Tag Archives: Life On mars

Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – The Sweeney

Before there was Life On Mars, there was The Sweeney. Before there was Gene Hunt, there was Jack Regan.

The Sweeney took the old-fashioned, cosy, affable respectability of the then traditional British police dramas such as Dixon Of Dock Green and even Z Cars and turned it on its head by replacing it with a gritty, violent realism and flawed heroes who would quite happily bend (and even break) the law to get the job done.

It was based around the exploits of hard-men cops in the London Met‘s Flying Squad (“Sweeney Todd” being cockney rhyming slang for Flying Squad), an elite branch of the police dealing with armed robbery and other violent crimes.

The main characters were Detective Inspector Jack Regan, played by the late John Thaw, and Detective Sergeant George Carter, played by Dennis Waterman.

The show was developed from a successful one-off drama called Regan which aired in 1974 as part of ITV’s long-running Armchair Cinema series. The Sweeney itself ran for four seasons (53 episodes plus two movies released in cinemas) between 1975 and 1978.

The show really changed the face of British TV crime drama and the influence of its legacy can be seen in shows to this day.

And, of course, The Sweeney also had one of the most recognisable and best-loved theme tunes of any British TV show.

Here are the opening titles:

And here are the closing titles:

Here’s the full version of the theme:

And, for younger fans of Life On Mars who have never seen The Sweeney and would like to see one of the main influences on the show and on the character of Gene Hunt in particular, here is the first 10 minutes of the pilot episode (the rest of it is also on YouTube, along with a few other episodes):

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TV Newsround: Renewals And Cancellations – Life On Mars Runs Out Of Air(time) But Heroes Breathes A Sigh Of Relief… And More

BAD news for fans of the American version of the BBC hit Life On Mars. US network ABC have announced that they are cancelling the show and it won’t be back for a second season. Which is a shame because against all odds, it was actually a pretty good translation.

The good news is that the producers have been given enough notice to give the show a proper finale that wraps up the story – and the network has confirmed that new episodes will continue to air as scheduled, rather than being shelved indefinitely (the show airs in the US on Wednesday nights after Lostbut has been unable to hang on to enough of that show’s large lead-in audience to satisfy the moneymen).

It means that viewers will soon find out why and how the US Sam Tyler (played by Irishman Jason O’Mara) was transported back to 1973 New York, rather than leave them in limbo wondering what was going on.

As the Choob has previously reported, the US producers had already made it clear that the ultimate explanation for Sam’s temporal displacement would be different from the ending of the BBC show. All will be revealed when the final episode airs on May 1.

In related news, Gretchen Mol, who plays WPC Annie Norris (above, far right) in the US Life On Mars, is said to be in talks to join the cast of the Witches Of Eastwick TV show pilot.

BETTER news for Heroes fans. As expected, despite sliding ratings, NBC has officially confirmed that the show will return for a fourth season later this year. However, there are rumours that talks are now underway to set a definite end date for the show to wrap up.

BUDGET cuts that had threatened to prevent The Sarah Silverman Program returning to Comedy Central for a third season have been resolved.

Silverman, right, and the show’s other producers had been reluctant to accept a lower budget on the grounds it would affect the quality of the show.

However, a new, 10-episode season has now been ordered after sister network Logo, which targets lesbian and gay viewers, stepped in to plug the financial gap.

THE BBC has ordered a third season of period drama Lark Rise To Candleford. It will be filmed this summer and is due to be broadcast early next year.

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TV Newsround – Penny Spent? Kate Going? The Next Gen Boldly Returning? And More…

Is Lost‘s Penny doomed? The Choob has been worried about Penelope Widmore, girlfriend of Desmond Hume – the world’s favourite Scottish, Glasgow Celtic-supporting, time-travelling island-hopper – since nasty, vengeful Benjamin Linus said he was off to attend to some unfinished business, then was next seen covered in cuts and bruises next to some boats at a marina.

Further fuelling my fears, was the word that actress Sonya Walger, right, who plays Penny, had signed up for the lead role in the pilot of new sci-fi drama Flash Forward (lots more about that show here).

However, Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello offers some comfort, as he reports that Lost insiders say they are not done with Penny yet and that Walger will balance work on the two shows (they are both on the ABC network), should Flash Forward progress to a full series.

