|Life on Mars - Sam Tyler (John Simm) in the centre|
Back in 2008, I blogged about my fascination with the UK TV series Life on Mars. Quick recap: The year is 2006 and the setting is Manchester where a high-ranking police officer (Sam Tyler) gets hit by a car while listening to the David Bowie classic Life on Mars? (great song, horrible video...orange hair and a pastel blue suit? Seriously...like what was David Bowie thinking back in the early 70s?). Anyway, Sam Tyler wakes up in
in 1973, is he in a coma? Has he traveled back in time? He is completely clueless and so are we. Manchester
So Sam Tyler is stuck in a 1973 nightmare without the internet, mobile phones or computers. He is also forced to put up with dinosaur police colleagues who are sexist, racist and smoke too much. The best character on the show is Sam's whiskey-swigging wise-cracking boss from hell Gene Hunt; an expert at making sexist comments, planting evidence, carrying out grievous bodily harm and of course taking bribes. Since Sam comes from 2006 where all policing is followed strictly by the book, he feels like he "landed on another planet" [part of the show's tagline],
Modern British policing all strictly by the book? Hahaha! The recent phone-hacking scandal in the UK revealed (among other things), that journalists bribed several police officers over an extended period of time in order to get information about criminal investigations. As appalled as I was about the revelations, the fact that policemen in a model western democracy took bribes gives me ample satisfaction. Why? Well, over the years, us in the [so-called] Third World have been preached to, patronized, and admonished by the West about our weak and corrupt institutions. Turns out people who live in glass houses.....
However, I cannot be rubbing my hands with glee for too long. One thing I know is that once the problem has been identified in the UK, swift corrective action will follow. Indeed, as I type, heads have already started rolling. Alas, that is the difference between our part of the world and the West. On a few occasions, we actually identify the rot but we are either slow to act or choose to ignore the problem for various reasons. So in the end who gets the last laugh?
By the way, someone better tell Sam Tyler that he may be better off staying put in 1973. After all, things may not have changed that much between then and now.
**Bent British Coppers= Corrupt British Police officers