Hopscotch / 4 disc set / 600 minutes / extras
John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews
Every so often there comes along a TV show that totally defies your expectations of television and this stunningly good spin on the detective series sees modern day cop Sam Tyler (the brilliant John Simm) get run over and knocked unconscious, when he wakes he is more than a little disturbed to find he is now in 1973 – working with the hard as nails DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, who in the performance of a lifetime has surely created one of TV’s great characters here, more Jack Regan than Jack Regan, a man who relies on his coppers intuition and his fists to get results).
Sam is able to use his modern day skills to quickly make headway into the team (they believe he has been transferred from Hyde, another suburb of Manchester where the series is set) and he also develops a friendship with young WPC Annie Cartwright (Liz White) but he remains convinced that he is really in a coma and that this “reality” is his brains way of coping, he is determined to do whatever he has to to get back to his own time.
Hanging on to this premise are the storylines themselves with each episode Sam and Gene sparking off each other to solve their cases. Having been lucky enough to recently see the second and final season of this show we know just how good it gets, with its myriad of clues and pointers to what is really going on with Sam in every episode. When everything plays out Life on Mars is going to go down as one of the best TV shows of the year and one of the best TV shows of the modern era, a brilliant candidate for DVD as you need to watch each episode several times to pick up on all the clues and ideas, not to mention the great 70’s soundtrack of course. And there is definitely no truth in the rumour that if you play the CD of Dark Side of the Moon alongside episode one you get to hear the soundtrack from the Wizard of Oz.
Besides being very groovily put together with its retro looking packaging, there are some great extras spread across this four disc set, including 60 minuute documentary Take A Look at the Lawman (full of behind the scenes stuff and cast and crew interviews), a featurette on production designer Paul Sykes called Get Sykes (in homage to Michael Caines Get Carter), there’s a collection of out-takes, a featurette on the music used in the series and audio commentaries on every episode from most of the cast and crew.