Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mars Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

So is anyone else watching Life on Mars?

It starts out with a completely oddball premise: an NYPD police detective in the present day is hit by a car and wakes up as a police detective in 1973; this, of course, sets up a running clash between the mores (and fashions and music) of the two times, all in the context of a '70s-style cop show.

Jody and I loved the British version; I was a little leery of an American remake, especially when it was going to be done by David E. Kelley. More... (There are two kinds of David E. Kelley shows: the kind that start out funny and original and clever but wind up getting smothered by their own preciousness; and the kind that are smothered by their own preciousness from the start.) Fortunately, Kelley was off the project before it got underway, and the current producers are doing a bang-up job. It's (mostly) true to the original, but with deviations that recognize the differences between Britain and the U.S. Great cast (Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli, among others), sharp writing, interesting stories. Not in the same league as The Wire, say, but definitely 95th percentile for broadcast television.

And speaking of The Wire, the Life on Mars people are obviously big fans: one episode had guest appearances from Clarke Peters (Lester Freamon), Chris Bauer (Frank Sobotka), and Chad Coleman (Cutty). Gotta love any show that pays homage to great television like that.