We just watched the second episode of Life on Mars, and it’s a pretty intriguing series so far, with a caveat I’ll get to in a moment. If you haven’t heard, the premise is that a cop is hit by a car and goes into a coma, from which he emerges in 1973. It’s not quite as simple as that, though, because we’re never quite certain if 1) he’s really been transported to 1973, or 2) he’s imagining it all from his coma in his hospital bed. The recreation of 1973 is subtly funny, and the main characters are enjoyable.
BBC America has a habit of editing down BBC series when they show them. When I’ve been aware of this in the past, I’ve simply ignored the programs. But I didn’t realize this was the case with Life on Mars, and now I’ve seen two (chopped up) episodes and I’m hooked. Comcast is showing the episodes On Demand, and that will help … apparently, a rough estimate is that the telecast version is about 42 minutes with commercials, the On Demand version is about 52 minutes, and the originals are 58 minutes. So we’re losing something, but On Demand would appear to be the way to go.
Meanwhile, The Comeback with Lisa Kudrow is now available on DVD. I can’t say anything about this show without repeating myself … I went looking for earlier posts on the subject, and they were all the same. So I’ll say it one more time. Kudrow is brilliant in the show, playing the kind of self-absorbed character, like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm or Ricky Gervais/Steve Carell in The Office, that is funny, but not as funny as it should be thanks to the fact that the character’s actions are excruciating and embarrassing to watch. Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish is the most unsettling of all these characters, so much so that the show is often very hard to watch (no surprise that it only lasted one season). That unsettled feeling is purposeful … Kudrow said in an interview:
I do believe that TV de-sensitizes us to things like violence, sex and now dignity has gone out the window. Watching a person lose their dignity used to be uncomfortable, and now it's an expected part of the program that we're becoming comfortable with. A loss of dignity can be funny if no one notices it going except the audience. When everyone can see it being taken away, or handed over as payment for fame, it's hopefully uncomfortable.
It is, in fact, very uncomfortable. Many similar characters, like “Larry David,” are clueless. Valerie Cherish knows what is happening to her, knows the indignities she suffers, knows that she’s part of the cause, and yet she goes on.
If the above intrigues, you, though, it’s a pretty good show.