U.S. Life On Mars Is Just As Skeezy With Dad As With Mom

Time-traveling cop Sam Tyler tries to bond with his dad, and it gets mistaken (understandably) for homoeroticism, in this clip from last night's Life On Mars. You have to hand it to the American remake of Mars: first, when it remade the Sam-meets-his-mom episode, it came out and brought up the Oedipal thing. And now, in a somewhat faithful remake of the Sam-meets-his-dad episode, we get the gay thing. In general, last night's episode was less subtle than the original, in some good ways and one bad way. In general, most of the changes from the British version clean up the story a bit and remove ambiguity. As you can see from the clip, the Pignatos are built up to be a much bigger deal — and then we're told in no uncertain terms that there are no Pignatos, there's just Sam's dad, freelancing. There are a lot less scenes of Sam bonding with his dad and being goofy, and Sam acts a bit more like a professional police officer throughout. Instead of just sort of intuiting that his dad is a scumbag, he actually starts to remember stuff from his childhood which confirms it. (In the British version, he acts shockingly unprofessional at many points after meeting his dad.) The kidnapped baby feels a bit more urgent than just "someone is making crappy porn." The one big change from the British version that wasn't for the best was the much-reduced role for Gene Hunt. Gene and Sam butt heads — understandably — over Sam's dad's involvement in the dirty business in the British version, and it adds a bit more drama and realism to the whole affair. In the U.S. version, Gene is mostly AWOL. Which makes me wonder: first Harvey Keitel seems bored by his role as Gene Hunt, and now he's barely even showing up. Is Harvey bowing out already? Or just needing a less intensive schedule?


Liz Weinbl

Did it include the bit where Sam and his dad play football? Because that totally made me cry in the British.

(also, how are they up to this episode already? what are they gonna do for the rest of the season?)