Tuesday, May 08, 2007

After Life

Thanks to the glacial nature of programming at the ABC, it'll be another couple of weeks before the first episode of Life on Mars makes it to Australian TV.

For my regular 'Strayan viewers who don't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about, the show follows Sam, a detective from 2006 (John Simm) who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973 with no idea if he's in a coma, barking mad or has actually travelled in time.

UK readers will have more of a clue about the show, as it was a monster hit up there, recently concluding its second - and final - season (with plans already in the offing for an 80s spin off show,
Ashes to Ashes).

Now I'm usually reasonably patient, but after waiting an eternity for an announcement about when LoM would air over here, I sought out my own copies from Blighty. And last night I watched the last ever episode.

Wow. I'd already heard that the finale has divided audiences, a large number of people feeling somehow let down by Sam's fate, but I've got to say I thought it was great. There aren't many pieces of writing that can slam you with happiness and tragedy simultaneously and not fumble one or both. This is one of them.

As to the multiple interpretations of the ending, and its explanation of how Sam can be in 1973 ... well, let's just say I didn't get much sleep last night, what with all that mind-whirring over the details.

And if a TV show can still have you thinking about it well into the wee small hours, I'd call that a success, wouldn't you?


EDIT: Aussie readers may want to steer clear of the comments section - it's spoilerific.

6 Comments:

Blogger Ruby Tuesday said...

The show was AWESOME and totally agree - the ending was so powerful. I was puzzling over it too, but writer Matthew Graham said:-

“What I was trying to say is that he’s dead and that for however long that last second of life is going to be, it will stretch out for an age, as an eternity for Sam. When he drives off in that car, he’s really driving off into the afterlife.”

Also as Paul pointed out to me: when he switches the radio, the last words you hear are: 'we're losing him, ' and then the little girl from the test card comes and switches off transmission.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Pete Kempshall said...

[Runs back from putting spoiler warnings on the main page for Aussies who've not seen any episodes yet!]

That's certainly how I interpreted it - probably because I did get the radio announcement and the switch off by Test Card Girl.

However ... if it's all his version of the afterlife, how can Ashes to Ashes work? Someone else's version of the afterlife matches Sam's so completely that Gene Hunt appears in it?

One way round it that I read was the mind-bending idea that Sam really is from 1973 and that he imagined the 2006 stuff. But if that were true, how would he know all about the future with such accuracy?

The answer, according to the guy that put forward the theory: Sam made it up. He made up us, the viewers, and our whole future history. Yup, our entire reality is created by Sam Tyler, Matrix-style, and when he returns to life in 1973 at the very end, the Test Card Girl is switching US off because WE are his delusion, one he's now shaken off.

Not sure I've conveyed that clearly, and it is immensely head-screwing, but it does make a weird kind of sense, if you want to complicate things.

('Of course you do.')

7:50 PM  
Blogger Ruby Tuesday said...

Another great theory is the Wizard of Oz theory: A guy Frank Morgan played the Wizard of Oz in the 1939 film. (Frank Morgan was also the name of Sams surgeon/DCI)

Gene Hunt has nicknamed Sam 'Dorothy' quite often...

also Ray needs a heart, Chris needs a brain, Annie needs courage and Sam needs to get home.

..and what was the tune we heard when Sam "woke" ? Yeah that's right: Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I LOVE that theory! x

7:56 PM  
Blogger Pete Kempshall said...

Bloody hell, missed that one completely. Just goes to show how clever the writing is. Obviously I need to stay awake at night thinking about it a bit more ;)

8:08 PM  
Blogger David Bishop said...

Before Sam jumps off the building in 2006, he records a report about his time in 1973. This is discovered by someone who later finds themselves in 1981 - alongside Gene Hunt...

1:18 AM  
Blogger Pete Kempshall said...

Ah, now that would make sense.

I think.

6:42 PM  

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