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TV on DVD: "Life on Mars: Series 2"

Time to go down the yellow brick road again.

Yes, Stateside Life on Mars fans, that day has finally arrived as Acorn Media today releases the complete second season of the original UK drama series Life on Mars on DVD.

Forget about the lackluster (and mercifully short-lived) American version and travel back to the 1970s with the original UK Life on Mars, which has only deepened and grown more mysterious and provocative after its abrupt conclusion in 2007.

Not up to speed on the franchise? Created by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan, and Ashley Pharoah, Life on Mars is an alternately trippy and gritty crime drama series that follows the adventures of Detective Inspector Sam Tyler (John Simm), a grimly determined investigator in present-day Manchester who is seemingly thrown backwards in time. While in pursuit of the serial killer that abducted his girlfriend, Sam is struck by a car and finds himself mysteriously in 1973 Manchester, where he comes face to face with a personal mystery from his childhood and the best fictional copper on television, the swaggering misanthrope Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister). Can Sam get home and save his girlfriend? Has he traveled back in time? Or is he losing his mind completely?

Season Two deepens the mystery and the drama even as Sam moves closer both to understanding the nature of the place he's in (is he deep within his subconscious? is he in a coma in a hospital someplace) and to a full-blown romance with female copper Annie (Liz White), who might just be one of the most perfectly realized love interests ever to grace the small screen. He's also forced to make a number of life-altering choices throughout the second season. Can be betray his boss, Gene Hunt? Can he leave his police colleagues in jeopardy if an escape route back to his normal life materializes? What price do these decisions have on his very being?

The second season brilliant answers these questions and more, offering a metaphysical mystery that unfolds over eight gripping installments that juxtapose Sam's struggle to regain his life with a vintage procedural police series that's both a parody of such 1970s cop television fixtures as The Sweeney and a gripping tour de force in its own right. (Hell, Glenister's Gene Hunt has proven so popular and so iconic that he's a major element of the sequel series Ashes to Ashes.)

The four-disc release of Life on Mars: Series 2 includes a slew of bonus material including a 45-minute documentary entitled "The Return of Life on Mars," behind-the-scenes footage of select episodes, a tour of the series' set, and a 28-minute featurette entitled "The End of Life on Mars." (Which, if I'm being honest, makes me teary-eyed every time I watch it.)

Ultimately, Life on Mars is one series that is virtually impossible to pigeonhole into a genre and that's a very good thing at the end of the day. Is it sci-fi? A police procedural? Who cares, it’s bloody good television that proves impossible to look away from.

Life on Mars: Series 2 is available today on DVD for the suggested retail price of $59.99. Or pick it up in the Televisionary store for just $39.49 today.


MyTBoosh said…
Love, love, love this show. The American version didn't even begin to do it justice. The series is truly innovative and wildly entertaining with excellent performances from all of the cast. I can't wait to watch it again!
Beans said…
I watched season 1 from Netflix and liked is so much I will buy season 2 I did like the American version but the English one is so much better
Anonymous said…
It's an exciting and intelligent show and the final two episodes especially offer terrific, emotional and thrilling closure. I cried during the final episode when -- well let's say that the series ends in a pretty definitive way.

But Annie as the best love interest in TV history? Come on, Jace! She's cute and caring but I can name dozens of classic TV characters that are better realized. We saw VERY little of Annie's personal life over the 16 episodes. Compare that to all the great stuff we saw with Mary Louise Parker on the West Wing -- a character who was brought in to be a love interest and wound up totally changing the feel of the show and making some episodes incredibly romantic.

Life on Mars is all about Sam and Gene and their clashing philosophies (powers the conflict in virtually every episode).

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