Previously on Moonage Daydream: Cop goes back in time. Gets to solve some crimes, some of which involve mobsters. Meets his mom, which turns out to be awkward. And there are many, many flashbacks to women in red dresses. There. You're all up to date.
Speaking of women in red dresses, Li'l Sam -- that's the 1973 toddler version of Our Hero -- is watching one flee to the woods on a TV screen, when a gentlemen in a hat presents the boy with a new toy spaceship. The hat-wearing chap is, very obviously, Sam's father, who is played, even more very obviously, by Dean Winters. You may recognize him from such TV shows as Oz or, more recently, on 30 Rock as Liz Lemon's meathead ex-boyfriend. This latter role has robbed Dean Winters of some of his air of menace, for me, anyhow, as I now expect him to try and sell people pagers or deliver heartfelt monologues about how Liz Lemon has "chosen to abort me." I am almost certain that this is not the effect the producers of Life on Mars are aiming for. Nevertheless, our takeaway from this scene -- besides that shot of the lady in red on the TV, I suppose -- is that Li'l Sam has a birthday coming up and his deadbeat dad doesn't plan to miss it. "Maybe one day you can go to the moon," Ol' Man Tyler murmurs at his son. Or perhaps... he could go to Mars! Bwah ha ha ha ha!
And by "Mars," we, of course mean, "elsewhere in New York City," where Sam is on a stakeout with Hunt, Skelton and Carling. It is nice that they decided to carpool to the stakeout -- very earth-conscious of them. The boys are working a kidnapping case, in which the father of the purloined infant will drop off the ransom at Astroland Park -- fans of leitmotifs will enjoy the rocket ship in the foreground of the park -- and when the kidnapper shows up to collect the ransom, the detectives will nab him. And that's exactly how the plan plays out -- a shadowy figure picks up the ransom from a trash can, and after a fairly by-the-numbers foot chase, the cops pick up him. After a flying tackle from Carling, the cops slap some cuffs on the kidnapper, who turns out to be... Dean Winters. Poor Sam -- I bet he hasn't been this uncomfortable since learning that his mom was palling around with loan sharks. If this series continues much longer, he's gonna learn that his grandmother ran a profitable bookmaking operation and his beloved uncle was one of the Watergate burglars.