks Sam has lost his memory reminds Sam this is 1973. Sam is of course quite shocked and puzzled. He goes along with all that is happening, while trying to rationlise what is happening to him.
Gene Hunt & the team think Sam is initially too soft and not hard enough to be a proper detective, let alone a policeman. They get confused and think he is mad when he tries to explain to them modern forensics, crime detection and political correctness unknown in that time.
Sam is frustrated by the antics, hard-drinking, sexist banter and lack of modern police methods.
As teh series developes Gene Hunt becomes iconic. The viewer and Sam come to see that Gene Hunt, despite his rough and ready exterior,has in fact, a caring side, good old fashioned instinctive detective ability and is a committed good guy as are his team. Sam, Gene and team get to respect each other and become friends. Romance beckons with the police woman(no female detectives), member of the team too.
The viewer, like Sam himself, has to workout if he is dead and has either gone to some sort of afterlife, or in a coma and dying with vivid dreams, or somehow he has gone back in time.
While his day-to-day 1970s experience seem all to real to Sam, he also experiences surreal auditory and hallucinatory instances, some where his name being called from a distant place., Is medical intervention trying to revive him?
Things & events happen in the background, which intrigue the viewer. One such, is a pub barman, who gives Sam profound pearls of wisdom about existence.
As the story progresses, Sam gets to enjoy and settle into his ‘new life’ as it is much simpler and less complicated than his fast paced and pressurised, goal orientated 21st century modern existence. Sam finds genuine friendship and camaraderie and feels he is doing good. He begins to prefer to stay in this new life.
Is Sam accepting death, or his place in a new time, somehow granted to him?
In the last episode, in hospital, Sam wakes up from a coma in his real-time. He recovers from his accident and eventually returns to work. He feels out-of-place and hates the modern complicated world he grew up in. He takes the ultimate decision and jumps off the roof of his tall HQ building, killing himself, to return his preferred existence.
Following the popularity of the first series, a second series was made.
It was called Ashes to Ashes (another Bowie song), with a new lead character. This time it is an ambitious female detective named Alexandra Drake. In the first epsiode Drake is shot in the head by a criminal. As Drake lies deeply unconscious, she experiences the same as Sam did in the first series. The same 1970s era, the characters of Gene Hunt and his team. This time with added issue of being a feisty modern senior female detective previously unknown now ‘alive’ in this male dominated world!
This second series further hints at an idea of an afterlife or existence.
Gene Hunt and his team are gradually revealed to be possibly much more than the routine cops they portray. Are they, along with some other characters ‘angels’ or ‘guides’? In one episode, Hunt is talking to Drake and he mysteriously alludes to another detective who passed through before her arrival.
The viewer can ponder the deeper meaning of this, which in my opinion was an excellent, original and creative piece of drama, with great actors and acting.
- South Korean Drama Version
- Date Released: June 2018
- KDrama: 16 episodes
- Jung Kyung Ho as Han Tae-Jo
- Park Sung Woong as Kang Dong Chul
- Go Ah Sung as Yoon Na Young
- Oh Dae Hwan as Lee Jong-gi
- Noh Jung Hyun as Jo Nam-sik
I came late to this drama, not because I did not think much of it.
Au contraire, it was the opposite. The presence of Jung Kyung Ho and Go Ah Sung would guarantee a drama to be of topmost excellence. Added to the equation is that this is a BBC drama original.
You cannot go wrong!!!
Han Tae-Jo is on top of his crop as a forensic police investigator. He is very punctilious with his work. Even if the result is not what is popular, he fights for it.
This made him unpopular to many policemen, who tend to look after themselves with their cronyism. Some police cut corners to get the result they wanted.
Han Tae-Jo fought this kind of anomalies, including with a rabid policeman who sent an innocent to jail for three years.
Anyway Han Tae Jo was a key witness to a prolific serial killer, who paints the victims nail with red nail varnish.
They got the culprit and it was almost a done deal that he was going to jail. But Han Tae Jo testified that the forensic evidence was contaminated. There were no other evidence and therefore the killer was freed.
han Tae Jo testimony did not sit down well with the prosecutor, who happened to be his ex-girlfriend.
Han Tae Jo himself was very upset with the result. He got home and drank himself to sleep. He was awakened the next morning with the news that the prosecutor had gone missing. He noticed that he received several calls from her telling him that there was someone else behind the serial killer.
Han Tae Jo was visibly upset and and scared that the prosecutor has become another statistic to the serial killing.
They search everywhere and finally found the place where the killer was hiding. Han Tae Jo himself gave chase to the killer. He was about to get him when someone pointed a gun to Han Tae Jo’s head and fired.
He woke up and under the David Bowie’s Life on Mars song, Han Tae Jo staggered to his car only to get hit by another car.
He then again woke up in a strange location.
It was 1998. The 1988 was about to take place in South Korea and as a precaution, there was an impromptu war drill.
Han Tae Jo, just stood in the middle of the road utterly confused with the goings on. And then he spied the serial killer. He run after him and the police run after Han Tae Jo.
The man Han Tae Jo was running after was not quite the serial killer.
They all ended up in the police station, where Han Tae Jo was roughed up by the police as he cannot show any ID and the fact that he told them that he works at the Metropolitan police, which did not exist in 1988.
In the end an envelop of documents drop out from his leather jacket which notified who he was and that he was the new detective inspector.
In the station, he met everyone of the team, including Kang Dong Chul (Gene Hung equivalent) who has not been visited by political correctness.
There was also a young policewoman, who was more a housekeeper, in charge or laundry and tea-making among other menial task. The policewoman was Yoon na took him to his new house.
The room was almost bare except for an old television. When he switched it on, he saw someone talking about him, his body in the present time being in a coma.
Han Tae Jo was rudely woken up the next morning by Kang Dong Chul. He took him to the site of a murder.
A girl has been killed. Han Tae Jo immediately notices that her nails had been painted red.