DVD Review: British Greats ‘Wire in the Blood,’ ‘Life on Mars’

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CHICAGO – Any good reader of HollywoodChicago.com knows that we have a soft spot for modern British television. “Torchwood,” “Doctor Who,” “Primeval,” “Robin Hood,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and many more shows range from good to great. One of the best series of the ’00s is the excellent “Life on Mars,” soon-to-be available in a series 1 DVD box set and accompanied on store shelves this month by the sixth volume of the thrilling “Wire in the Blood”.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0

The spectacular “Life on Mars” was adapted into an ill-fated ABC remake last fall and I worry that American audiences will ignore the original because they see the remake as a failure (which is itself debatable). Whether or not you liked or disliked the Yank version, please check out the BBC original, a great twist on the standard police procedural.

Life on Mars will be released on DVD on July 28th, 2009.
Life on Mars will be released on DVD on July 28th, 2009.
Photo credit: Acorn Media

John Simm plays Sam Tyler, a police detective who is either dreaming, delusional, or displaced in time. After getting hit by a car, Sam wakes up in 1973. All of the modern tools of crime fighting have yet to be invented and Tyler has to adjust to working in the sexist, hard-drinking, tough crime-fighting style of a quarter-century earlier, trying to solve the biggest mystery - what the hell is happening to him. Philip Glenister is spectacular as his boss and Liz White shines as a sympathetic policewoman.

Series 1 of “Life on Mars” consists of 8 episodes on four discs. Because each disc only contains two episodes, the video and audio quality are above average. The set also includes an amazing wealth of special features, including:

Commentary on episode 1 by co-creator and writer Matthew Graham, director Bharat Nalluri, and producer Claire Parker
Commentary on episode 2 by director Bharat Nalluri and producer Claire Parker
Commentary on episode 3 by star Philip Glenister and director John McKay
Commentary on episode 4 by stars John Simm and Glenister, co-creator and writer Ashley Pharoah, director John McKay, and Parker
Commentary on episode 5 by co-creator and writer Tony Jordan, director S.J. Clarkson, and Parker
Commentary on episode 6 by Graham, Pharoah, and director John Alexander
Commentary on episode 7 by stars Dean Andrews and Marshall Lancaster, writer Chris Chibnali, director S.J. Clarkson and Parker
Commentary on episode 8 by Simm, Alexander, and Parker

Other features: “Take a Look at the Lawman,” Interview clip with director Bharat Nalluri, “The Music of Life on Mars,” “Get Sykes,” and Outtakes Reel.

“Wire in the Blood: The Complete Sixth Season”

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

“Life on Mars” is something that I think could appeal to everyone. “Wire on the Blood,” however, is a much darker experience, a series of TV films that dive deep into the ugly side of human nature. The sixth season is now available from E1 Entertainment and would make a great addition for fans of British TV or well-made thrillers.

The “season” of “Wire in the Blood” consists of what are essentially four TV films with each disc containing a single episode that runs 86 minutes. What the episodes have in common is Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green), a clinical psychologist who has a deep understanding of the criminal mind. Working with detective inspector Alex Fielding (Simone Lahbib), Hill profiles and captures murderers before they strike again.

The four episodes of season six are “Unnatural Vices,” “Falls the Shadow,” “From the Defeated,” and “The Dead Land”.

It seems a little unnecessary to spread out less than six hours of total run time on four discs and then to go a step further by not including a single special feature. That’s disappointing, but the series itself rarely fails to entertain. This is the final season of “Wire in the Blood”. I wouldn’t necessarily start with season six, but fans of the show will be happy to complete their collection of this international phenomenon.

‘Life on Mars’ will be released by Acorn Media and stars John Simm, Philip Glenister, and Liz White. The show will be released on July 28th, 2009. It is not rated.

‘Wire in the Blood: The Complete Sixth Season’ was released by E1 Entertainment and stars Robson Green and Simone Lahbib. The show was released on July 21st, 2009. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

Just a quick point re: Life

Just a quick point re: Life on Mars. Annie Cartwright is a character on the show, and she’s played by Liz White.

BrianTT's picture

Thank You

Of course she is. It has been corrected. Brian

Anonymous's picture


Thanks. Very interesting.

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