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Life on Mars TV Show Review

Updated on April 28, 2015

Life on Mars Canceled

It is March 18, 2009. I just got done watching one of my favorite TV shows, "Life on Mars". At the end of the program it was announced that the final series episode will be on April 1, 2009. How fitting is that. Where have I been? I didn't even know ABC was ending the show. As they have many times before with good shows.

This of course is all in the name of ratings.

April Fool's Day seems fitting for ABC to end another TV program. Am I the fool for getting involved in a show that suddenly ends? Am I one of the few who knows and watches a great TV program, just to get canceled? Or is ABC the fool for not waiting to see if "Life on Mars" would find a fan base. There have been many programs in the past that had stayed on a couple of years before they found a fan base. Those shows ended up in the top spot.

That doesn't happen anymore. I admit I didn't even discover "Life on Mars" until a few shows had aired. I remember saying to myself, "Now this is something original." At least for American TV, a great change from the "OMG, not another reality TV show!"

At least ABC is giving "Life on Mars" it's dignity with tying up all the loose ends and giving the show an ending.

Unusual Update

The Unusuals, a drama and comic insanity of the world of New York City police detectives, replaced Life on Mars. In my opinion it is a very good show. At least ABC did something right! Update to this, Unusuals is dead too.

Latest Update

See below for latest update and your own views on the ending.

Episodes with the Ratings

Sneak Peak

The Plot of Life on Mars

Adapted from the BBC show of the same name, (Yes you heard that right. Another remake we took from the British. This show is an original for American viewers, but not for the UK.)

Life on Mars is a drama, comedy and sci-fi fantasy series that follows the life of modern day detective Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara), who wakes up after a car crash from 2008, in which his life was nearly taken and finds that he has been transported to the year 1973. There, Sam must work as a detective, but struggles to do so without his 21st century technology. Sam, wanting to follow the rules, finds that he is butting heads with his boss Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel) who is constantly bending the rules to suit his needs.

Sam Tyler's predicament: it is unclear. Each episode begins with a monologue from Sam, in which he says, "My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? 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."

With each episode he gets closer to what brought him there. Everywhere he turns, he finds something that relates to him. Sam begins feeling that he was sent back in time to fix a part of his past.

Sam finds his mother, who raised him as a single parent. She confides in him that she is having problems with her troubled son. She tells Sam that it is so hard that there isn't a father figure in his life. Eerie as it sounds, he has a talk with the boy, who is Sam.

The show isn't just about Sam. It is an irony on in the form of jokes about a future the audience already knows. How Sam clashes with his counterparts in 1973, when sexism, racism, police brutality and minor corruption are casually regarded as routine parts of the job.

There are some things in this show that I feel like they have gotten their times mixed up. For example, policewoman Annie Norris (Gretchen Mol) has a hair style that I think dates back to the 50s or 60s. But I do like her character and how she has to put up with snide remarks and not allowing her to be an equal part of the team.

Life on Mars: The Complete Series


"Have You Seen Your Mother"

Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?

Life on Mars - "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?" - Sam is unwillingly but hypnotically pulled back into his childhood when he becomes entangled in local gangster Nick Profaci's assault on a young, beautiful woman. Sam is amazed to discover that the woman, who is oddly familiar to him, is actually his mother back in 1973. While he anxiously attempts to save her, he uncovers two unsolved murders of women that possibly point to the involvement of Profaci and his mob boss, Elliot Casso's. But even more alarming is the discovery that members of the 1-2-5 - including Lt. Hunt - may be mixed up with Casso and his crew and may have prevented justice from being carried out.

"Tuesday's Dead"

Tuesday's Dead

Life on Mars- "Tuesday's Dead" - Sam Tyler finds it difficult to separate a life-and-death hostage situation taking place at County Hospital from his own strange circumstances. Stressed about a phone call where he seems to hear his mother's voice -- in 2008 -- begging him to wake up, he and the rest of the squad are ordered to diffuse a potentially explosive face-off in which a crazed gunman is trying to force a doctor to reverse a dangerous operation on the renegade's brother. Sam, Ray, Annie and Lt. Hunt are all targeted in the madman's cross hairs, but as Sam and the 1-2-5 attempt to resolve the confrontation, he suddenly realizes that the clock ticking on the gunman's demands parallels another deadline that could spell the end of Sam Tyler.

ABC's Big Mistake

A big mistake that ABC made was the first episodes were on Thursday nights. This is the reason I didn't watch those episodes. It aired against other good programs. Why executives do this is beyond me.

"Home Is Where You Hang Your Holster"

LIFE ON MARS - "Home Is Where You Hang Your Holster" -- After New York City Councilman Bobby Prince is unexpectedly caught with a hooker during a police raid on a motel, he shares a stunning secret with Detective Sam Tyler. The mysterious Councilman's haunting words shatter Sam's world, leaving him with more questions than answers. Meanwhile, a chaotic shooting at the 1-2-5 causes Lieutenant Hunt to call a lockdown at the precinct house. Adding to the electric atmosphere, family tensions explode as Hunt and his daughter, Maria, confront each other. And change is definitely in the air when Ray introduces Annie to his wife, Denise, on "Life on Mars," Wednesday, February 18 On The Abc Television Network.Jason O'mara, Gretchen Mol

Coffee, Tea or Annie

Coffee, Tea or Annie

LIFE ON MARS - "Coffee, Tea or Annie" - When Valerie Palmer, a Pan Atlantic air hostess turns up dead, Annie volunteers for a dangerous undercover mission, posing as the murdered woman to help solve the second in a possible series of brutal homicides. Annie, Sam and Ray, working one of Valerie's flights covertly, uncover an unlikely suspect. Then, an invitation to a lurid swingers' party leads to an evening full of sensational surprises - not just for Annie and Sam, attending undercover as a couple, but Lieutenant Hunt also arrives with a special guest to mix it up. Juicy sexual escapades bring the swingers' party to a fever pitch, but will the murderer be revealed? Finally, Annie confronts Hunt with the courage of her convictions about her future at the 1-2-5.

