Last night's episode of time-traveling cop show Life On Mars threw us a hell of a curve-ball halfway through the episode. As promised, the show introduced a wild new character who isn't in the British version. And that character pushes the show much more in the direction of being out-there science fiction. It's also the last person you'd expect to see in this otherwise gritty cop drama. Click through for spoilers. Update: I added some ratings data. It's Wall-E! OMG! The plucky trash-compacting robot from the distant future wheeled himself into 1973 in order to console the unfortunately trapped future cop Sam Tyler. And Wall-E has gained the ability to beam images of 2008 directly into Sam's eyes/brain, while playing David Bowie to him. Awww... Wall-E will come in handy when they invent the Rubik's cube, since he's already had lots of practice with those. Okay, so it wasn't really Wall-E, it was some kind of range-rover toy. But it was certainly Wall-E-esque... The other big new element last night, of course, was the blackboard scene where Sam lists all the possible explanations for why he's stuck in 1973. Besides the usual ones, possibilities included Purgatory, "drug trip," "virtual reality" and "alien abduction". Supposedly the show is going to delve into all of these possible explanations, so I really hope we get some good exploration of the VR and alien mind probe possibilities. Is it horrendously wrong that I'm still enjoying this show? Maybe because I'm not hugely attached to the original British version, or maybe because the unaired pilot really was horrible, this new version is still kind of clicking for me. Am I insane? Am I being mind-probed by aliens who want to harvest my intellect? In any case, it seems I may be on my own. Last night's episode lost 17 percent of its debut audience, falling to 8.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, the naughty-science show Eleventh Hour saw its ratings increase, to 12 million.
It's better than it has any right to be. It's not great but it continues to earn the benefit of the doubt from me.
Harvey Keitel is still the weak link though. As great as his career has been he looks, I'm sorry to say, too old and half the time comes across like he is still in rehearsals. Poor show.