Life On Mars

Just in between these rather personal blogs, I pay tribute to some truly marvellous pieces of art that our modern culture moulds.

Currently, the last episode of "Life On Mars" has just screened. It was a belter. Except the ending. But before I get to that and before it looks like I've written off the most important denoument of any television phenomenon, let me get this straight. The ending was still fantastic. I'll get back to it though. Be patient, my grateful blog browser.

John Simm and Philip Glenister were completely firing on all cylinders for a pscyhedelic finale that somehow managed to incorporate flailing fists, outrageous Sweeney-stylee shouting and screeching cars that should be in something more sickeningly mundane like a one-off jack-off episode written by an alcoholic team writer of 'The Bill', desperately yearning off his early childhood memories of Dennis Waterman. Only this was the eminently more cleverer Matthew Graham chewing up the scriptwriting scenery of all the best that was in TV over the past 40 years. Those who know me really well, will know I'm going to boringly reference iconic and ground-breaking 1960s TV series "The Prisoner". But in a minute.

The thing I've really liked about this series is the ability for the rug to be pulled out from beneath the viewer and, in normal circumstances, antagonise the viewer too. The great thing is that that big glowing box in the corner of your room also manages to snook a massive wink in your direction when doing it. Ha, ya bastard, it's the 'The Professionals'. No, it's not, it's 'Doctor Who'. "I fucking hate Doctor Who," snaps the viewer. Nah, only kidding, me old China. We're back in 'Minder' territory. "Oh, I like Minder, reminds me of those fantastic free-market jive bunnies of the Thatcher years...". No, no, no, sorry, mate. Pyschological whirlwind of the criminal mind? We'll give you 'Cracker', son. Yes, yes. Let's get dug into the criminal mind... no, too late, Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is kicking several shades of shit out of him before we can get to the cause of the mental root of the crime. Fuck, I know, let's reference innocent children's TV plasticine paradise 'Camberwick Green' while we're at it.

Then, the ending occurs. I'm glad to report I'm not going to put any spoilers in. I realise that we're in a global community now and I can't do that. But it is beautiful and simultaneously annoying at the same time. Just like the whole series. Annoying, because I'll end up asking questions like: did he actually die at the start? Is he still in a coma? Was Gene Hunt the "malignant growth" or was it actually the new 'guv' and he was always living a glorious life? Or, teasingly, was it all the audience's hallucination (see absolutely final frame)? Certainly, by the sounds of that beautiful cover of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" to tickle you. Are we back in Kansas?

I was going to bore you all to death with 1960s TV series "The Prisoner". At this point in TV history, it was possible for the late Sir Lew Grade to hand power to one individual (Patrick McGoohan, a true television auteur) and walk away. The result was a switchboard meltdown when the final episode was screened. A true acid-trip ending to end all TV series. "Twin Peaks" in 1992, was the only TV series to come close. "The Prisoner" ending left you pondering whether you were still a prisoner, as you walked into your house from your flash car, then back into your car and into the sunset.

"Life On Mars" had an ending that left you questioning reality, but nothing that would involve the massive customer complaints that the "The Prisoner" generated. True art pisses the "The Daily Mail" reader off, rather like 'Brass Eye' did. Ultimately, "Life on Mars" still gave a heavily postmodern wink from your idiot box. But it made me laugh and it made me cry. Compared to nearly everything on television at the moment, surely that's utterly life affirming? I can't wait to see the feverish, face-in-the-pillow 'alternative' ending that Mr Matthew Graham dreamed up. Can't wait for the DVD extra features.

Five stars out of five stars. "I don't give a tart's furry cup what you think, Tyler!!".

Vote Saxon indeed. Roll on John Simm's next enigmatic incarnation, post-Van Gogh and post-Sam Tyler. I salute you, as always.

2 responses

Isn't it the worst kept secret in the world who Mister Saxon will be "revealed" to be?

PS. I take my 26/3 comment back - I'm sure this blog will at least average out to weekly posts!

Apparently it has been confirmed that there will be a new series (in the Sun today so not too official). It will be called Ashes to Ashes and star Gene Hunt as a DCI in the 80s with a female DCI being transported (or not) back in time.