A Brief Look at LIFE ON MARS

life on mars

Admittedly, this TV Addict is a little late to the LIFE ON MARS party. But following a weekend of back-to-back-to-back episodes (or, as I like to call it, my mini MARSathon) let me just saythat if you’re not watching this time-trippin’ cop show, you’re missing out on the best new show of the season. (Sorry, J.J. Abrams… )

Based on the popular British series of the same name, MARS revolves around Detective Sam Tyler (the underappreciated Jason O’Mara) who is plowed down by a car and wakes up in a New York City where the World Trade Center is still standing, misogony is a way of life and fighting crime is a down and dirty business. This ain’t your mama’s New York City. Then again, maybe it is… because Detective Tyler has somehow been thrown back in time to 1973!

With nothing better to do while he waits for answers as to how and why he’s living in an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Tyler solves crimes with his new co-workers of the (fictional) 125th Street Precinct. These include his new partner, Ray Carling (played by THE SOPRANOS’ Michael Imperioli) and their boss, Lt. Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel, who plays the hell out of the role by chowing down on every piece of period scenery in sight, and I mean that in a good way). Then there’s Annie “No Nuts” Norris (Gretchen Mol), the precinct’s answer to MAD MEN’s Peggy, who proves that while it was a blast to be a gun-toting, booze-swilling, rule-bending male cop in 1973, the only glass ceiling being talked about where women were concerned was the one she might be asked to scrub (if only so the guys could look up her dress while she did it).

This is a wildly-entertaining cast with enough talent to make next year’s Emmy nominations a whole lot more interesting. Better still, they’re given scripts that are briskly paced, well-balanced between comedy and drama, and filled with just enough intriguing clues as to how our hero wound up doing the time warp to keep us coming back for more without feeling ripped-off when we don’t get answers. In fact, if giving Detective Tyler answers means bringing the series to a close, we’re happy to keep right on wondering what the heck is really going on.

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  • Melissa

    I love this show!!! I love anything set in the 70’s ( i was born way after i should have been). So glad that you are enjoying it! Lets just hope everyone else is tuning in to it too!

  • Gabi

    I also think this is the best new show of the season, I really like it. It’s fun and very entertaining, what a good TV show should be, and of course I especially like Jason OMara, he is perfect for that role. This has actually become one of my top five shows this fall, can’t wait for a new episode tonight. Hope more people will be watching, I’m really afraid ABC might cancel it.

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  • paketep

    I can’t understand this american mania of remaking the best of everything outside (and effing up 95% of their tries in the process). Why not just show the originals?.

    I haven’t watched the remake (although Jason O’Mara doesn’t give me much confidence, and I’ll miss Colm Meaney) so I can’t speak about it. I can say, though, that the Office is the only show I can remember that made the transition decently.

    And after this, my beloved IT Crowd. Damn you, American suits!!!

  • Hilsto

    The American version isn’t bad. It just seems a bit redundant and a downgrade after the British version. I hope it goes in an entirely different direction from the original and soon since O’Mara is no Simm and Keitel is no Glenister. They need to go off in a direction that lines up with their acting abilities and appearance. No one can buy this Gene pushing this Sam around. Sam is bigger and Gene is older. Have them play off each other in another way.

  • LAN3

    American shows can’t quite do what the British do because the Brits (well, BBC anyway) doesn’t have commercial interruptions. But American Life on Mars has enhanced a few things, like Imperioli’s “Ray” character is deeper than the brain-damaged UK version, and the hippie neighbor of Sam’s should do a better job of getting between Sam and Annie than anything ever did in the UK version. Keitel was born to play bad Lieutenants, but he really needs to turn it up to 11 to live up to Philip Glenister’s Gene Hunt.

    paketep, good news– new series of IT Crowd (UK, that is) should start in November! In fact, the last episode (6 total as usual this series) is being taped on 10/31. I’d love to see Joel McHale and Richard Ayoade in an American version, but I’ll definitey settle for another series by the brits!

  • LAN3

    I had the idea that the WTC wasn’t quite complete in 1973, and would therefore be an anachronism in an unintended way. But it had indeed opened, both towers, by the start of ’72. Still, it probably had that new-building smell lingering when Sam Tyler arrives in the past.

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  • Nick.C

    This is the BEST new show this year!Your story(TV ADDICT)was perfect.All you old fans of the Brit show give it a chance and if your new to it then you have to start watching now.I like The Mentalist and Fringe but this show is telling an evolving story that you don’t see anymore on American tv.I don’t care what you Brit loves say,The cast is top notch!!!!!!

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  • Julien

    The cast is far from Top notch

    Watch the UK version, that cast is top notch

    I tried it but it’s just impossible to watch if you saw the UK version wich was so perfect

  • Nick.C

    Well i think the cast is top Notch and if you get over it being a remake you might see that.Most people would say that Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli are damn good actors….This is just like the Office.People hated on the new one and said the same negative stuff…There is always going to be stuck up people who think anything British is better…

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