Of course, on Lost, the fact that a character will appear in future episodes does not necessarily mean they will be alive…

Talking of Lost, the rumour that has been spreading around “teh internets” over the last few days that Kate is being killed off (fuelled by a claim that actress Evangeline Lilly has been auditioning for new shows) has been flatly denied by the producers of Lost, network ABC and Lilly’s own spokespeople, all of whom insist Kate will be on the island until the show ends next year.

All the original main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation have signed up for a reunion – on a special episode of animated sitcom Family Guy.

Patrick Stewart, Levar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, Denise Crosby, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Jonathan Frakes will appear in an episode called Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, in which the Griffin clan visit the annual Quahog Star Trek convention.

ITV’s poorly-received Saturday-night prime-time fantasy drama Demons is facing the axe after a single season, according to tabloid reports. Star Philip Glenister (best known for playing Gene Hunt in the original UK version of Life On Mars and its sequel Ashes To Ashes) has reportedly quit his role as vampire hunter Rupert Galvin. This, along with rapidly-declining ratings throughout the first season’s run, seem likely to signal its demise.

What credit crunch? NBC is said to be charging advertisers up to $500,000 for a 30-second commercial slot during the two-hour last-ever episode of ER, which airs in the US on April 2.  Such advertising slots normally cost around $135,000. George Clooney returns in the finale for one last appearance as Dr Doug Ross, left, along with a few of the show’s other former stars.

With the second season of The CW’s Reaper starting on Tuesday (March 3) Sci Fi Wire has a video interview with star Bret Harrison revealing what lies in store for the Devil’s errand boy this year.

As season seven of 24 approaches the half-way mark on Fox, it has been announced that executive producer John Cassar won’t be back for season eight (which may well be the show’s final season), after failing to agree a new contract deal. He had been with the series for six years.

His next project will be as director of CBS pilot Washington Field, a crime drama about a team of elite agents operating out of the FBI’s Washington field office.


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British Shows Invade US TV

BBC America will broadcast three British fantasy/sci-fi shows later this year.

Survivors, which completed its first, six-episode season on BBC1 in the UK just before Christmas, is an remake/update of a 7os BBC show of the same name, created by Terry Nation, who also created Blake’s 7 and co-created Doctor Who’s deadliest foes, The Daleks.

The post-apocalyptic drama, follows a small group of strangers who band together to survive in the aftermath of a virus that wipes out 99.9% of the human race.

As they struggle to start over they face not only a struggle to find food and water, but also find themselves under threat from other survivors and, in some cases, their own troubled pasts.

A second six-episode season has been ordered by the BBC and will air in the UK later this year.

Being Human is a quirky drama/horror about three 20-something flatmates, a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf, as they struggle to live normal lives and avoid their secret double lives being exposed.

The first six-episode series is currently airing on BBC3 in the UK.

Finally, BBC America will broadcast the 10-episode season three of Primeval, which is due to air on the UK’s ITV1 in the Spring.

The first two seasons of the show, 13 episodes in total, about a team of experts who battle dinosaurs that emerge into modern-day London through a time anomaly, aired last year in the States.

BBC America has already announced it will be screening the first season of Ashes To Ashes, the sequel to the BBC version of Life On Mars, later this year. Season two of Ashes To Ashes is due to air on BBC1 in the Spring.



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Gene Hunt’s Five-Year Plan

Ashes To Ashes, the sequel to time-tripping cop show Life On Mars is on it’s way to America. That’s the BBC sequel to the BBC Life On Mars, not to be confused with the American remake from ABC that is half-way through its first season Stateside.

And while promoting the show, co-creator Ashley Pharoah and star Gene Hunt himself, aka actor Philip Glenister, dropped a few hints about the future and the mythology of both the BBC and ABC versions of the franchise. 

While Life On Mars, which ran for two seasons on BBC1, shifted current-day cop Sam Tyler (John Simm) to 1973 Manchester, where he finds himself teamed up with politically incorrect old-school “beat a confession out of them” Gene Hunt, Ashes To Ashes finds another current -day cop time shifted and teamed up with the Gene-Genie.

This time, however, the displaced officer is a woman – police psychologist Alex Drake (played by Keeley Hawes) – who had been studying the Sam Tyler case – and the location is 1981 London.

