Thursday, March 26, 2009

LIfe on Mars: There's No Place Like Home

There's only one episode left now, and plenty more questions have been raised about how the US version of Life on Mars will explain Sam's jump to 1973. I understand they've come up with a different explanation than the original BBC version, but if it really involves miniature robots that crawl into your head, I'm going to metaphorically jump off that roof in place of Sam.

"Everyone Knows it's Windy" started out promising enough, revisiting last week's surprise ending that left Chris and Ray seemingly left for dead, fresh with bullet holes left by McManus (Peter "Dokey" or "Zed" Greene). Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" plays in the background, giving the scene a tripped-out sort of levity, mixing the potential death of Chris with more "Spaceman" references. "Satellite's gone, way up to Mars..." goes Reed, which doesn't really click until later, when we get to Aries toy company party (backed by The Raspberries "Go All the Way,") and see the Red Rover toys that have been haunting Sam all along. Here they're both big (product) and miniaturized (in the drinks being served -- by Scott Adsit, Pete from 30 Rock, no less). More hallucinations, like Windy? Or is she a hallucination? Here, I thought the whole 1973 world that Sam inhabits was a hallucination, which makes it all the more frustrating, right?

The Wire's Peter Gerety plays Agent Frank Morgan, a name that's significan in that it's the name of the actor who played the Wizard on The Wizard Of Oz (again). So when Morgan tells Tyler, "You weren't supposed to peek behind the curtain," we're getting another reminder of that fact. Morgan is also the name of the character in the original BBC series who is the catalyst for Sam returning to the present in the second season (again meant to be a Wizard reference. So when Morgan has Tyler on the roof beckoning him to jump, "It's time to go home, Sam," it's meant as a nod to the BBC's ending, which I won't spoil for you. Needless to say, here we get a bit of a switcheroo, with Annie talking down Sam, and Morgan being carted off for murder and a myriad of other offenses.

How much of it that was real of what Morgan told Sam is questionable, but with his obsession with Angie Dickenson in Police Woman paired with the fact that the show didn't start airing until a year later makes me think that Morgan knows more than what he read in Sam's psyche file. Between that and the 1979 Cheap Trick reference ("We're The Dream Police, we live inside your head," Morgan could be from Sam's world as well... like the Wizard to Dorothy. Come to think of it, Ray is like the cowardly lion (scared of the changing times,) Chris is the dimwitted scarecrow and Gene is the Tin Man, just looking for his heart. Of course, the Wizard is a sham, when all we need is to do is click our heels, dim the lights and put on some Dark Side of the Moon. There's no place like home, there's no place like home...

Playlist: Life on Mars - Episode 1.16
1. "Satellite of Love" - Lou Reed
2. "Go All the Way" - The Raspberries
3. "Windy" - The Association

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