As I wrote recently, David Puttnam spoke at the BAFTAs about the way in which cinema at its best both informs and entertains at the same time. He also spoke of how it speaks to our inner-most self, addressing issues that make us identify with the character before us, and respond, "I thought I was the only one who knew what that feels like!"
The same things apply to the best TV drama. Though I track a lot of these, few hold my emotional attention beyond the first series. The perennially excellent ER is the clearest exception.
But Life On Mars ended last night, and left me looking forward to the second series. Why? For those all those reasons Puttnam identifies. The writing is of the highest standards; the scripts, 70's nostalgia, and cast are hugely entertaining; it handles social history without being stuffy, and social commentary without being preachy; and makes emotional connections with anyone who feels dislocated from familiar surroundings. While, in my opinion, subsequent series' of 24 and Desperate Housewives have merely cashed-in on repeating succesful formulas, I do think there is more to be explored here. Time will tell.
Life On Mars ER