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Time Travel Television Series

Life on Mars (USA) (2008)

P r i n c i p a l   C a s t
  Detective Sam Tyler
Lieutenant Gene Hunt
Detective Ray Carling
Detective Chris Skelton
Annie Norris
Jason O'Mara
Harvey Keitel
Michael Imperioli
Jonathan Murphy
Gretchen Mol

S y n o p s i s

"My name is Sam Tyler. I was in an accident, and I woke up in 1973. I don't know how or why I'm here, but whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home."

Life On Mars debuted on ABC in October 2008 the series features, Jason O'Mara as Detective Sam Tyler, Harvey Keitel as Lieutenant Gene Hunt, Gretchen Mol as Annie Norris, and Michael Imperioli as Detective Ray Carling.

New York Detective Sam Tyler is hit by an SUV while investigating a crime. When he awakens he discovers he has been transplanted to 1973. Still in posession of his ID Sam turns up at his precinct and butts heads literarlly and figuratively with Lt. Gene Hunt.

Sam soons discovers parallels between crimes that he is investigating in 1973 and his life in 2008. As Sam tries to understand his circumstances and whether or not he can return to his own time, he learns that his survival is in question and that its a race against time to get back home.  


T r a v e l l i n g  B e t w e e n   D i m e n s i o n s

Time travel appears to be one-way in this series, with Sam being mysteriously transplanted to the past when he was knocked unconcious following his accident. Sam constantly questions whether what he is experiencing is real, or whether it is all in his head.

R e v i e w


Adapted from the successful Britsh series by the same name, Life on Mars got off to a rocky start on North American shores. David E. Kelly was involved as writer and executive producer of the series pilot in early 2007. Initally set in Los Angeles, the pilot featured Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt, Rachelle Lefèvre as Annie Norris, and Lenny Clarke as George Randall. Although the series was picked up the pilot was ordered overhauled.

Cast for rejected pilot episode
(Left to Right - Lenny Clarke, Jason O’Mara, Rachelle Lefèvre, Colm Meaney.

Kelly walked away from the series and only Jason O'Mara remained after Meany, Lefevre, and Clarke were jettisoned as actors. A decision was made to set the series in 1970s New York instead of Los Angeles.

The new pilot still followed the British version's script very closely, and the casting and the setting of 1970s New York rings true. The joy of watching the series for me is not only that window into another time and world, but also to see how far we have come in a short time 35+ years in social and policing attitudes.

In an hommage to the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes the opening has a temporally confused Sam Tyler standing in New York city staring up at the twin towers of the World Trade center simlar to the reaction Charlton Heston's viewing of the Statue of Liberty.

The British run of Life on Mars followed the traditional format of ending after a limited arc of only 8 episodes. The first run was followed by a second "season" of another 8 epsiodes. It will be interesting to see how the American producers handle this limited arc and whether Sam follows the same fate of his UK counterpart or they take the show in new directions.

Episode Guide & Where to Find It

Currently playing on ABC, the series debuted on Thursdays at 10pm but will move to Wednesday nights beginning January 28th. It's widely expected that Life on Mars will follow LOST.

Episode 1
Out Here In The Fields
NYPD detective Sam Tyler mysteriously finds himself transported to 1973 after an accident. While there he gets caught up in solving a murder that is similar to a case he was investigating in 2008 and may be related to his girlfriend's disappearance.
Episode 2
The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler
Sam is beginning to settle in to 1973 and meets his neighbour, a hippie named Windy, who he begins to forge a bond with. At the precinct Sam becomes involved in a case what seems like a case of police corruption when two uniformed police officers are connected to a series of robberies. The episode explores what is real and what isn't and ultimately helps Sam solve the case.
Episode 3
My Maharishi is Bigger Than Your Maharishi
A hippie named the Maharishi is killed and Sam and Gene investigate. The hippie turns out to be a decorated Vietnam vetran with a past. The trail of the murder leads them to investigate gay bashing in Greenwich Village and confront uncomfortable truths. During the episode Sam learns that his young self maybe nearby and attempts to run into himself and his father at New York Nicks game.
Episode 4
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?
Episode 5
Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead
Episode 6
Tuesday's Dead
Episode 7
The Man Who Sold the World

©2008 - A. Taylor
Review Posted: 2008-12-21
R e l a t e d   L i n k s

Official ABC Website - Life on Mars

The official site for Life On Mars contains, downloads, posters, trailers, cast and character bios. Also has episode recaps and song guide for each episode. - Life on Mars

Life On Mars page at site. Contains, video clips, music videos, cast and character bios, news, and forum for discussing the show.

Andy's Anachronisms - Review of Life on Mars (United Kingdom)

Review of the British TV series Life on Mars on Andy's Anachronisms.


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