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The Morning After: Life on Mars Is Back, Damages Still Here

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I watched the first three episodes of Damages last month; now that we’re into the thick of midseason TV and FX has aired the fourth, I am officially behind. I’ll get to it eventually, but am throwing the thread open for anyone who wants to dissect it. 

Also last night saw the post-Lost return of Life on Mars, with an appearance by Vincent Curatola. Will the show stick around long enough to employ every former Sopranos actor? Will it form an effective time-travel block with Lost? Curiously, as much as I harp on my preference for serial dramas over procedurals, Life on Mars is one series where I’m much more interested in the procedural stories than the ongoing why-is-he-in-1973 mystery. I don’t much care whether Sam makes in back to the present, but I do like how the show makes use of the differences between now and the past.

In particular, though the show has had some fun confronting Sam with 1970s technology, I like that it focuses more on the cultural chasm between him and his colleagues. I’m thinking, for instance, of the earlier episode in which Sam was the only one able to see that a murdered vet was a closeted gay man—a twist that was pretty evident to a 2008 TV viewer, but to his fellow cops in the ’70s was an incomprehensible magical intuition akin to something out of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. “Gentlemen, I bring to you from the future the miracle of… gaydar!”