Please forgive me for yet another moment of navel-gazing. October 9th fell on a Thursday last year, as is wont to happen every 7 years. I was unemployed for the first time, although this was not due to the recession or anything like that. I had actually been coasting along on terminal leave in the army until October 1. October 9th was one week into a whole new world for me: no army, no job, no longer living in Shitsville, Oklahoma. And nothing but time.
I made more while I was unemployed than I did at my first job out of the gate, so I can't say that it was really to my benefit financially to get a job. I would have had to have gotten one eventually, although, in reality, the length of unemployment would have been extended to 18 months during the six months I could have been unemployed for, so I could still be coasting today. So honestly, money was not a motivation for me to get a job. I did need a job to get a house, so that was one motivation. But my main motivation at that point was loss of purpose.
It's strange to go from a job where you're called a hero on the news by both parties every day to sitting around drinking lukewarm blackberry brandy straight from the bottle. For the longest time I had all my energy and thoughts dedicated totally towards getting out of the army. When it finally came I realized I didn't have anything else to devote myself to.
Anyway, fast forward back to October 9, 2008. I watched a lot of TV in those days. I mean, A LOT. I was watching Grey's Anatomy with my wife that night and planned to go play with the computer or whatever else I might do at that time of night. ABC was clever, though, because there was no commercial break between the preview for the next week's Grey's Anatomy and the next show.
The next show was Life on Mars.
I had, of course, seen a few commercials for this show, and felt absolutely no desire to watch it. I had come across the Wikipedia article on the old British series, and found it interesting, but not compelling enough to seek it out and watch it.
The first few minutes was kind of standard, boilerplate detective fare like any other Law and Order or CSI clone. (In retrospect, that was no doubt the point of the first five minutes.) Then David Bowie started playing on the soundtrack and my interest stirred. Then the "big event" that all the commercials had touted occurred - Sam Tyler went back int time to 1973. And things were oddly off. A policeman has no idea what a cell phone or a jeep is, because, of course, at that time there was no such thing as a cell phone and a jeep was a military vehicle. Ho-hum. High concept, but is there anything underneath the surface?
Then Sam looks out at the skyline of New York City and the World Trade Centers are standing there in all it's magnificent glory.
Immediately I was amazed. For any modern American it instantly linked the past and the present. And, sorry, Great Britain, but in the first five minutes this had proven itself to be a fundamentally American show and not just a knockoff. Here was a show willing to take risks, explore strange new places. Places that had rarely been seen in cable or film, let alone network TV.
C'est la vie.
Here we are a year later, and my life is completely different, for what it's worth. Sam is, well, he's on Mars in the year 2035 as it turns out. And you're here reminiscing with me. And I'm switching between second person and first. But that's fine. Everything's fine.
Remembering Life on Mars one last time, and what it's meant to me, and recommending that if you haven't seen it, go buy the DVD and treat yourself. And raise a glass to Sam and Annie and everybody else, wherever they are. Blow up the fucking moon, guys.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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