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. (Source)
TV Show Tags: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime Drama, Mystery, Drama, Mind-bending, Suspense
Life on Mars is one trippy show! In a good thought provoking kind of way, along with having some wonderful entrainment qualities. This is the US remake of a UK show by the same name, with a related story line. (I can't tell you how spot-on it is, as I haven't seen the UK version. Here.)
The entire show and everything in it sends you on serious mind trip that will have you questioning anything and everything, both inside the show and about your own reality. (Okay maybe not quite as much in reality, but it will make you think!)
The plot simple or is it? Sam Tyler is struck by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973. How did he get there? More importantly, how does he get back?
Arriving in 1973 he is met with the same life he had in 2008, more or less. He's is detective working for the homicide department in New York, who happens to be a new transfer. From there he sets out to solve murder casing, because that's what he does and is expected to do. In the first episode he is met with the same crime he case he was trying to solve in 2008. Spooky. Consequence or not..?
Normally I don't care for cop shows, sure I like a little mystery, but I can't stand a typical cookie-cutter police show. This show however is right up the alley of 'something' else that I enjoy. I need something with a little extra kick to keep me interested. (Hello Castle, Psych, and related police shows.)
Everything about this show is about tie in.. sometimes. Everything is related, even when it isn't. Which makes it all the more confusing, because it doesn't always makes sense. What's real, what isn't? We are never sure. At any moment something could connection or it could as easily fall apart. The entire reality of 1973 is hanging by a thread. Is there something that keeps it all in balance?
This show is all questions, few answers. Which makes it a ton of fun along with hurting my head a little bit.
What I found the most interesting, was seeing Sam try and work within the world and remain who he was. He can't deny the fact that's he's in 1973, but he knows his life from 2008. At one point he makes a list of possible things that could be happening, trying to reasons it all out. From drug trip, to parallel universe, and of course coma; which is the answer he settles on for awhile after the outside world starts to contact him. Which is BY FAR my favourite part of the show. It is clever.
From having him see shapes in the clouds, which form into a person and start talking to him, to suddenly being in a spotlight and hearing voices he knows, to seeing reflections of his old life in windows or mirrors. One I liked the most, was a radio. He starts to hear his girlfriend's voice speaking to him, but it's fuzzy, causing him to tune the radio until he can hear her clearly.
The creepiest one is a man in his TV. Sam is watching a science show, the host starts going on about science this, logical that, then starts talking about parallel worlds and things that don't make sense, only to turn and look at Sam speaking to him. Leaving him with vague answers and more questions, to then walk away and have the program cut to "No air".
Creepy, creepy, creepy!
The lines between reality are always over-lapping or better yet falling apart, because you don't know which 'reality' is real.
I love those sort of 'is he out of his mind' moments, after he has a 'vision' (or whatever you want to call it), because they usually effect what's going on. Often leading Sam to where he should be and wouldn't be if they hadn't happened. Maybe. Sometimes. Which is what really sends you for a trip.
Leaves you questioning the typical time travel questions. "Does/will this change the future?" "What if this is what had to be done to make the future he knows?" "Is that why he is there, because what he knows, helps lead them to change things?" etc. Those questions drive me insane!
Now I can't say MUCH more but the series is short (it got canceled) but luckily wrapped up. At the end almost everything is answered. Some might think it's a sloppy ending, but when you know you're getting cut you gotta do what you gotta do. I personally don't mind wrap-ups. I'm much happier to see a series get some questions answers, than none.
Life On Mars (US) is only one season with 17 episodes
I can't tell you how much I fell in love with this show. It's the kind of show that makes you think, when really that leads you no where, but you can't stop yourself from doing it all the same.
I highly recommend it!
Recommend: If you like quirky TV with a bit of crime solving, mind-bending, Sci-Fi.
Note: I do realize the UK version is probably much better and I will no doubt get around to watching it someday. Maybe then my opinion on the US version will change, but for now this is my opinion of it.