Parent Issues: How Life on Mars Negotiates a Television Generation Gap

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In defining what he termed 'Television's Second Golden Age', Robert J.Thompson refers to characteristics such as being 'not regular TV', internal continuity, mixed genres but an aspiration towards 'realism', complex writing, self-consciousness and intertextuality. Such characteristics are displayed by the BBC series Life on Mars (2006-2007) which intermingles the Seventies tough cop show with psychological fantasy. This chapter examines the way that the series can be understood as a dramatisation of the negotiation that the creators undertook with their Seventies source material to update it for the values and qualities of contemporary television drama. It will emphasise the importance of television in the generation of the imagined 1973 and its characters, but also as an ongoing connection between the real and the imagined within the programme, including forming a breach of the boundaries between the two. Sam's actions within his Seventies world to remake it to include his own ideas of justice and due process while retaining the passion and freedom of action that the milieu provides will also be be examined in relation to the series' creators' needs to remake the Seventies tough-cop show in the light of modern social and media mores. The paper will also consider how Sam has to come to terms with his father's crimes, as the series' creators had to come to terms with the 'crimes' of taste, morality and approach of their 'parent' programmes from the Seventies' Golden Age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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