Loz (lozenger8) wrote,
Loz
lozenger8

Mad, in a coma, or back in time?

Life on Mars recently came top in a show about the "Greatest TV Endings".

"Amazing!" I thought.

"Yay for Life on Mars getting some recognition!" was the next comment.

I didn't realise it was out of 50. That's really quite an accomplishment.



I remember my initial reaction to the ending of Life on Mars. And even if I didn't, I still have the post as evidence. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life to date --- second to momentous events such as discovering I got a good mark in English Honours and getting a fulltime teaching job. It was amazing.

I cried for a long time. I jumped up and down. I felt.

It was only afterwards, when I thought about it --- really thought about it - that my reaction transformed. And it was only after Matthew said some really dumb things that I got particularly bitter about it.

I still have problems with it, obviously. For myriad reasons I've already discussed. (Lack of real lead-up and progression to the conclusion, lack of vital scenes, inclusion of stupid scenes.) But I still think, I still feel, that the ending to Life on Mars was amazing on so many levels. Not all of them are good. But that's what makes it art. Because I can discuss this ending ad nauseum - have done, still do. I can debate its merits and relative aspects. I can see why people love it, hate it, remember it. It's impossible to forget.

Who doesn't feel a little bit weirded out when they realise they actually just cheered for the main character's death? (But it's not death! I refuse to believe it's death!) Who doesn't wonder just how much or little Sam controls of his world? (But it isn't his world! Gene, Annie, Chris, Ray, Nelson, Phyllis, Litton, Gwen; they're all as real as Sam!) Who doesn't wonder about the cancer and why it wasn't detected before? Or use that as evidence that 2006/07 wasn't real? Or ponder Sam Williams?

It was really very brave in many ways. A complete cop-out in others. It said a lot about modern society --- in ways that I do think were probably completely unintended given what Matthew and Ashley have said about it. It was a bit of a rollercoaster, with some truly shite scenes and some truly brilliant ones --- and despite all the melodrama, a lot of understatedness that was really quite beautiful. It was shocking. Didn't make any logical sense. And unconventional. Yet still, oddly conventional, because it ended with a rainbow and a kiss. It was dark and it was funny and it was --- the only ending they could have done in the time they had, I realise this now. The only ending Matthew really wanted to do, and who am I to criticise a self-indulgent writer?

I'm still talking about this --- over a year after it aired. I still get emotional about it. It's inspired me. It's made me think. It's imperfect, but that's almost consoling in some ways, because at its best, Life on Mars was the kind of brilliance you only dream about being able to create yourself.

So. I agree. Despite and because of all of my misgivings, the copious times I've called Matt a prick and written ten page essays denouncing pissing around with rampant manipulation and condescending to the viewer. I still think it probably was the greatest television ending of all time.

Tags: life on mars
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