Ernesto Durango Life on Mars Last Show

Final Episode #17

Sam receives an offer to return to 2008 from a mystery caller. He is told that he needs to save himself first. His unstable father kidnaps little Sam. He searches to find them both and ends in a struggle of life or death with his father.

Through out the entire episode Sam is confused to whether he wants to stay in 1973. He discovers that Annie is the love of his life. But deep down he knows he can't stay.

The ending leaves us with Sam regaining consciousness, after sleeping for 3 1/2 years in a coma like state., along with his crew, in route to Mars. These are the same characters that were in his dream of being in 1973.

I have mixed feelings about the ending. I would have liked to see Sam return to 2008. Knowing that he had changed history for the better. Yet the ending did tie it all up. At the end "Life on Mars" ended to be exactly as the title states.

What do you think of the last Episode?

What are your views on the ending?

Writer for Hire

I have been writing articles since 2008. If you enjoyed this article my services are available to write for you. Please contact me for more information.

© 2009 Sandy Mertens

Did you watch Life From Mars? - Please the guestbook so I know you were here!

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    • ReviewsfromSandy profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin

      Sheila Marie, I don't know but you can look.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      3 years ago from British Columbia

      Sandy, thanks for reviewing this series, as I've never seen it. Do you think it's on netfliks?

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin

      Nadine May The series didn't last very long. We liked it because it was different then the other series at the time.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Never seen the series you wrote the revieuw about but then our tv programs are truly terrible in .SA so i might see if the series is available for hire

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      There really are a lot of great classic television shows. I seem to recall "Life on Mars" but it is a bit of a blur. You did an excellent showcase of this show.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      I do remember enjoying a couple of episodes of "Life on Mars" - but gave up on it when it got canceled.

    • BlenderHead LM profile image

      BlenderHead LM 

      7 years ago

      I watched the whole UK series and loved it! Would love to watch the US version also! Great lens!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great concept. They just didn't give it enough time! Darn!

    • Sami4u LM profile image

      Sami4u LM 

      8 years ago


      I can never understand how they take good TV shows and just drop them for no reason. Life On Mars was one of the good ones.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      8 years ago

      Haven't seen the US version but the original UK one was excellent.

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      They always cancel the bets TV shows! I'm often upset with this trend as those I like less remain! And so, I liked life on Mars; which was broadcast on our local channel. Trendy TV shows are rarily broadcast on this channel! And just like for Without a Trace that I loved so much, they cancelled...

    • mrsm54321 profile image


      9 years ago

      I've never seen the US version but here in the UK "Life on Mars" ran for two series. It is excellent TV and well worth watching. I am not sure if some of the references would be understood fully by a US audience but basically it is the same story.

      We are lucky in the UK as we also have "Ashes to Ashes" (third series starts next year) which is based on a police phycologist (I think!) going back in time to join Gene's team in the early 1980's.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      [in reply to gideon43] It was a good show. But as the title above states, it has been canceled.

    • gideon43 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens.

      As I live in the UK, I have yet to see the American version of Life On Mars but I can seriously say that the British version is almost certainly the finest T.V programme in the history of Televison.

      If your version is half as good, then it will be well worth watching.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Funny that I never saw it or heard of it. I have got to get out more

    • cattyjen profile image


      9 years ago

      I've never seen the American version, but the UK one was fantastic. This only ran for two series, but again did have a brilliant ending. i don't know whether it will transfer to the US, but in the UK there has already been a sequel, "Ashes to Ashes" set in the eighties. If you enjoyed "Life on Mars" you will definitely enjoy this one too.

    • MatCauthon profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm saving this series... for a long weekend. I never did get to watch it... 5* How about adding a netflix module?

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      9 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I wanted to watch that show for a long time, but if they canceled it, maybe it is not worth it. I hate foloowing a great TV show only to have it cancel midway

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I haven't seen either version, but very often successful UK shows are cloned and don't make it. I was surprised that The Office did, probably only due to the fact that they used Steve Carell. Coupling obviously didn't, and many more went the same way. I wonder why they can't just show the original UK version. In the UK we have many American shows and don't clone them.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I loved the original in the UK - would be strange to watch the US version because the humour in ours would have been so very different.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I haven't seen the American version, but I enjoyed the British original. I expect the use of language in the U.K. version would have been quite difficult to understand for some of the American audience. It's a good idea for a story. Shame it has been cancelled.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great the music

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • Sarunas profile image


      9 years ago

      Amazing lens :D 5* of course.

    • debnet profile image


      9 years ago from England

      I haven't seen the original show here (UK) but I know it was very popular... that's probably why the Americans copied it ;)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have never seen Life on Mars! Sounds like one that I would enjoy. My TV is a black box now, I watch DVDs. I'll see if the library might have it to check out! :) Cool lens!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      9 years ago

      Wow! Love your Playlist from the show :) I know how you feel about loving a show and it gets the axe! One of my faves from years ago that got canceled was Cop Rock...very creative!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      [in reply to JustBon-Crochet-Designs] Just looking at the video, I think I would enjoy the British version.

    • Rich-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I saw the British version which is just great, and I've been watching the US version too which I've been enjoying. Hate that they've canceled it. The new follow-up, Ashes to Ashes, is now on BBC America.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 

      9 years ago

      Like all the best series: cancelled.

      It is not fair!


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