BBC America is currently airing a phenomenal new drama that deserves top billing on your TiVo's Season Pass list.
"Life on Mars" centers on a modern-day English police inspector, Sam Tyler (John Simm), who is involved in a wicked car accident (he gets creamed). Without explanation, Tyler wakes up in 1973. He knows who he is and he knows he's still a cop, but now he's a cop three decades in the past. As you can imagine, this perplexes Sam to no end.
The show's "cop out of water" concept is interesting (the '70s are marred by landlines, shoddy forensics, and absolutely no political correctness), but "Life on Mars" succeeds because the characters are dynamic. Simm is the anchor for the production, blending equal parts confusion and heroism. The scenes he shares with Philip Glenister (Gene Hunt) are layered with impressive degrees of anger, respect and humor. These two create a formidable acting duo that could succeed in any arena.
Liz White also shines as Annie Cartwright, an endearing, smart-assed love interest for Sam. The character of Annie is a kindred spirit to Willow on "Buffy" and Kaylee on "Firefly" -- she's not the lead, but she owns every scene she's in.
The eight-episode first season of "Life on Mars" concludes in mid-September, but BBC America often airs repeats. Check the schedule for upcoming broadcasts.
And just in case you're wondering, the show's title comes from the David Bowie song, which plays during Sam's accident in the pilot episode. -- Mac Slocum