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It’s all over for Sam Tyler, or is it?

Well,as you have all probably seen,it was the last episode of Life On Mars last night.I failed to see the first series but curiousity drove me to see the second series.And all I can say is that I will be hastily borrowing the first series box set off one of my mates to watch avidly.
Well,what do you all think of the last episode?As for my personal opinion,it was a very Prisoner-esque ending.Does he escape from The Village or is it all an illusion?Does Sam Tyler finally go back to the present day or is he actually residing in 1973 and the future is all a concoction of his comatose brain.There is a lot of speculation about what actually happened to Sam in the last episode but my own personal conclusion is that he experienced a ‘flash foward’ to the present day.He complained that he could not feel any sensation and had to find out the hard way by jumping off the roof of his police headquarters,confirming that he was indeed residing in 1973.

At least it ended on a happy note where he finally works out where he belongs,he gets the girl and is subject to the whim of a foul mouthed,politically incorrect superior officer.The final appearance of the Test Card Girl,for some strange reason,reminded me of the Thats All Folks segment at the end of all Warner Bros cartoon strips.
A bloody good series and it almost makes me glad to pay the licence fee.We shall just have to wait and see what happens and whether any light can be shed on what happened in ‘Ashes To Ashes…..

8 Responses to "It’s all over for Sam Tyler, or is it?"

  1. Andy Simpkins says:

    By way of a postscript, I think Tony Gallichan should be the lead role in Ashes To Ashes.Then he can truly be thrown back in time to those halcyon days of the ’80s

  2. Only if you play ‘the Nonce’…..

    hate to disillusion you, but Sam actually died. Committed suicide…that last moment of them driving off sort of lasts forever – its his last moment. And the Test Card girl is essentially Death. She switches him off….

    Purcell-Face posted a link or two on the forum..have a read – very interesting to hear what the writer had to say and also whats in store for us in Ashes To Ashes – the thought of Ray with a tight perm is already making me crease myself, LOL.

    A special ‘Farewell to Sam Tyler’ has been requested by a Mr. Saxon for my radio show tonight, so tune in…details etc at

  3. Yes, he was indeed dreaming 1973. After spending so much time in his fantasy world the real world seemed flat and lifeless to him. He just couldn’t cope with this return to reality and killed himself. In those last few moments of life, presumably as a messy puddle on the pavement, he returned to 1973 to save his imaginary friends (who were miraculously lightly injured and even more miraculously forgave him so quickly) and spent those last moments with them. We hear on the radio the paramedics trying to save him but he cuts his final tie with life by changing the radio station. As Macfadyan says, the Test Card girl’s turning off of the picture is the moment of Sam’s death.

    With that ending it is hard to see how they could do a spin-off. My original thought was that it was a straight 80s cop show featuring the real DCI Hunt that Sam must have met as a kid. Apparently not, though. It seems the 2006/7 scene showing Sam making a record of his 1973 dreams and passing them onto a police psychologist is rather more important than the coach crash comment I originally latched on to. This pyschologist will read Sam’s notes, have an accident of her own and end up in a copy of Sam’s dream, only this time set in her childhood of 1981 London. There is also the suggestion going around that Gene Hunt and co might be more than simple imaginary characters…

  4. Andy Simpkins says:

    Only if you play ‘the Nonce’…..wrote Lord Macfadyan

    Dont know what I would look like in a string vest and apair of white underpants tho.That’s the problem,the ending was so open to interpretation and as I said previously,it was a very hallucinogenic Prisoner-style conclusion.I think there are elements of all the suppositions we have drawn in what happened and to a degree,we are all correct in our conclusions.

  5. They certainly really tried to push the ‘mad in 1973’ idea in that final episode, though personally I never really doubted the coma scenario – though I feared I might have missed something vital or, worse, they would pull some nonsensical ending on us. Clearly they intended people to have different conclusions, to cause a debate. One thing they didn’t attempt to address in any way, given the mad scenario that Frank Morgan was pushing, was Sam’s knowledge of the future. That, if nothing else, points to the coma scenario. Doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation that people can come up with. The start of an idea on that front might be to point out that we didn’t actually see Sam’s experiences first person (as he clearly would) – so we didn’t see exactly what he saw. Clearly the coma explanation was the one the writers had in mind but that doesn’t make alternatives any less correct, either. Who knows, maybe they will turn it all on its head in Ashes to Ashes and leave all of us reevaluating Life on Mars! I wouldn’t be surprised!

