"Life on Mars," the latest in a line of Brit hits to jump the pond in an Americanized version, had me tuning-in and turning-on to a blast-from-the-past that takes your average crime drama up a step ... and back in time.
The story line is an intriguing one ... in 2008, NYPD Detective Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara), is struck by a car. Getting up from the asphalt, he realizes that something's not right ... the sight of the World Trade Center on the skyline, maybe? Somehow, his clothes, his car, even his identity places him in 1970s New York City, in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War, Watergate, women's lib and the civil rights movements - without a cell phone, computer, PDA or MP3 player, or the modern-day police procedures in which he was trained.
While solving crimes, he's also trying to solve his own personal dilemna, to understand what has just happened to him, and how he can get back home. If you're a fan of the original British series, as I am, then this all seems very familiar. But if you're new to LOM, think about the possibilities of someone from today suddenly finding himself in the right place, but the wrong time, with sensibilities and values that must seem almost alien.
As was the case for so many other American adaptation of British programs, some episodes appeared to be the British series with an American accent ... but the new product didn't take long to start setting itself apart, establish it's own place and set its own course.
Initially, the program aired Thursday nights at nine o'clock (central) on ABC (KMID-TV in the Permian Basin). After it went on Christmas holiday hiatus (not a good idea, in my opinuion) it went to Wednesday nights, after "Lost." But even a good lead-in from that popular program could not boost LOM's numbers ... thus, the decsision to pull the plug on the program.
Okay, that's the bad news. But there's also some good news for me and the other seven people across the country (accordin to the ratings) that were still watching the show. The decision was made to cancel the show once its initial run of thirteen episodes was completed - rather than just ending it 'right here, right now.'
That final episode was still in production when the announcement was made, and it went back into re-write and re-shoot to produce a genuine finale, one that - we are told- will bring Sam Tyler's story to a proper end. We've also been told that ending will be different from the Brit version ... I know I'll be watching, to find out how - and IF - Sam gets home.