Life on Mars

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Mr. Sobell: B+ | Grade It Now!
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That '70s Show

Outside the apartment, the cops are stuffing Willy into the back of a squad car, when Sam can't help but notice a worshipful little boy who looks not unlike David Caruso: The Prepubescent Years waving goodbye to Willy as he's driven off. If the penny has not dropped for you yet, Mrs. Raimes suddenly appears and yells for Colin and his twin brother to get inside. As he turns to go, we see the little boy holding a bag of marbles and get a flashback to a modern-day Colin telling us how much he likes playing marbles. So... have you figured out who that little boy grows up to be? That's right -- it's former New York Yankees pitcher David Cone!

Wait. No. It's Colin Reams. And he's apparently going to grow up to be just like Willy Kramer.

That's Sam's conclusion anyhow, but damned if he can get anyone to believe him. Annie certainly seems dubious when he explains it to her. "So what now, Sam?" Annie asks, with just a trace of concern in her voice. "I don't know, Annie," Sam says. "I don't know." Sounds like a man who wants to walk down the streets of early '70s New York while The Rolling Stones' "Out of Time" plays in the background if you ask me.

Anyhow, while Mick and the lads are wailing, Sam returns to his apartment, grabs his service revolver, and drives over to Colin's neighborhood. Sure enough, the little knee-biter is out playing in the streets. Sam calls him over by name, and Colin dutifully trots over to the car. Now if I might interrupt this building dramatic tension for just a moment -- I was a lad not much older than Colin in the late '70s... and I sure as shit knew better than to walk up to any old asshole in an orange muscle car who called my name. And I grew up in the suburbs, not the mean streets of Gotham. You're telling me that suddenly, some time in 1976, someone slapped their head and said, "Eureka! Never talk to strangers! We must convey this message of safety to America's youth post-haste!" I think not. Then again, it could be that Colin is something of a dummy.

Back to our scene. We establish that, yes, in fact, Colin does idolize Willy Kramer. "Willy isn't afraid of anything," Colin says sadly. "I'm afraid of everything." Oh, that's all right, my little serial killer-in-training: "It's good to be afraid, Colin," Sam says, surreptitiously reaching for his sidearm. "Fear keeps us honest. Fear keeps us alive." He looks at Colin, and his voice cracks a little: "It keeps us sane." And again, as a child of the '70s, I would like to interrupt here to just mention that this is the point in the conversation where the eight-year-old me would have been, "Gee, that's great mister... Moooooooooooooooooooooooooom!" And yet, there's something about this clearly fractured, babbling adult that intrigues young Colin.

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Life on Mars

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