With the second season of Ashes To Ashes set to begin on BBC1 in March, BBC America will start airing the first season on Saturday, March 7.

It’s already been well recorded that while the US version of Life On Mars is following the storyline of the BBC original very closely, the ultimate pay-off to the show, the explanation for what is happening to Sam Tyler, will be very different from the ending to the BBC Life On Mars.

But Pharoah teased us with a little more information of what the future holds for the two versions of the show:

He said (regarding the BBC series): “Right from the start, we knew how we wanted to end it when finally the whole franchise comes to an end.

“We’ve got a terrific ending, I think. Very different from the American Life on Mars. We swapped endings drunk in a Manhattan bar, so I know theirs, and they know mine.”

Asked whether there may be another sequel, with someone else transplanted in time, when Ashes To Ashes ends, Pharoah said: “Never say never but I really would be amazed.

“[Season two of Ashes] is about to go out in March [on BBC1], and if that does well enough to give us a next [season], two Life on Mars and three Ashes would be a five-year journey. It’s been a wonderful journey, [but] I think we would probably say thank you very much and bow out.”

Whether the US version of Life On Mars will continue in the 70s or spin off into its own version of Ashes To Ashes remains to be seen and will no doubt depend heavily on the ratings when the show returns from its mid-season break on January 28, after it was moved to Wednesday night to partnet up with ABC’s other time-shift fantasy, Lost.

You can read SciFi Wire’s full report of the Q&A with Pharoah and Glenister here.

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The Show WILL Go On…

So far, we’ve looked at the TV shows that have already been cancelled this season and the ones with their future hanging in the balance.

So to round off our mid-season round-up, here’s some better news for the new year, as we take a look at the TV shows that have a brighter future (at least for now).

Mad Men (AMC): Possibly the finest TV show currently in production, this character-led drama about advertising executives in early-60s new York simply oozes quality. Series creator and main writer Matthew Weiner has said that the show will run for five seasons (network permitting) and cover 10 years in the lives of the characters.

Season two ended its run earlier this year, with ratings that grew from season one (almost doubled, in fact). AMC have ordered a third season – however Weiner reportedly has been playing hardball, looking for a pay rise to reflect the critical and ratings success of the show, and whether he will still be in charge when it returns is somewhat unclear.

Dexter (Showtime): Superior drama, with a vein of dark humour running through it, starring Six Feet Under’s Michael C Hall as a serial killer who works a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department. Season three recently ended its run and the network has committed to at least two further seasons, of 12 episodes each.

Caprica (SciFi): This prequel to the highly acclaimed Battlestar Galactica re-imagining was in development hell for a long time and looked doomed but the SciFi network in the US has finally given the green light to the show after a pilot episode was made. It’s unlikely to hit our screens until 2010, however.

Billed as more of a family drama than a space opera, Caprica is set 51 years before the Cylon attack that kicked off the Battlestar Galactica story and tells the story of two families (one of them led by the father of future BSG commander William Adama and grandfather 0f Apollo) and their role in the creation of the Cylons.

Survivors (BBC): The remake/re-imagining of the classic 1970s British show – created by Terry Nation (the man who created Blake’s 7– The Cathode Ray Choob’s all-time favourite TV show – and Doctor Who‘s deadliest foes, the Daleks) – about the survivors of a plague that wipes out 99.9% of the human race has been renewed for a second 6-part season.

Burn Notice (USA): This Miami-set tongue-in-cheek drama, about a spy inexplicably cast adrift by his bosses and left to fend for himself, has earned a 16-episode third-season order from the USA network.

Fringe (Fox): The new show from Lost/Alias’s JJ Abrams, about an FBI agent who teams up with a brilliant but mentally unstable and amoral scientist and his estranged son to investigate crimes involving cutting-edge fringe science (concepts that blur the boundary between science fact and science fiction,such as telepathy, levitation, reanimation, genetic mutation), which seem to be part of a wider global conspiracy.

Solid, if unremarkable, viewing figures ensured that the show was picked up for a full 22-episode season order early on in its run.

Sanctuary (SciFi): Endearingly old-fashioned storytelling and cost-cutting use of green-screen technologyto digitally create the locations are the trademarks of this show, which began life as a series of webisodes broadcast over the internet before being picked up by the American SciFi TV network.

