Life on Mars (2006) s02e07

S.J. Clarkson directs this episode so it always looks good and moves well. The script’s from first “Mars”-timer Mark Greig, who turns in a fairly decent “is the guv a killer” episode. Philip Glenister’s been charged with murder and the evidence is against him; with replacement DCI Ralph Brown in to oversee the case, John Simm feels the pressure to put Glenister away.

Only if Glenister did it, there wouldn’t be an episode, so Simm is out to prove his innocence, even as the rest of the team falls away. It’s good though, because when there’s a lengthy chase sequence of Glenister and Simm outwitting Dean Andrews and Marshall Lancaster, the episode’s easily at its best. Having Glenister forced to spend an episode with Simm and rely upon him… there’s a lot of good bicker banter. Plus the investigation scenes make more senes when it’s Glenister and Simm; they’re actually able to talk it out, giving “Mars” its first crime scene investigation since the beginning of the season. Simm and Glenister are excellent actors and this episode gets to showcase their ability more than most have been lately.

The frame-up involves a fight promoter, Seamus O’Neill, who Glenister testifies against in court. Glenister gets blasted afterwards and goes harassing O’Neill, with Simm as a witness, including brandishing a firearm. So apparently Glenister checked out a pistol for court duty. Okay.

After leaving a drunken Glenister to roam the streets of Manchester, Simm goes home and passes out, leading to a dream sequence, in which he gets an ominous call about being asked for help and to provide it. So who’s calling for help when the phone wakes Simm up? Glenister over O’Neill’s dead body, his gun on the scene.

The coppers arrive and take Glenister in and then Simm meets Brown, who’s from the same police station (“Hyde”) where Simm is supposedly from but they don’t know each other. They do have some similar detecting techniques, which Lancaster in particular notices. This first act of the episode is about the only time there’s anything for Liz White to do, because once Simm teams up with Glenister, there’s no time for girls. Not when Simm has also got to keep Brown at bay.

The resolution requires Simm and Glenister to be particularly bad coppers—they did a silly bad job on the initial case with O’Neill, which we all discover together in one of the suspect interviews—but it’s mostly forgivable. There’s a solid ending, right up until we find out this episode answers a question brewing and usually forgotten since the first episode of the season—who’s calling Simm from a Hyde number?

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