Saturday, April 11, 2009


Every so often I come up with a theory for "Inner Toob" which I eventually have to discard. Usually this happens AFTER I post it and one of Toobworld's discerning disciples points out the errors of my ways.

And then there are those I have to toss aside before they even make it to post.

This is one of those, but even though I realize now that it cannot be, I still wanted to share it with you - especially if you were a fan of the US version of 'Life On Mars'.

Boiled down to a one sentence pitch: Detective Chris Skelton, played by Jonathan Murphy, was an android.

If 'Life On Mars' never jumped forward 27 years to 2035, I never would have entertained the idea, even though everything in Toobworld is connected and there are androids among us here in 2008. But once we found out that the entire series had been a dream for an astronaut in suspended animation, it became a true sci-fi series and that possibility could be considered.
Stepping outside the realm of Toobworld's inner "reality" for a moment, the producers brought actor Jonathan Murphy into the 'Life On Mars' fold after working with him on 'October Road'. I have to figure they could have promised him something to make the character worthwhile for him to play. And I think we got a glimpse of that when Sam got that phone call from the Aries Project. We saw the caller, but from the back of his head, and the call was coming from inside the 125th Precinct.

That caller looked a lot like Detective Chris Skelton.

With hindsight, we have to figure that Sam Tyler was working details of his real life in 2035 into his emergency dream world of 1973. So deep down, he knew Chris was connected to their Mars mission. But why single out Chris instead of Gene, Ray, or Annie? They were all on board the Hyde 1-2-5 spacecraft as well.

"Oh my God! You're a robot!"

If Chris turned out to be an android, it could be Sam singled him out because he was different from the rest of the crew.

What killed the idea for me was a second viewing of that last ten minutes of the show. Fixated as I was on the overall scenario, I had forgotten certain details - like seeing Annie, Ray, and Chris awaken from their slumber chambers as well. I only remembered Sam and his dad, Major Tom Tyler.

If Chris had been an android, why bother putting him into sleep stasis? He could have been overseeing the daily routine of ship maintenance and piloting during the mission which lasted 2 years, 3 months, and 22 days. During the week between viewings of the series' final scene, I thought we didn't see Chris in a sleep chamber. I was wrong about that, but we definitely didn't hear him say anything about what type of neural stim dream he requested as we did with Sam and Ray. (With Annie, there may have been some overlap between her dream and Sam's in some way. That's the inference I got from the looks they gave each other.)

Do androids dream of electric sheep and all of that.....
Two reasons the android theory came to me. There was an innocence about Chris Skelton, especially when he would consult with Sam about how to handle certain situations - like dating a woman. It reminded me of the ways Lt. Commander Data of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and John Henry of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' would ask humans about the mysteries of simple human nature.
Then there was the fact that he got shot up pretty badly by Jimmy McManus and was touch-and-go on the operating table. True, Ray got shot as well, but he was up and about quickly - probably because his could have been just a flesh wound, or a neat in-and-out off to the side.

But Chris looked to be seriously wounded with a few direct hits. And yet miraculously, he too was up and out of the hospital within a day. Yeah, it was all a dream, but couldn't Sam's mind have been incorporating Chris' cybernetic innards into the equation?

Finally - and this is going out on a wild stretch of the imagination! - there was the focus put on Chris giving Sam a St. Christopher medal. We can look back on it now and see that it was Sam's brain factoring in the waking world reality of being on that trip to Mars. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, after all, and Sam's sub-conscious may have been grappling with doubts about their safety - especially after experiencing that meteor shower collision (which was interpreted by his neural stim dream as getting hit by a car).
But here's where I had the quantum leap of interpretation.... What if the St. Christopher medal was code for: "Say! Ain't Christopher metal?"

I know. It's a reach.
But if I'm not mistaken, "Metal" is a slang term for the androids/cyborgs from the Terminator mythos. And there's just something about that pose above that smacks of 'Holmes & Yoyo'.....

And like I said, 'Life On Mars' does take place in a TV dimension in which there are androids already in existence - Cameron and John Henry of 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles' currently; but also Hymie the Robot ('Get Smart'), Gregory Yoyonovich, ('Holmes & Yoyo'), Officer Haven ('Futurecop'), the Man ('Project: Tin Men'), and even Bigfoot ('The Six Million Dollar Man'). So it wouldn't be unlikely that one might show up in 'Life On Mars' - at least the American version.

Speaking of 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles', 'Life On Mars' - as well as 'Star Trek' and other future series - trumps the timeline for the TV version of 'Terminator'. But I haven't seen yet what happens Friday night in their season finale... which may be the series finale as well.

Anyhoo, this was the theory that got away from me (like this post!) and which I had to abandon. Still, I thought it might be of interest to Toobworldlies......

Toby O'B

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