Saturday, April 4, 2009


Not to be read if you haven't seen the British version of 'Life On Mars'. That means you, Uncle Brian-El. Go back to Krypton and sit this one out.

I guess the same could be said for anyone who didn't see the American version either.....

Back in November, I felt confident enough about what I knew so far concerning the American version of 'Life On Mars', that I decided to theorize about what was going on and how two different versions of the same story could share the same Toobworld.

Is Sam clicking Windy's button?
At the time, the producers had not yet said anything about what the show's ultimate revelation would be, specifically that they were not going to follow the British template. So I was operating under the assumption that the American Sam was in a coma, and that he was hallucinating his own version of British Sam's 1973 world - based on purloined psych reports that somebody in Great Britain had passed on to American Sam because of the coincidence of names and certain situations between their two lives.

But of course, that sort of suggestion depended on Sam Tyler really existing in 2008.

I think the hope that both series can exist in the TV dimension (without driving each other crazy - oops. Sorry about that, Chief!) can still be maintained. It just means that somebody else in the series had access to the psych profile of Sam Tyler of Manchester, England.

And everyone knows it's Windy.*

Not meaning to break my arm by patting myself on the back, but I figured Windy was truly a construct of Sam's imagination back on November 7th in another blog post: "NYPD Detective Sam Tyler in 'Life On Mars' (the US version) has a neighbor named Windy (whom I think is an hallucination within a hallucination, which may have already been established)."

But I never guessed she'd be revealed in the finale to be the on-board computer guiding not only the spacecraft, but also the neural stim dreams each of the crew had during the trip while in suspended animation.

By 2035, computers are going to be so advanced, they'll be able to hold all the world's information in storage banks even smaller than they are now. So it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble that "Windy" (I didn't catch what the computer's actual monkier was - WND4B?) had access to everything in the world ever stored on a computer, even if it had nothing to do with the Mars mission. And it could utilize this info to enhance the dreams of all the astronauts on board.
I'm thinking "Windy" was a more advanced version of "Ziggy", used decades earlier by that 'Quantum Leap' project in the secret New Mexico mountains facility. Ziggy had access to all sorts of arcane and trivial information based on thousands of news reports fed into the databanks. Decades later, Windy had access to that same information... information... information, with the storage capacity for plenty more - including police psychological profiles from over a generation before and from all over the world.

Based on what we learned from the final episode, astronaut Sam Tyler had chosen the milieu of 2008 to be the basis for his neural stim dream to keep his mind active during suspended animation. Now, it's always been the contention of Toobworld Central that TV characters are the same age as the actors who play them, unless otherwise stated.

(Take Roaring Chicken, Hekawi medicine man on 'F Troop' as an example - I think he was supposed to be over one hundred years old! Edward Everett Horton, who played Roaring Chicken, was in his 80s when he died. And in the opposite direction, Terry O'Quinn is playing John Locke several years younger than he really is on 'Lost'.)

So I'm thinking that Sam Tyler, based on Jason O'Mara's age, is about 37. That means he was about ten years old back in 2008. Why he chose a detective as his persona, I have no idea, but something about that time period meant a lot to him and he wanted this chance to explore it again.

But then there was the meteor strike that damaged the computer system, specifically the neural stim dream being fed to Sam. (This would be at the moment in Sam's dream when he was struck down by the car.) So Windy had to improvise and feed him a new set of information. That's when it open the stored files about Manchester police detective Sam Tyler - It was probably the name that tripped Windy's access as it scrambled to create the parameters for a new dream sequence.
Windy used the same scenario as Sam reported back in the late 2000's, but because of the damage caused by the meteor, there were glitches.

Sam remembered the 2008 scenario even as he was immersed into the world of 1973.
Windy had to cull the avatars for the other crew members to supply a "cushion" around Sam in order to protect his mind. On a deep, sub-conscious level, he knew that he could trust these other four with whom he "worked". And it could be that some of their neural stim dreams were seeping into Sam's program as well. We only know about the nature of one other dream sequence - that of Ray Carling. He said that his choice had been a desert island fantasy where he was surrounded by only beautiful women... and men with no penises. Since Windy didn't contradict him, that's probably true. And it could explain Sam's distaste for Ray within the context of the 1973 dream.
And it also created an avatar for itself in the form of Sam's neighbor in 4B. (Like the computer Agnes in that 'Twilight Zone' episode with Wally Cox, Windy may have developed emotional sentience and then fallen in love with Sam in that dream world. It did seem strange that "she" wound up in his bed in the final episode - probably "her" only chance since he was close to waking up from his induced sleep.....)

It may be that most of the 1973 flavor to Sam's mental world was being supplied by the neural stim dreams of his father, Major Tom Tyler. He must have been one hell of a scientist to be allowed on the trip at the age of 70 - which means he was about 8 years old in 1973. And for alls I know, as Stuart Best would say, it was his revenge fantasy against his father that fed into Sam's dream. After all, Sam's dream father didn't look like a young Major Tom. ("Gene Hunt" as we knew him through most of the series.) But it was Major Tom as Gene Hunt who eventually gunned down Sam's dad in the dream.

The name of Sam's dad in that dream-state? Vic... as in "victim"? Ahhh, I'm probably reading too much into that. But Vic Tyler was probably Sam's grandfather, and Tom Tyler was the one who had problems with him, which he could have been wrestling with in his own dream.
If there are any discrepancies in the facts about 1973, - if a song was used on the soundtrack that hadn't come out yet in 1973, let's say - they could be ascribed to the damage done to Windy's memory banks by the meteor. That would clear up a LOT of Zonks for the show.

We'd have to look at the pop culture references made during Sam's dream to see if they could be splained away in connection to them being supplied by the ship's computer. And there are three that come to mind.

1] Sam mentioned that Mary Tyler Moore was on TV, and how she could turn the world on with her smile.

Not a problem - in Toobworld, Mary would be an actress, and instead of quoting a theme song lyric, Sam was merely stating a fact.

2] The avatar that Windy created for herself wanted to know if Sam knew who Steve McGarrett was, and he replied sure - McGarrett was connected to "Five-O".

In the massive data dump which it had accessed to, Windy would have police files from Hawaii as well as from Manchester, England. The same would be true of Lt. 'Columbo' from the Los Angeles Homicide division, mentioned by Ray in the final episode.

3] Frank Morgan told Sam that he was in love with Angie Dickinson as Pepper Anderson on 'Police Woman'; he wanted to go to Maine and make babies with her.

Not a Zonk here either. In Toobworld, Pepper Anderson must have become famous enough that they made a TV show about her. And in Toobworld, their version of the show aired a year earlier than the one we know in the real world.

So anyhoo..... I think I've blathered on enough about Windy the computer. Time to go into sleep mode......

Toby O'B

* The song "Windy" has another rainbow reference to tie in with the "Wizard Of Oz" theme: "Who's bending down to give me a rainbow?"


Win Scott Eckert said...

Loving the Wold Newtonesque LIFE ON MARS posts!

Toby O'B said...

Thanks, Win! Coming from you that certainly means a lot to me!

Brian-El said...

Thanks for the personal warning in bold!! I scrolled past...