Madison Avenue
Bradford, England BD4 9RY

This is the next study evening in a series of culture studies where something from the media (e.g. a book, a film, a music album) is discussed from a Christian perspective but the evening is for people of all faiths and people of no faith at all who want to explore the message behind the media.

An episode will be shown on the big screen at 6pm followed by discussion at 7:15pm.

There is no charge for this event.

The following two sections taken from the Damaris study guide.

About the TV Series
When production company Kudos asked Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah to spend a weekend in Blackpool coming up with ideas for a new returning drama series, the writers quickly came to two conclusions. First of all, that they were all sick and tired of police shows; and secondly that they thought the BBC would quite like another police show. The rest of their discussion was spent trying to square the circle by coming up with the kind of police show that they might actually watch themselves. The Sweeney (ITV, 1975-78) soon emerged as a common favourite, and they decided to try to recreate something of that show's appeal.

The concept of a modern policeman transported to the very different world of the 1970s was quickly established, although the initial plans were for a very different feel. Graham comments, 'originally the show was entitled Ford Granada but it always featured Sam falling back from the present day. The early versions were much lighter in tone with no Test Card Girl and no talking tellies. Over the years it got a lot more twisted and complex with numerous alternatives springing up for why and how Sam has found himself in 1973.' ( )

As well as TV cop shows, the show's creators have acknowledged the influence of films such as Get Carter or All The President's Men on the visual style of Life On Mars. Thematically, the genre of Western movies is also significant, with Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) - Sam's new boss in 1973 - explicitly linked (by himself and several other characters) with the figure of a Sheriff in a lawless, frontier town: a good man who has to do bad things to preserve law and order for the townspeople. The show takes its title from the song 'Life On Mars' from David Bowie's 1971 LP Hunky Dory. Sam is listening to this song on his car stereo immediately before his accident, and the use of popular music from the 1970s plays an important role in creating the atmosphere of the show.

The relationship between Sam and Gene anchors the show. Each episode, to a greater or lesser extent, features a culture clash between the two. Sam's methodical, evidence-based case building contrasts with his superior's less scientific reliance on his instincts (ably supported by intimidation, violence and, when necessary, stitching up a suspect).

As well as demonstrating the far-reaching changes in both popular culture and the culture of law enforcement over the last thirty years, the show also reflects on wide-ranging social issues. Individual episodes touch on subjects such as police corruption, industrial decline and football violence. But this isn't to say that Life On Mars is simply a lesson in history and sociology. Each episode plays to traditional dramatic strengths of well-drawn characters in a good story told in a compelling manner. There is much humour drawn from the vast gulf between Sam's worldview and those of his new colleagues. The character of Gene is a particularly rich source of comedy, with Philip Glenister taking what could have been a two dimensional amalgam of clich├ęs and creating a complex, fully rounded character with surprising depth.

Each episode also throws up parallels with Sam's 2006 life, adding to the central question of whether he really has been transported back to 1973, or whether his subconscious has constructed everything that he is experiencing. Sam's family appear in more than one episode, and his superior officer's full name (Gene Hunt) is suitably laden with double meaning to provide, perhaps, a clue as to the nature of Sam's purpose in 1973.
In November 2006, Life On Mars won the title of Best Drama Show at the International Emmy Awards, and David E. Kelley (the creator of Ally McBeal) is producing an American version of the show for the ABC network. In October 2006, the BBC announced that a second series of Life On Mars, due to be broadcast in early 2007, will be the final series and will finally resolve the issue of what is happening to Sam.

Life On Mars is high-concept television. Modern-day detective Sam Tyler (John Simm) is knocked down by a car, and wakes up to discover that he is somehow now living in 1973. Has he really gone back in time? Is he comatose in a hospital bed in 2006, with his subconscious playing tricks on him? Or is he, to borrow another David Bowie song title, just a lad insane? Over the course of eight episodes, Sam tries to resolve his existential dilemma while also applying twenty-first century policing to the less structured world of a previous era. Regardless of whether his problem is a temporal or a subconscious one, Sam sets about trying to find out why he is trapped in 1973, and what he has to do to get back to his normal life.

The show never reveals whether we are watching Sam's reality, or merely the subconscious creation of his own mind. John Simm as Sam features in every single scene, leaving open the interpretation that his world is in fact a construct of his own mind.

Previous Study Evenings
This series continues to be popular. Previous evenings have looked at "Arthur and George" (book), "Moulin Rouge" (film), the Robbie Williams album "Intensive Care", "Lost in Translation" (film), "Whale Rider" (film), "The Incredibles" (film), "The Da Vinci Code" (book), the U2 album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" and "Chocolat" (film).

Added by srjf on March 31, 2007