Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Sam Tyler

Having recently watched Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel, I got into a Time-travel mood and realized that I had missed one of my favourite Time Travelling characters in Science Fiction. So this week we’ll be looking at Sam Tyler (pictured left) from the BBC Series, Life on Mars.

As a teen I thought a lot about time travel, whether backwards or forwards, the idea always intrigued me – I wondered how well I would do in such a situation and thought pretty highly of my own abilities. Unfortunately for Sam, he isn’t in any way prepared for the event when it occurs. A Police detective for the city of Manchester, Sam is hit by a car in 2006, then awakes in 1973 (when he would have been just under five years of age), and is as assumed to be a replacement detective in the same precinct and is given pretty much his original job.

The series plays with Sam’s attempts to understand his own situation, which he describes in the opening sequence as either dead, in a coma, or actually back in time. His search for a way home is the overall theme of the series, but each episode focuses on a standard police case, which Sam helps in solving.

What I love about the character is his ability to balance working with these old school officers while attempting to use modern police techniques which have no merit or precident in his new time. His character’s continued fish-out-of-water existence makes for some incredibly entertaining viewing, as his new co-workers are pretty crude by any standard.

If you’ve never given the show a try – give it a look. Just keep an eye out for the Test Card Girl, one of the images Sam keeps seeing over and over again and a strong contender on my list of creepiest girls in genre television.

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