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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life On Mars Finale

I've been behind on episodes of Life On Mars, one of the few episodic shows I watched on television. (To my dismay, this show was cancelled after one season as was the other one I liked, proving once again that I am the kiss of death.) I spent the last couple of weeks catching up and I finally saw the final episode, not just of the season, but of LOM. All I have to say is OMG, it was brilliant!

(BTW, I saw the US version of this show. The British version hasn't been on BBC America since I began checking and I haven't had an opportunity to see any of that production.)

I'm going to do my best not to give out spoilers because it would totally ruin the ending if I did (and I was so glad I hadn't seen any spoilers before watching the last episode!), but my jaw dropped in amazement and all I could think is man, I hope I can be that ingenious some day. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Sam Tyler is a NYC police detective in 2008 who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. We see him struggle to figure out what happened, watch him solve cases, and see him grow closer to his fellow detectives, people that he couldn't imagine befriending when he first arrived.

As a viewer, I was left guessing what had happened the same way Sam is left guessing. Is he unconscious? In a hospital? Is he dead? Is he hallucinating? Is he part of some government mind control experiment? The list of possibilities is long, and just when I thought I was sure what was going on, the next episode would have me doubting myself. Then there were the items that didn't make sense. Were those things red herrings? Or did they mean something?

And then I'd heard LOM had been cancelled. On the plus side, ABC did it far enough in advance that the show's writers were able to wrap it all up. They did a hell of a job.

I was prepared to be disappointed. I had a guess how it would end and I knew I wasn't going to like it. Everything pointed toward the ending that would leave me thinking, meh. I was wrong. Utterly, completely, totally wrong. The writers--or whoever dreamed up the ending--took me by surprise and they were awesome! I keep saying that, awesome, brilliant, but it was both those things.

There might be plot holes, I don't know. I have to watch the entire season again knowing how it did end to spot that. The Powers-That-Be for LOM might have decided to change course midway through the season; that's something else I'll be wondering as I re-watch the show. It does end very differently than the British version did--I went online to check that because I was curious--and I like the US ending a lot more than the original show's ending.

I'm very picky when I watch television/movies, and while I try to just enjoy what I'm watching, my writer's brain is busy studying the stories. I can't seem to help it, and for me, one of the marks of a good series or movie is the ability to make me stop studying and just enjoy. Life On Mars was able to do that for me. Even with that on its side, how something ends rarely excites me and I'm almost never taken by surprise--much to my dismay. :-) Maybe that's why I'm still all hepped up today nearly 24 hours after I saw the last episode.

I recommend the series highly. I also recommend watching the entire season in order (the DVD version comes out this fall and Netflix should have it then) so you can appreciate the ending the most and look for clues all the way through.

I downloaded all the episodes from iTunes, but I can't watch those on my TV without a hookup so I preordered the DVDs on Amazon. For me to pay for something twice is a testament to how much I loved this show.

I would have scored LOM highly just based on most of the episodes, but because of the end, I give it 5 stars. A must watch.