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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

‘Life on Mars’ now available for preordering at Amazon


Well, maybe.

Yes, it’s cool that everyone who does not have a region-free DVD player will soon be able to watch the original and best Life on Mars — it’ll be out on July 28. (Pictured is the Region 2 set, because there’s no art for the Region 1 set yet.)

This is my one worry: The music is so integral to the show, and music-rights issues are often an issue when dealing with international DVD releases. I wish I could say that anything produced in the 2000s would be immune from these problems, because surely people would have taken into account the fact that everything gets released everywhere on DVD eventually and so would have dealt with those rights issues from the very beginning. But this is not the case. So I’m worried that we’re going to find that some music has been replaced on the Region 1 set because rights were not cleared for North America.

I’ve got a review copy of the Region 1 set coming, so I’ll be able to compare with Region 2, and I’ll let you know watch the sitch is as soon as I can.

If you want to order from Amazon U.K., go for it — you can’t go wrong:

Series 1 in Region 2 (Amazon U.K.)
Series 2 in Region 2 (Amazon U.K.)
both in a box set in Region 2 (Amazon U.K.)

(Thanks to reader Nevin for pointing out the preordering availability.)

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  • Ryan H

    It’s amazing how casually the media companies shoot themselves in the foot. Lots of us are, despite easy alternate availability, still quite happy to give them money for product that we enjoy. All we ask is that they deliver us our entertainment.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I think, though I would never say I know, that it’s easier for the BBC to get hold of music rights than any other company, so it’s possible that the producers of the BBC Life on Mars just got blase about their access to their preferred soundtrack choices while they were working on the show.

    I have heard unsubstantiated rumours that the US release of this series was delayed because of music clearance, and the above theory would explain things like Our Friends in the North having ‘I Am the Walrus’ on the soundtrack at a time when no other film or TV company could licesne the Beatles for any amount of money.

  • Ryan

    Random sorta unrelated question to you MaryAnn:

    Have you seen the State of Play the miniseries? I just Netflixed it over the weekend, and it was fantastic. If you haven’t, definitely check it out.

  • “Have you seen the State of Play the miniseries?”

    [raises hand] i can answer that. yes, she has (i know because i watched it with her). as a matter of fact, she is on her second go ’round with it. (i know because i have been watching it again too).

  • Gee

    I don’t think the UK TV companies shoot themselves in the foot but rather it is a function of pure economics in most cases.

    Paying for one, or several, UK domestic broadcasts may be feasible, but domestic UK DVDs are a step up from that and thus also sometimes have substituted or missing soundtracks eg Lost in Austen. However, international rights are outrageously expensive. It just isn’t ever going to be economically feasible in many cases to even consider going after international licenses.

    British TV does not have the same amount of money to spend on TV as the US because it is a much smaller market. The BBC uses licence fee payers’ money primarily to make programmes for their benefit. The average licence fee payer won’t be very happy to subsidize foreign sales. The BBC has no easier ride in obtaining rights than its competitors.

    I believe there is also a separation between BBC Worldwide and the BBC proper so as to try to balance the public funded BBC against commercial broadcasters interests to avoid unfair competition.

    Commercial broadcasters don’t have huge amounts for DVD content licensing either. They are faced with lower potential audience figures with 60m population compared to the US at five times that, with corresponding reduced advertising income.

  • chunter

    You don’t need a region-free DVD player if you have a Blu-ray player as the Blu-ray release in the UK of Life on Mars doesn’t have any region restrictions. I bought both seasons from Sendit.com for just £26.40 last month. Beautiful, high definition picture, uncompressed audio and some nifty extras (episode commentaries, making-of documentary, etc).

    Why buy down-rezzed US region 1 Season 1 DVDs when you can get both seasons in their original high def on Blu-ray for about the same price?

  • Victoria

    Even the Region 2 DVDs of Life on Mars have some substitutions for the music in the original BBC broadcast versions, unfortunately. (A notable example is Frankie Miller’s “I Can’t Change It” filling in for The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” in the fourth episode of the first series.) Hopefully the Region 1 DVDs don’t suffer even greater alterations due to rights issues.

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