Skip to main content

"Life on Mars" Finds Its Sam Tyler in Actor Jason O'Mara

One of the questions I get asked fairly regularly via email is what ever happened to David E. Kelley's US adaptation of Life on Mars?

Being a huge fan of the original UK Life on Mars, I was fairly underwhelmed by Kelley's script, which did little more than transport the action from 1970s Manchester... to 1970s Los Angeles and slightly Americanize the dialogue. As for the rest, it's all basically the same: Sam Tyler chases serial killer, arrests Colin Raimes, has car accident, wakes up in 1970. Oh, except, this time around Annie is a full-on female detective, rather than a WPC in a skirt.

The project was meant originally for fall consideration but when the pilot for Life on Mars--which had only cast Rachelle Lefevre (Life on a Stick) as Annie--failed to cast the ever-crucial role of series lead, it was placed on hold until an appropriate Sam Tyler could be cast.

Cut several months forward to today, where ABC has announced that it has finally managed to find its lead for Life on Mars: Jason O'Mara, whom Monarch of the Glen fans will remember as Fergal.

O'Mara--who has also appeared in Band of Brothers, Men in Trees, In Justice, and The Closer--had most recently appeared in the pilot for Marlowe (expect a review of that failed pilot next week) and has a talent deal with ABC, the network behind Life on Mars.

Life on Mars' director Thomas Schlamme feels that O'Mara is the perfect choice to play the conflicted time-traveler (or madman) Sam Tyler. "When I read the script, the bad news was that in order for the project to work, we needed an actor who could play confident yet lost, forceful yet frightened, withdrawn yet available, and uncompromising yet funny," said Schlamme. "The good news is we got Jason O'Mara."

The pilot for Life on Mars will begin production on August 14th and is said to be under consideration for midseason. I'll be trying to get my greedy mitts on the completed pilot as soon as it goes through editing, so stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); 1 vs. 100 (NBC); WWE Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Kyle XY (ABC); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); George Lopez/George Lopez (ABC); Standoff (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: The Gil Mayo Mysteries on BBC America.

It's an all-new mystery series on BBC America starring Alistair McGowan (Bleak House) as Gil Mayo, a single dad and detective. On tonight's episode, Mayo and Alex bicker and the team solves a crime at Scissors Palace.


The CineManiac said…
I've only watched the first 2 or 3 episodes of the British version and can't wait to finish the first season and start on season 2.
I hope the American version will be good, but I hope they will have the smarts to keep it a limited series like the Brits have done.
Anonymous said…
I am intrigued again because I love Jason O'Mara.
Anonymous said…

Man vs. Wild started up again Friday night on the Discovery Channel.

Did you miss it?
Anonymous said…
Jason O'Mara and Rachelle Lefevre are great but I can't imagine this coming close to the original and brilliant Brit version of the show.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, but who plays the Gene Genie? That's how you know if this will stand or fall.
Anonymous said…
I'm skeptical about this. I love the original series and American remakes of British shows have been almost universal fail. I do like Kelley's original series but this project is pointless. There is a superb series already in existence with a mind-blowing cast. What else do you need? Or are they scared the American's won't understand the lingo? Will they leave in the sexism, racism and other realistic issues?
And why 1972 and not '73? Is that a lame attempt to be original?
They will also, no doubt, tame down the ending and make it all PC and snaggy. I would love to see the pilot and check out the acting. I don't know Jason O'Hara. I also don't envy him. Man has he got a tough act to follow.

Popular posts from this blog

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian

The Daily Beast: "How The Killing Went Wrong"

While the uproar over the U.S. version of The Killing has quieted, the show is still a pale imitation of the Danish series on which it is based. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "How The Killing Went Wrong," in which I look at how The Killing has handled itself during its second season, and compare it to the stunning and electrifying original Danish series, Forbrydelsen , on which it is based. (I recently watched all 20 episodes of Forbrydelsen over a few evenings.) The original is a mind-blowing and gut-wrenching work of genius. It’s not necessary to rehash the anger that followed in the wake of the conclusion last June of the first season of AMC’s mystery drama The Killing, based on Søren Sveistrup’s landmark Danish show Forbrydelsen, which follows the murder of a schoolgirl and its impact on the people whose lives the investigation touches upon. What followed were irate reviews, burnished with the “burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season