I was looking forward to the high-defintion release of Life on Mars, but have been let down.
The Bluray has only slightly better picture quality than the DVD. It’s not even as good as downloaded 720p, but I suppose it’s the best you can expect given that it was shot on 16mm and edited digitally with effects added.
The biggest problem is that the frame rate has been changed from 25Hz to 24Hz. I have a 100Hz TV and it judders like mad. It’s really off-putting, so much so I returned the Bluray and got the DVD. The slightly better picture is just not enough to compensate. The only reason I can think of for doing this is to make the disc playable in NTSC countries, but since it’s a UK program that hardly justifies ruining it. Even the pace of the show seems off in parts.
I’m not sure the sound is better either – the original BBC mix was certainly compressed and very loud in parts, but the Dolby mix here suffers from the typical film problem of speech being too quiet in parts. Maybe it’s better if you have a 5.1 system and can turn up the centre, but I am listening to normal TV sound in 2.1. The BBC mix is more “artistic” too, with the use of music and ambient sound being a lot more dynamic and integrated into the overall presentation. The Bluray mix feels a bit amateurish and occasionally the odd line will seem really out of place and not mixed properly.
Overall I’m really disappointed, as I love the series. I am hoping that Ashes to Ashes will be better, but it seems unlikely… I think you just have to accept that these series will never be in high-definition.