Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oi, CSI - shut it!

The ever trusty barometer of office gossip tells me that the BBC have a hit on their hands with Life on Mars, and who am I to argue with the way the wind blows? I thought last night’s pilot was smashing telly, dishing out the mockery and homage in equal measure, in order to serve up a damn fine, classic cop show, climaxing in a perfectly placed slow-mo dual leap across a desk piled high with the finest biscuits your super-sized seventies’ money could buy. Shameless, and brill.

John Simm, as good as he’s ever been as the incredibly earnest DCI Sam Tyler, is cast back in time, and demoted to boot: from DCI in 2006, to DI in ‘73. There’s very able support from Philip Glenister as Sam’s new Gov, the gloriously pre-reformed, hands-on DCI Gene Hunt; and Liz White, as psych graduate WPC Annie Cartright. Every tacky ‘70’s trapping you can think of was present and correct, from the unremarked sexism and racism, to Open University, vinyl LPs, brown wallpaper, handled pint-pots, shouty coppers, and God knows what else. It was all very impressive.

Especially since I don’t know anyone who was expecting this to be good. Yes, Kudos have great form, and we all enjoy Spooks and Hustle, but a 21st century copper sent back to 1973? Please. I can see the comic misunderstandings already. Honestly now, who didn’t think this was going to be shit?

Thank Christ we can all still be surprised by our entertainment now and then.

Preview for episode two is here.

Category: Movies and TV


  1. I just hope you watched 'The Root of All Evil' before it at 8 on Channel4... The best tele I'VE seen in ages... Rock on Richard!

    Check it (if you didn't see it):


  2. I didn't see it, sorry. I find Richard Dawkins a little bit weird actually, but I'll try and catch it next week.

  3. I've PVR'd this but haven't had chance to watch it yet. Sounds like THE SINGING DETECTIVE redone for its fun value.

    Front Row had a crime novelist (John Harvey?)doing a preview in which he complained that 70s coppers would never have got away with such extreme behaviour in real life.

    But in the setup as he described it, everything was happening inside the comatose John Simm's head, with remarks by visitors and medical staff occasionally breaking through... which suggests that historical accuracy isn't the issue but it's in our great, unconscious shared culture that the scenario is being played out.

  4. The Singing Dectective comparison didn't occur to me at all, but I can see it now.

    It's possibly happening in Simm's head so, yes, these could be the seventies as we remember them from repeats on Men & Motors, or the writers could be pulling out every trope they can think of, striving for sensationalism rather than realism. Regan and Carter were not exactly by the book either, but their adventures took place in the "real" world.

    I think I might hold off on the coma diagnosis for now - is he a man dreaming he's a butterfly, etc, etc, and ultimately, does it matter? It could all get a bit phildickian. Next week we'll start to see just how ambitious this show is.

  5. This show was on my radar since the Jane Featherstone article. So I obtained it by nefarious means and I have to say -- wow. I was blown away. I think it's definitely got echoes of Singing Detective...it's also, to my mind, about a very different Great Britain. Strangely, since I know a lot of British expats here in Canada -- it's the Britain I've heard more stories about than your New Labour Cool Brittania bollocks.

    Anyway, this one struck me upside the head and I shall definitely be following it. I don't know any ofthe actors, but they're all top shelf. What an inventive and excellent show.

  6. I've seen it now and mostly enjoyed it, although I have a feeling from the preview at the end that I'll enjoy the second episode better... as a viewer I bought the dramatic concept right away, and there's only so much patience you can offer the main character until he comes out of denial and starts moving forward.

    If the preview's anything to go by, next week it really lets rip.