LIFE ON MARS: Intruding on My Kingdom of Awareness

ABC’s Life on Mars continues to be what it is. The moments ripped straight from the British version are adequate, if not as well executed as those in the original. (I still suspect they’re more fun for people who haven’t seen them before–I know I enjoyed the foot chase in Speedos more the first time I saw it.) The new material–and we’ll be getting more and more of that as the season stretches beyond the original series’ total of 16 episodes–has to date been ham-handed and obvious. Some of the new twists have the additional problem of removing the sense of menace and disorentation from the story–a charming nudist neighbor hardly allows Sam time to get lost in the maze of his own time warp, while Harvey Keitel’s relative enlightment makes him a less appalling boss, meaning that the ways he and Sam warm to each other have less weight.

What might say the most about the storytelling, however, is that instead of trying to piece together how they’ll get to the end of the season (signposted in exactly the same way the original was), the show leads me to be obsessed with the question of whether men really don’t flush urinals after using them, or whether that only happens on TV shows where the rushing water might obscure the next line. I could have lived without that journey of enlightenment.

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