Dark days ahead for this blog, I fear. The studios now seems determined to break the union, which means the strike could go on a really long time (not that anyone but critics care, but the mid-winter TCA press tour just got canceled), and most of the shows I follow are either out of episodes or almost out. For the first time that I can remember on a weeknight in-season, my DVR didn't have anything set to record in primetime. I briefly pondered watching ABC's two-hour bloc of "According to Jim" and "Boston Legal" before deciding to be kinder to myself by watching another "Wire" episode, then introducing my wife to McLovin and "Superbad."
Thank God, then, for "Life on Mars," which returned to BBC America's lineup tonight. I'd already seen the premiere, but at least it gives me something to blog about for the evening. Spoilers coming up just as soon as I throw some punks off a rooftop...
I hadn't realized how much I missed Gene Hunt until he broke down the door of Tyler's apartment and boasted that their next case was "as big as Shelly Winters' ass!" Between that entrance, his response to Sam's question about whether he keeps a reporter in his basement for random beatings ("Don't have a basement") and, especially, him threatening to torture cremains to make a suspect talk, it's safe to say they didn't soften up ol' Gene for the second season.
It's also safe to say that they haven't lost that tricky balance between spoofing the cliches and political incorrectness of '70s police dramas and embracing them. Gene provides the comic relief, but he also keeps these stories grounded because you believe he existed back in 1973, while Sam provides both the pathos and the fantastical elements that open every other part of the show up for questioning. Is Sam really in the past? Is he crazy? Some combination of the two? Will he have a crossover with "Journeyman" in the series finale?
I watched all of season one in a rush a year and a half ago before it premiered here, and the episodes have blurred in my memory since, but I think this is the first time Sam has been this overt in his talk of the future (except with Annie) and his attempts to change it. I'm curious to see whether Gene took any of Sam's ranting seriously or if he dismissed it as yet another eccentricity of his second in command, but with the series' end coming with this batch of episodes, I imagine Gene will have to confront the future at some point.
As always when I write about shows that have already aired in another country, I'm going to ask that we keep the discussion contained to the episodes as they air here. No spoilers or even loud hints about what's to come, got it? The one thing I think is fair game is to discuss how the original British cuts differ from the abbreviated versions that are going to be airing on BBC America. I believe my screeners (which I'll be watching one at a time, so I'll be guaranteed at least one interesting scripted show per week for a while) are the original cuts, but I imagine some of you who already watched the show will be doing it again on BBC America. If you want to mention important or memorable scenes that got chopped, feel free -- just so long as you're talking about this specific episode and not something that's going to play out three weeks from now.
What did everybody else think?