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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 18, 2006

That difficult second episode

First episodes are hard to do well, because there's so much to do in 45 minutes, and you need to hook the audience on the storyline and characters as quickly as possible.

So I forgive a slightly ropy opening episode. It's the second one that should really draw you in, and give you a real flavour of what the show will be like.

The second Life on Mars was excellent, I thought. Now we've accepted that he's back in '73, for whatever reason, we can get on with the social commentary (it's a powerful drama with a lot to say about crimes, communities, and police procedures), the character building, the thrills and spills, and - even - the scary bits.

There were a couple of excellent scenes in the second episode - a conversation with the girl on the BBC test card, and a bit where his 2006 self crashed on life support and his 1973 self saw all the lights go out and the doors close (like the opening sequence of Get Smart, was it? Or The Man from U.N.C.L.E?).

The second Surface was a good'n, too, because this show has clearly learned the lessons of Buffy and the X Files, and is going for laughs as well as scares. They played with scale in this episode in a really clever way - starting with the cute, baby monster captured by a schoolkid (like a miniature, amphibian, dragon), showing us just enough of its mama - dissected in a lab, leaving a dinosaur-sized skeleton -, and then finishing with a Jaws spoof moment of pure, jaw-hitting-floor hilarity, as an absolute monster rises up from the deep and swallows a whole fishing boat.

Top stuff.


  • Not everyone has liked LoM but I thought that whilst the premise is interesting (is he dead/alive, coma, timetrapped whatever) what really strikes home IS the stuff about how much things have changed for the better (paramedics on ambulances for one, reduced sexism for another).

    There is a lot of nostalgia for the glorious past and I rather like this showing it up for what it was, whereas watching stuff actually made in the period just lulls you into accepting it.

    By Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg, at 4:45 am  

  • Yeah, it was pretty amazing to see ambulance drivers just shoving a critical patient onto an ambulance as if she was already a corpse and they were the undertakers.

    Loved the bit where he was trying to remember the correct form of the old police caution: "You're nicked!"

    Or, as The Sweeney would have it: "Get your trousers on, you're nicked." Little reference there in LoM, because the perp was, in fact, without trousers.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 4:50 am  

  • Not forgetting the classic white dog poo name-droppings.

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 5:42 am  

  • Yeah, whatever happened to white dog poo?!

    The question is, what would Gillian say about white dog poo...

    By Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg, at 8:38 am  

  • Oooh, I know the answer to that one.

    Dogs don't get bones from the butcher so much these days, they all eat IAMS or whatever, so they don't have as much calcium in their poo.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 8:46 am  

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