Stargate SG1’s Amanda Tapping stars as the enigmatic, long-lived English doctor Helen Magnus, who is in charge of the titular sanctuary that seeks out monsters, freaks and other “abnormals” (some human, some not) to either aid or imprison them depending on how hostile or dangerous they are.

It’s not a flashy or very sophisticated (in terms of writing) show – in many ways it harks back to simpler times when story-telling on TV did not have to be so cynical – but it’s hard to dislike and Tapping’s character makes for a enthralling lead.

SciFi were happy enough with it to order a second 13-episode season.

Life On Mars (ABC): US remake of the acclaimed BBC original about a present day police officer who has an accident and wakes up in the 1970s. After a dismal pilot version (filmed in Los Angeles and set in Chicago), a radical overhaul saw most of the cast replaced (with Harvey Keitel replacing Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli brought in) and the action (and filming) switched to New York.

The new pilot was a huge improvement. The ongoing series has closely closely followed the plots and story arc of the UK version but with hints that the underlying mythology (and the explanation for Sam Tyler’s time-shift) may be very different to what was ultimately revealed in the BBC show.

The initial 13-episode order has been increased by four and when the show returns from the festive break, it will move from Thursday nights to Wednesdays, paired up with the reinvigorated Lost, which network chiefs at ABC hopes will help boost Life On Mars’ mediocre ratings. If the strategy works, a second season could be on the cards.

True Blood (HBO): Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball reunited with HBO for this series, based on a series of books, about a telepathic waitress (Anna Paquin) who falls in love with a vampire (the show is set in Louisiana in contemporary America, where vampires have come out of closet and co-exist, somewhat uneasily, with humans).

Ratings were very poor to begin with but grew steadily during the 12-episode first season, and the show is now one of HBO’s biggest ratings-grabbers. A second season has been ordered.

Kath & Kim (NBC): Another US remake, this time of the superior Aussie original. It hasn’t been the total disaster you might expect if you are a fan of the Australian show. However, the harder edges of the original have been softened somewhat for the American audience and casting the relatively slim, beautiful Selma Blair as Kim does seem to miss the point of the character somewhat. In any case, ratings, though slightly mediocre, were good enough for NBC to up the order fr the season from the initial  13 episodes to a full 22. Whether the show will return for a second season remains to be seen.

Worst Week (CBS): Yet more US remake-ry, this time of the BBC comedy The Worst Week Of My Life, about an accident-prone groom-to-be. Middling ratings but CBS ordered an extra three episodes (for a total of 16) and this remains a possibility for a second season.

Sons of Anarchy (F/X): Drama about a gang of outlaw bikers, starring Hellboy‘s Ron Perlman. First season has completed its
13-episode run and a second has been ordered.

Samantha Who? (ABC): Somewhat mediocre sitcom starring former Married With Children babe Christina Applegate as a woman who gets hit by a car, loses her memory and discovers that she wasn’t a very nice person before the accident. ABC has ordered an additional seven episodes for season 2, bringing the total to 20.

Californication (Showtime): David Duchovny vehicle about a charming but troubled writer, has been renewed for a third season.

Entourage (HBO): A sixth season has been ordered.

The Mentalist (CBS): Exceptionally high viewing figures for this crime drama – about a former phony psychic who now uses his brilliant powers of observation to help the cops solve crimes – won it an early full-season pick-up and a second season looks certain.

Psych (USA): A fourth season has been ordered of this comedy drama, which is also about a fake psychic who helps the police.

Gary Unmarried (CBS): The new Jay Mohr comedy received an order for an additional seven episodes (plus two further scripts) taking it to at least 20 episodes in total.

My Boys (TBS): Comedy about a female sports writer in Chicago, and the men in her life. Nine-episode third season has been ordered.

Medium (NBC): Season five of the supernatural crime drama, starring Patricia Arquette, gets an extra six episodes, for a total of 19.

Monk (USA): The “dramedy” about an obsessive-compulsive private detective is to get an eighth and final season.

Privileged (CW): Drama about a wannabe journalist who ends up as a tutor for spoilt rich kids. The CW network ordered an extra 5 episodes, bringing season one up to 18 in all.

90210 (CW): The updated follow-up to 90s teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210 has been a big ratings hit for the CW network, who ordered a full 22-episode season after only three episodes had aired.


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