What a great series. Guns, Birds, Booze, Mancunians and (maybe) Time travel. What more can you want? It's been a wholey original series that has great charm and cracking dialogue. We've become used to this week in week out, so imagine my shock to find that Episode 8 of series 2 managed to do the seemingly impossible and drop the ball.
Quite simply, I think the writers missed a chance to do something really special with the finale of "Life on Mars". This episode was below par when compared to nearly every other of the last two series, and as a finale it's quite a mess. I was never really expecting to get any concrete answers as to whether Sam Tyler was living in a dream world or if he had indeed really been transported back in time, but i was looking forward to an emotionally charged finale all the same. Sadly, the series appears to have left us on a bum note.
Compared to past storylines the whole "crazy cop killer/ train robber" was very tepidly run of the mill, and the way they dealt with Sam's return to the "real world" was uninteresting to say the least. Maybe it was time constraints, or the lack of a mega budget (a la "Lost" in the US) but "Life on Mars" ultimately failed to capitalise on the mystery and intregue that it has slowly built up over the last 15 episodes. There was no pay off and we were never given any real understanding as to why he was seemingly in the 70's in the first place. We were given the impression that the series was headed towards some sort of finite goal, maybe we'd at last find out what Sam Tylers real purpose was. But alas, it seems the storytellers were content with avoiding any real high concept and settling for a paint-by-numbers filler ending. Its all a bit of a mess really. If there was one saving grace it was the performances, which were fine as always. John Simm IS D.C.I Sam Tyler, plain and simple. Still, I can't help but be disapointed at the lack of imagination shown in this episode, and as a result it has put a slight dampner on the rest of the series.