Presentation on theme: "Cult Television ENGL 6650/7650: Special Topics in Popular Culture Cult Television Spring 2011 Room: PH 308 Day/Time: Tuesday, 600-900 pm."— Presentation transcript:
Cult Television ENGL 6650/7650: Special Topics in Popular Culture Cult Television Spring 2011 Room: PH 308 Day/Time: Tuesday, 600-900 pm
Cult Television 3/29/10 | Week 10 Cult TV Series of the Week: Life on Mars Required Reading: Nelson, ECTVR 142; Lavery, “The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America”; Angelina Karpovich and David Lavery, Life on Mars Symposium: A Report (RCD). Special Topics/Readings: Playing Hard to 'Get'—How to Write Cult TV—Espenson (TCTVB 45)
Gangster Film Get Carter (Mike Hodges, 1971) Important British Gangster Films
Cult Television Ray Carling, Chris Skelton, Annie Cartwright, Gene Hunt, Sam Tyler
Cult Television Ray Carling, Unknown Copper, Chris Shelton, Gene Hunt
Cult Television Sam Tyler, Gene Hunt, Annie Cartwright
Cult Television Chris Skelton, Gene Hunt, Sam Tyler, Ray Shelton, Annie Cartwright
Cult Television We were part of what felt like a very special show, a different show, kinda mad, a bit ground- breaking, a bit different, a bit science fiction, a gritty drama, you know, something different. —Philip Glenister, “The Return of Life on Mars,” Disc 1, Season Two DVDs (Life on Mars UK)
Cult Television S. J. Clarkson, Life on Mars’ go-to director and director of the finale The Life on Mars Finale Trailer for Season 2 Trailer for Season 2 10 April 2007 Only the 16 th Episode Not falling prey to Lostness (show clip from “The End of Life on Mars”) The controversy Ashes to Ashes
Cult Television From a Review on IMDB "The past is another country," as I think L P Hartley put it, "they do things differently there." And in the end the past turns off the television, which is us. Of course it is unrealistic, it always was.I don't know what the writers' intention was, but "Life on Mars" emerges as a mirror on our world, letting us see the present from the past, and the past from the present, comparing the moralities of then and now without judgement.But that is far from all, so many aspects have emerged that it would take a thesis to do them justice. "Salvation" perhaps is one. Is Sam to be saved? What does he have to do, make what sacrifice, perform what ritual? And in the end is it salvation or damnation he is being offered? Up until well into the last episode I was seeing Frank Morgan as the saviour-surgeon, but the mask began to slip. Then comes the bright light. Is this the light of day, or is it that light often reported by people who have had near death experiences? Sam emerges into a joyless future, only Frank Morgan seems happy, smug even. Sam's mum is strangely subdued, "You always keep your promises," she says.
Cult Television The wrongness of it all weighs on Sam, and when, in a dreary and pointless meeting, he cuts his finger and feels nothing, the words of Nelson the barman come back to him - if you feel, then you are alive. Sam now recognises that the "home" he has been taken to is the "home" of the grave, the prior visit to the graveyard is no coincidence. Sam chooses life, by dying in the land of the dead. There are many hidden gems in this series, many threads to the tapestry. It is in the end a fantasy, in which not much makes sense. But unlike so many tightly logical police procedurals, it provides food for the soul. I loved it.--Andrew Goss (Australia)
Life on Mars (UK) Ep #Life on Mars (US) Season 1: Episode 11“Out Here in the Fields” Episode 22“The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler” Episode 33“My Maharishi is Bigger Than Your Maharishi” Episode 44“Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow” Episode 55“Things to Do in New York When You’re Dead” Episode 66“Tuesday’s Dead” Episode 77“The Man Who Sold the World” Episode 88“Take a Look at the Lawmen” Season 2: Episode 99“The Darkside of the Mook” Episode 1010“Let All the Children Boogie” Episode 1111“Home is Where You Hang Your Holster” Episode 1212“The Simple Secret of The Note in Us All” Episode 1313“Revenge of Broken Jaw” Episode 1414“Coffee, Tea, or Annie” Episode 1515“All the Young Dudes” Episode 1616“Everyone Knows It’s Windy” 17“Life is a Rock”
Cult Television Gene Hunt & Sam Tyler (US) | Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt (UK)
Cult Television Annie Cartwright and Ray Carling (UK on left; US on right)
Cult Television Detective Chris Skelton (UK [L] and US [R])
Cult Television In the BBC version he was always in a coma and you pretty much knew that from [the beginning] and that was sort of, the audience could be playing around with different theories, [but] it was relatively clear that that's what it was. They were doing 16 episodes, that's what it was. Our mythology is completely different with the kind blessing of the BBC people. They encouraged us to change the mythology. It's great for episodes, it's not so great for 116 episodes—that the whole thing is a dream sequence. —Josh Applebaum (Sullivan, 2008, Part 2)
Cult Television Writing in Variety early in the Obama era, Brian Lowry (2009) wondered if the time is not ripe for “change” to come to TV as well. He presents a convincing case for why American small screen programming should abandon, once and for all, the 100 episode paradigm, an increasingly out-of-date model for series longevity tied to the promise of syndication after a show has ended. Television revenue streams like DVD sales and international distribution, Lowry notes, can be lucrative with significantly fewer episodes per year (and indeed, audiences abroad—in the UK for instance—are already accustomed to shorter series). Lavery, David. “The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America” (in Life on Mars to Ashes to Ashes, ed. Steve Lacey and Ruth McElroy, forthcoming from the University of Wales Press).
