Baba O'Rily in "Life on Mars"

Martin Bailey mobailey at
Sun Oct 11 20:40:39 UTC 2009


It was January 2006 when I said this, about a new UK TV show called "Life on Mars".

> A few minutes of Baba O'Reilly was played in new BBC drama "Life on Mars" on Monday night.
> It was one of the most compelling and imaginative uses of The Who's music on TV since the "Son of Sam" or "Quadrophenia" films.
> The scene started with a cop standing in the street, outside a record shop, in 1973. "Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy" album cover is shown in the 
> record store's window - between "American Pie" and "Everybody Knows this is Nowhere".
> Baba O'Reilly begins, just as incidental music.
> The cop then walks into the record store.  The sound of the music changes - still BOR, but now sounds muffled, like an album being played in 
> the shop.
> Cop walks into a sound booth.  BOR continues - much louder.
> Cop pushes needle off the copy of "Who's Next" playing on the record player in the booth.  Sound of scratching, then music stops.
> The scene took my breath away.  Very skilful sound direction.
> -MB

Nowadays, we have things like YouTube: and the whole glorious clip can been seen here:

The song starts about 30 seconds in, and it lasts for a few minutes.

Anyway, 3 years later, and the same Life on Mars program has now been remade in the US.  I saw the first episode this week. Its a pretty close facsimile.  I was pleased to see the first episode was titled "Out Here In The Fields".

Half way through the US version, the cop is stood on a street in 1973 New York.  Just like the UK show, Baba O'Riley starts playing.  It's a weirdly edited version (seems faster, the first few seconds loop a few times, then after the first lines are sung, it cuts straight to a later part of the instrumental).  After this, the plot follows the UK show exactly: cop walks into the music shop, then the cop walks into the music booth - all the time with Baba playing.

I don't think I'll watch the US version again.  I've got a feeling I've seen the best bit of it already.


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