    It’s a testament to the clever writing that people are discussing this at all – when was last time the general public were trying to figure out the meaning of a TV show? Bad Wolf, in the Eccleston months? Twin Peaks (a push to say the ‘general public’ on that one, I suspect!)?

    It will be interesting to see how the Gene ‘Genie’ makes a reappearance next year…

  6. Lord Summerisle says:

    Oh, never mind what the writers say (writers, what do they know?) and in fact if they had any real brains they’d not rush to explain everything because it removes a lot of the fun and enjoyment people get from watching something that’s open to interpretation. Lou Reed always refuses to explain what his songs mean for this very reason (and he gets very shirty with journalists and fans when they ask) because the moment he does so he robs people of the meaning THEY found in them.

    Anyway ….

    Andy’s idea that Sam might never have woken from his coma and when we see him in the 21st century towards the end of the episode it’s simply another level of the dream, occurred to me at the time too mainly because of (as Andy says) his cutting his hand and Nelson’s earlier comments about you not being alive if you’re not feeling. While having Sam in a permanent coma is a bit of a downer as endings go, I think it’s an equally valid interpretation. I never figured Sam for the suicidal type anyway. Further along those lines, MacFadyan says “the Test Card girl is essentially Death. She switches him off”. Actually no, the writers explanation is closer to Andy’s “that’s all folks” but had they kept quiet, nobody would be wrong because different people see different meanings.

    So the point remains, writers should shut the hell up and let the rest of us argue for the rest of our lives over ‘what it really meant’. Once they tell us it sucks a lot of the joy out of it.

  7. It’s probably true, we all went into the final episode with preconceived ideas. Mine was that he was in a coma in 2006 and that coloured how I interpreted the ending. There’s probably more to it than that, though. I must admit I had a great difficulty in sleeping that night, after the final episode. The scary bit was that I could understand why he jumped! That was very unsettling. I think he jumped as much out of hope as of despair. He despaired of the grey lifeless world (2006/7 was portrayed as very colourless) that we all inhabit – real life. The tedious day in, day out grind, with such little joy and excitement. That 1973 world would be so enticing by comparison. I have so little trouble understanding that it’s positively frightening! Would any of us do different in Sam’s situation. I doubt I would. As for the lack of feeling in 2006/7 (which was it?! Did they even say in the final episode?) I can understand that too. It wasn’t my thumb but I did once take a scalpel and sliced open my left forefinger down the middle, almost tip to top knuckle (I was showing off – showing a friend how blunt the knife was, except it turns out it really wasn’t!) I didn’t feel a thing, it even took me a few seconds to realise – there was no blood at first, despite it going pretty damned deep! But I digress. I suppose the point is that what I saw in that finale probably says more about me than what the writers had in mind. In this case they somewhat coincided (which says something about their lives too, I suppose!)

    As for the writers shutting up. I would normally agree. In this case, though, we have a direct sequel coming up that will necessarily have to confirm one interpretation or other for the ending of Life on Mars. A day of so after the final episode the BBC put out the press statement about Ashes to Ashes and I think both the writers and the BBC want to prime people for that. I’ll probably be wrong again but I fully expect the first scene to be set at Sam Tyler’s funeral, with this new character there to pay her respects to someone she feels she knows so well after reading his notes (probably they met for real sessions too, perhaps even John Simm will reprise the role for a few flash backs in the first episode?) Basically they need people to accept their version of events for Ashes to Ashes to work.

    As for the Test Card Girl, she may of may not be Death in Life on Mars (though a contradictory comment in the Radio Times by the writers suggest she was – they’re just messing with our heads now!) but nonetheless she surely is in real life..!

  8. yup..

    Test card Girl means something really, really heavy, right?

    It means..

    No more Tv……..

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