Life on Mars

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

All this shouting has stirred Lt. Gene Hunt, who emerges, squinting, from his office to see what all the commotion is about. Hunt is played by Harvey Keitel, with all his usual sweaty, slicked-back panache, and that instantly sends me diving to the TV Guide to confirm what channel I'm watching. Because where Harvey Keitel goes, his penis usually follows, and if this is airing on pay cable, you and I have a plenty of nightmare-fueling appearance by Little Harv in our future. Fortunately, we're on ABC, which spares us from any full-frontal cameos, though, sadly, not from any ass shots, thanks to the Dennis Franz Full Moon Act of 1994. "OK," says Sam, striding up toward Hunt because he apparently fears no form of Harvey Keitel nudity. "Surprise me. What year is this supposed to be?" Hunt invites Sam into his office to discuss the matter further -- by which I mean that he grabs Sam by the lapels and slams him into a filing cabinet before telling him that it's 1973 and that he had better mind his Ps and Qs if he expects to have an internal bleeding-free stay in the 125th Precinct. To drive home his point, he punches Sam in the gut. Note to self -- do not ask that guy for the time of day.

Back in the squad room, Sam is waiting for his organs to slide back into place while a TV plays the old "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" Alka-Seltzer commercial and a newspaper announces that the U.S. has suspended offensive actions in North Vietnam. Because, in case you turned in five seconds ago, it's 1973, and such things are remarkable to those of us from the future. Sam picks up the rotary phone (so freaky if you're from the future!), gets the operator (ditto!), and tries to place a call to the 917 area code, which, of course, proves to be unsuccessful as that area code does not exist in 1973. Operator, you are blowing my mind! Apparently, Sam's mind is getting blown, too, because he hears the distinct sound of doctors and nurses and machines that go ping scurrying to revive somebody -- most likely, a post-collision him. Sam puts his hands to his ears, bellowing "Stop!" It makes the doctor-and-nurse noises go away, but it also brings the entire 1973-era 125th Precinct to a screeching halt. I fear Sam is failing to make a good impression on his first day on the job.

Given Sam's apparent distress -- "dizzier than a monkey on a merry-go-round" is Dr. Imperioli's diagnosis -- he is dispatched to the one person in the station house with any degree of medical know-how. That'd be Annie Norris, a member of the Policewoman's Bureau and affectionately referred to by her male colleagues as No Nuts, because of her life-threatening peanut allergy. No, no -- that's a lie. They call her that because she's a girl, and the thought of working next to one is both hateful and terrifying to the boys down at the 125. Or maybe they just saw her in The Funeral. There's a guy I haven't spoken to in more than a decade after he suggested we watch that picture. Anyhow, No Nu... er, Annie is not exactly buying Sam's I Am An Unwitting Visitor From the Future patter, but conversing with him is more fulfilling than the usual stultifying busy work she's given, so what the hey.

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Life on Mars

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