Take a look at the lawmen

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by

Although Life on Mars has got off to a reasonably impressive start ratings-wise, it’ll be tested from next Monday not least because it’ll be up against ITV’s latest Robson Green vehicle Northern Lights.

It’ll also be a challenge to maintain the sheer momentum and dramatic elan of the first episode. If the show settles into conventional casebook-style business, the “time travel” elements will surely begin to feel like bolted-on extras, somewhat superfluous to the main storyline and crowbarred into the plot. On the other hand if it continues to major on the fish-out-of-water theme, where can it go other than into increasingly cliched 1970s culture shocks? There are another seven hours to come; seven hours to explore a conceit already done and dusted in less than one.

If the series concentrates on how and why John Simm is imagining himself into 1973 and the potential for him starting to lose further grip on reality – with other “bits” of today popping up in yesteryear – it might pull off the trick of being the best crime drama since Between the Lines. Besides providing for a perfect way to pass the weeks until another time-traveller returns.


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