Cult Television More importantly, “producing a smaller number of episodes could be an act of creative self-preservation,” for the complexities of the average narratologically ambitious television series these days, “22 episodes a year [the American television series standard since the last century] has often become a bridge too far.” Alternative models— from British television and premium channels like HBO and Showtime—are available, after all, and they are likely to appeal to everyone involved, networks, fans, and “creatives.” Lowry quotes Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof: "Creatives will definitely forgo richer deals in the spirit of [producing] fewer episodes and gaining more creative latitude.” As Lindelof admitted in a National Public Radio interview, "tap dancing”—running in place in order to prolong a narrative of indefinite length—can be fun to watch, but not for long (“ABC’s Lost TV Drama,” 2007). Lavery, David. “The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America” (in Life on Mars to Ashes to Ashes, ed. Steve Lacey and Ruth McElroy, forthcoming from the University of Wales Press).
Cult Television Not surprisingly, Life on Mars springs to mind as a test case of the dilemma Lowry identifies: “Despite a promising start, the U.S. reboot could be hard-pressed to sustain the mystery before viewers grow itchy.” Whatever the good intentions of Appelbaum and Life on Mars USA’s creatives, the series would appear to be hoofing bigtime. In yet another irony, ABC’s retro-in-subject-matter reincarnation may have been doomed from the start because it arrived at the end of an era. It seems unlikely anyone will remember Life on Mars USA in a fashion similar to Glenister’s description of the experience of being on the original as “kinda mad, a bit ground-breaking, a bit different, a bit science fiction, a gritty drama, you know, something different” (see the epigraph). Life on Mars USA only succeeded in offering us “the same kind of different” (Lavery, 1994, 13-14). Lavery, David. “The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America” (in Life on Mars to Ashes to Ashes, ed. Steve Lacey and Ruth McElroy, forthcoming from the University of Wales Press).
Cult Television When ABC cancelled Life on Mars,... the only suspense left was the question of how Appelbaum and company would resolve the mystery of Sam Tyler. Alas, “Life is a Rock” (1.17) may well go down as one of the worst series finales of all time. In its last five minutes we learn that Sam has in fact been an astronaut in suspended animation on a mission to Mars in 2035 (the "creative team" having taken the title a bit too literally) during which he has been fed a Philip K. Dickian neural stimulation program that had him dreaming he was a 1970s cop (after something has gone haywire with the 2008 cop program). His crewmates are, of course, Ray, Chris, and Annie. Windy—his hippie neighbor in the series—was, in reality, the spaceship’s computer. ("And you were there, and you, and you!") The mission they are on is research into DNA—a "gene hunt" so to speak—and the Keitel Gene Hunt turns out to be... Sam’s father, aka "Major Tom!" Now awake as they approach Mars, “Tom” and Sam, father and son, decide they don't want to fight any more. Lavery, David. “The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America” (in Life on Mars to Ashes to Ashes, ed. Steve Lacey and Ruth McElroy, forthcoming from the University of Wales Press). Watch the final minutes of LoMUSA.