DVD / Television

‘Life On Mars’ Series 2 DVD Hits The US

Pop Culture Zoo
Joseph Dilworth Jr.
November 22, 2009

As the saying goes, “ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.” While the American version of the popular British drama Life on Mars arguably carried the spirit and flavor, it still never achieved the sublime greatness of the original. Thankfully, Acorn Media now gives the Yanks the chance to experience both eight-episode series of this multi-award winning mind-bender of a program. Series one is already out and series two hits stores on November 24th. We take a look at both sets, courtesy of Acorn Media!

Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy
Series one begins in the year 2006 as DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) Sam Tyler (John Simm), with the Greater Manchester Police, is hot on the case after an elusive murderer. Shortly after a fellow officer goes missing in pursuit of the killer, Sam is hit by a car and falls unconscious. Upon awakening, Sam finds himself in 1973, with no idea of how he got there. Upon returning to the police station, which is the Manchester and Salford Police (predecessor to his police force), he discovers he is newly transferred Detective Inspector (DI) Sam Tyler under the auspices of DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister). The first series explores not only Sam trying to figure out if he’s mad, in a coma or an actual time-traveler, but reconciling the comparatively primitive 1973 policing procedures with the more modern, politically correct 2006 methods. Sam is also afforded the rare opportunity to discover why his father left him and his mother when Sam was young. Sam finds a willing apprentice in Detective Constable Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), an antagonistic rivalry with Detective Sergeant Ray Carling (Dean Andrews), an unexpected romance with Woman Police Constable Annie Cartwright (Liz White) and an eventual mutually respectful friendship with Hunt.

This first batch of episodes are some of the best written and acted television that’s ever been broadcast and this set from Acorn come loaded with some great bonus features. Here’s a breakdown of what each disc holds:

UK Life On Mars Series 1 DVD cover art

UK Life On Mars Series 1 DVD cover art

DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with co-creator and writer Matthew Graham, director Bharat Nalluri and producer Claire Parker.
  • Episode Two commentary with Bharat Nalluri and Claire Parker.
  • Bonus: “Take a Look at the Lawman Part 1″ – the first part of a documentary with the entire cast and crew including behind-the-scenes footage. Also included is a short interview with Bharat Nalluri.
  • DISC TWO

  • Episode Three commentary with Philip Glenister and director John McKay.
  • Episode Four commentary with John Simm, Philip Glenister, co-creator and writer Ashley Pharoah, John McKay and Claire Parker. If you don’t normally listen to commentaries, you will really want to make an exception in this case.
  • Bonus: “Take a Look at the Lawman Part 2″
  • DISC THREE

  • Episode Five commentary with co-creator and writer Tony Jordan, director S. J. Clarkson and Claire Parker.
  • Episode Six commentary with Matthew Graham, Ashley Pharoah and director John Alexander.
  • “The Music of Life on Mars” – an interview with series composer Ed Butt.
  • DISC FOUR

  • Episode Seven commentary with Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster, writer Chris Chibnall, S. J. Clarkson and Claire Parker.
  • Episode Eight commentary with John Simm, director John Alexander and Claire Parker. This one is also highly recommended.
  • Bonus: “Get Sykes” – an interview with production designer Brian Sykes. Also included is a very funny Outtakes Reel, mostly because of the counterpoint it gives to some of the more serious moments in the show.
  • Overall, the picture and sound quality are on par with the excellence of the series itself. All episodes are presented in uncut 16:9 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound.

    Wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best-selling show
    Without a doubt, Life on Mars lives and dies by the performances of the actors and this show would have never succeeded without John Simm as Sam Tyler and Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt. All the other actors do indeed perform impeccably, however the chemistry between Simm and Glenister is exceptional. This continues into series two. Sam is much more an accepted part of the team now while still trying to integrate modern procedures into his fellow officers’ interrogations and investigations. While this still creates lots of conflict between Sam and Gene, there is an obvious sense of mutual respect as well an understanding when the other’s methods might be most appropriate. The mystery surrounding Sam’s condition continue to deepen leading to an unforgettable finale episode that is still being debated. Eight more amazing episodes cap off a tremendous series and, once again, Acorn provides a terrific set.

    UK Life On Mars Series 2 DVD cover art

    UK Life On Mars Series 2 DVD cover art

    DISC ONE

  • Episode One
  • Episode Two
  • Bonus: “The Return of Life on Mars” – a 45-minute documentary with the cast and crew regarding the second series.
  • DISC TWO

  • Episode Three
  • Episode Four
  • Bonus: “Behind the Scenes of Episode Three” – first of three parts giving a great look at how a TV show is made.
  • DISC THREE

  • Episode Five
  • Episode Six
  • Bonus: “Behind the Scenes of Episode Five” – a second look at how it’s all put together. Also, a tour of the CID set, which gives you an idea of the amount of detail that went in to presenting the 1970’s.
  • DISC FOUR

  • Episode Seven
  • Episode Eight
  • Bonus: “Behind the Scenes of Episode Seven” – including the cameo by Green Cross Code mascot Tufty Fluffytail. Also, you will want to watch “The End of Life on Mars” although you should not expect the meaning of the end to be explained for you.Again, the episodes are presented in 16:9 wide-screen with 5.1 surround sound and look amazing on an HD LCD TV.
  • It’s the freakiest show

    Life on Mars is probably one of the greatest series to have ever appeared on television and is definitely a favorite of many. You will want to pick up both of these fine sets from Acorn Media. You can either get them straight from Acorn, at Amazon.com or at your favorite retailer.

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