Past, future and change.
Contemporary analysis of evolving media scapes.

Title chapter: Back From the Future: Shifting Time-Planes in Life on Mars
Author: Richard Kilborn
Keywords: TV drama, serialisation, crime drama, police procedural, time travel, sci fi, The Sweeney
Abstract: The British TV drama series Life on Mars, quickly acquired cult-viewing status when it first aired in 2006. Combining certain sci-fi qualities with those of a standard police drama series, Life on Mars tells the story of a Manchester detective, Sam Tyler, who – having been hit by a car in 2006 – finds himself mysteriously transplanted back to the year 1973. Here he confronts a remarkably different world to the one he had previously inhabited. For those in TV audience with longer memories, this world bears an uncanny resemblance to the one epitomised by the fast-moving, action-packed crime series The Sweeney (ITV 1975-8). Life on Mars displays considerable narrative sophistication, especially in the way in which it subtly juxtaposes the two domains that now form part of Tyler’s world. Despite being temporarily detained in an earlier time period, Tyler is constantly subject to strange visitations from, and reminders of the latter-day ‘modern’ world from which he has been mysteriously displaced. Various narrative devices are used to evoke the moments where the two time-planes mesh and where even states of conscious and unconscious being appear to be interwoven. In the final analysis, however, much of the drama’s success is, arguably, attributable to the way in which these memory-traumas or coma-induced imaginings are worked into the more familiar police-procedural narrative.
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