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Life on Mars

Entry updated 13 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (2008-2009). Kudos Film and Television for ABC. Created by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Scott Rosenberg, based on the British series of the same name, created by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh. Writers include Appelbaum, Nemec and Rosenberg. Directors include Michael Katleman, Darnell Martin and Alex Zakrzewki. Cast includes Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler, Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt, Gretchen Mol as Annie Norris, Michael Imperioli as Ray Carling and Jonathan Murphy as Chris Skelton. 17 one-hour episodes.

Short-lived and abysmal remake of the British series Life on Mars (2006-2007) about Sam Tyler, a police detective who, following a car accident and apparent Timeslip, wakes up in 1973 and has to contend with a violent, racist police force and the wannabe cowboy at the head of his department. Despite strong casting – movie actor Keitel is slumming in television, and Imperioli was fresh off a stellar turn in The Sopranos – the remake is preachy where the original Life on Mars was subtle, and its historical reenactment prone to Clichés. It is notable in the sf context only in that it deviates from the original, which eventually concluded that 1973 was Sam's dying fantasy (but then complicated that resolution in the finale of its sequel series, Ashes to Ashes), by revealing that Sam is actually an astronaut on his way to Mars, who is being entertained by a Virtual Reality simulation which has malfunctioned. Though it is possible that the show's writers would have crafted a more satisfying resolution if given more time (the remake was cancelled after only 17 episodes), this is a particularly unworthy one. [AN]


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