Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekly Roundup: You look like a star but you're still on the dole (Life on Mars)

Two episodes in and the results for the US remake of Life on Mars is mixed at best, with the loudest cries of 'foul' from fans of the original BBC series. But I'd like to remind folks of a little show called The Office that faced a similar outcry when it started. Like LoM, that series stuck pretty close to the original material to start out, and endured endless comparisons to Gervaise's brilliant original incarnation. If the series survives long enough to get it's own footing, it has potential to be pretty brilliant, but for now, it's going to be saddled with comparisons -- specifically, the Gene/Sam relationship, which was pretty special in the original.

As far as the soundtrack, so far the US version is doing pretty well in the comparison department. Take the song used twice during chase scenes, Mott the Hoople's "All the Way From Memphis." The song is about a rock star's guitar getting sent to Kentucky, and he's stuck in Memphis trying to track it down. "You look like a star but you're still on the dole," and that's Sam -- a 21st century man stuck in a 70's cop show. Compare that to the original version, which used McCartney's "Live and Let Die" (video of scene). Sure, it's a better song to be sure, but the tone and content is a mismatch to the scene. Meanwhile, the Gilbert O'Sullivan's silly "Get Down," a song about dominance, underscores the wrestling scene between Gene and Sam (a scene that illustrates the size constraints of Keitel's portrayal of Gene -- shouldn't O'Mara's Sam be able to easily kick that 69-year old diminutive's ass?) Finally, in what might be the strangest choice of dance music, Simon & Garfunkel's "I'm a Rock" ends the episode. It's an interesting choice, not just for it's lack of bpm, but also for it's echo of emotional detachment and isolation, something close to Sam's lonely blue heart.

Playlist: Life on Mars - Episode 1.02
1. "All the Way From Memphis" - Mott the Hoople
2. "Get Down" - Gilbert O'Sullivan
3. "Life on Mars?" - David Bowie
4. "I am a Rock" - Simon & Garfunkel

True Blood - Episode 1.06 (playlist)
This episode deals with loss, and thus takes on a much more somber tone in music. It also deals with a certain heroin losing her virginity a vampire (giving new meaning to the term double penetration). More importantly, though, actress Anna Paquin shows nudity for the first time, to the tune of Cat Power's "Half of You" (hint, it's the top half).
More thoughts and full tracklisting

Chuck - Episode 2.03 (playlist)
The Bryce character has been a nice tool for the show to use whenever Chuck and Sarah get too close. His presence leads to a little breakup, backed touchingly by Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Before that, Chuck and Sarah betrayed their romantic feelings to us with The National's "Fake Empire" as a love theme. Meanwhile, no Huey Lewis this week?
More thoughts and full tracklisting

Skins - Episode 2.01 (playlist)
Skins started their second season with a musical fakeout, using church organs to suggest that Tony might have died in last week's finale. Instead, it's the start to some non-stop Maxxie dancing. And then his dad (played by UK comedian Bill Bailey) dances with his dog. And then everybody dances to Posh Kenneth, throwing down some choice rhymes at a party. Everybody's dancing but Tony :(
More thoughts and full tracklisting

Gossip Girl - Episode 2.06 (playlist)
Blair has a My Fair Lady dream, and somehow sees herself as Eliza Doolittle ("The Rain in Spain"). Now that's some imagination. The gang is thinking college, and to keep it convenient for logistics next season, everyone has Yale on their list. College trip! Only they don't go anywhere, as the whole thing is shot at Columbia. We're treated to cliches like a Skull & Bones secret initiation, an unbelievable Dean of admissions, mistaken identity and, of course, a cat fight. Ah, our little GG's are growing up!
Full tracklisting

Life - Episode 2.04 (playlist)
Charlie's back in prison! Well, a fake social experimental simulation on the campus of some college. As Charlie surveys the prison environment with a wary eye, The Beta Band's "Squares" plays, reminding us of the square prison cell he once faced. Also of note, 90's stalwarts Afghan Whigs get a shout out in the episode thanks to actor Donal Logue being a drinking buddy of frontman Greg Dulli.
Full tracklisting

More: Bob Dylan gets his first historical reference on Mad Men references in an episode which later uses Johnny Mathis to underscore the difficulties of coming out of the closet, and the gang from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia harmonize on Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday," reprising their previous out-of-left-field acapella turn with Extreme's "More Than Words" (video).


drake lelane said...

Gossip Girl - Episode 2.06
1. The Rain In Spain (from "My Fair Lady") - Rex Harrison
2. The Wake Up Song - The Submarines
3. White Diamonds - Friendly Fires
4. Wooden Heart - The Duke Spirit
5. Time Is Running Out - The Section Quartet

drake lelane said...

Life - Episode 2.04
1. Squares - The Beta Band
2. I Shall Be Free - Kid Beyond
3. I Got It ( What You Need) - Galactic