Life on Mars is an American science fiction crime drama television series which originally aired on ABC from October 9, 2008 to April 1, 2009. Co-produced by Kudos Film & Television, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios, it is about a New York City homicide detective who suddenly finds himself inexplicably transported from 2008 to 1973. The series was remade for the American market from the original version of the BAFTA-winning British series of the same name, shown by the BBC
The series tells the story of New York City police detective Sam Tyler (played by Jason O'Mara), who, after being struck by a car in 2008, regains consciousness in 1973. Fringing between multiple genres, including thriller, science fiction and police procedural, the series remained ambiguous regarding its central plot, with the character himself unsure about his situation.The series also starred Harvey Keitel, Jonathan Murphy, Michael Imperioli, and Gretchen Mol
Life on Mars garnered critical praise for its premise, acting, and depiction of the 1970s, but suffered from a declining viewership after its premiere. ABC announced on March 2, 2009 that it would not be ordering a second season. A DVD set of the complete series was released on September 29, 2009.
David E. Kelley was the initial writer and executive producer of the series pilot, but later handed over production responsibilities to others.The executive producers of the show are Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Scott Rosenberg, the producers of the ABC drama October Road.
After reviewing the pilot episode, ABC ordered an overhaul. Several members of the cast and crew were replaced, with production moved from Los Angeles to New York to allow producers to take advantage of recently enacted local and state tax credits for shows filmed in that stateThe setting of the series was also changed from Chicago to New York, taking place at the fictional 125th precinct of the New York City Police Department (NYPD)
The script was rewritten, with permission of the original creators, to remove the "unsatisfying" ambiguity of Sam's story in favor of a "mythological element" and "deeper mystery".
The series premiered in North America on October 9, 2008 on ABC, following Grey's Anatomy. Internationally, it also aired on Global in Canada, on FX in the UK, and on Network Ten in Australia. On November 20, 2008, ABC ordered four additional episodes to the show's original thirteen episodes. After its winter hiatus, the series was shifted to a Wednesday night timeslot on January 28, 2009, following Lost.
On March 2, 2009, it was announced that ABC would not be ordering a second season. The cancellation decision came early enough to allow producers time to wrap up the show's storyline. The network aired all 17 episodes ordered, with the final episode airing April 1, 2009
In the original ABC pilot, Rachelle Lefevre was cast as Annie Cartwright and Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt. However, in June 2008, both roles were recast in accordance with an overhaul of the series. After revisions by the producers Jason O'Mara, in the lead role of Detective Sam Tyler, was the only actor kept from the original ABC pilot. He was joined by Michael Imperioli, the Emmy Award-winning actor from The Sopranos as Detective Ray Carling,and Harvey Keitel was cast in the role of Lieutenant Gene Hunt. Gretchen Mol played Tyler's 1973 co-worker, Annie Norris. Lisa Bonet, formerly of The Cosby Show, was cast as Tyler's present-day love interest, Maya Daniels, replacing Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen.Detective Chris Skelton was played by Jonathan Murphy.
Philip Glenister and John Simm, stars of the UK version, had been approached for lead roles in the series, but had turned them down, partly due to family commitments, and in Glenister's case partly due to a fear of becoming "a nutter in The Priory".