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Talk Back: ABC's "Life on Mars" Series Premiere

How many of you tuned in to watch the launch of ABC's Life on Mars last night?

Likely by now you've already read my original review of the pilot episode (back when David E. Kelley was the showrunner) from back in May as well as my review of the reshot pilot (under the direction of executive producers/showrunners Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Scott Rosenberg) but now you've had a chance to watch the premiere episode, with Jason O'Mara (Men in Trees) filling in for the original's John Simm as Detective Sam Tyler, who finds himself inexplicably stuck in 1973.

Is he in a coma? Has he traveled through time? Or is something else altogether going on here? It looks like the producers aren't revealing though they do say that Sam isn't necessarily in a coma, which was a given fact of the original BBC series.

But I am curious to see what everyone thought of Life on Mars' premiere episode ("Out Here in the Fields"), both those of you who are fans of the original and newbies coming to ABC's version without any preconceived notions. Did you like O'Mara as Sam Tyler? Were you totally engrossed by Lisa Bonet? Are you in awe of Harvey Keitel? Or do you think Philip Glenister does Gene Hunt better?

Talk back here.


Anonymous said…
If you haven't seen the original, this is a decent show. Good cast. Interesting premise. But for those of us who have seen (and loved) the original, the US version really can't compare...especially if they end up following the same storylines beat for beat. They'd have to take it in a new, original direction for me to really be interested.
R.A. Porter said…
I turned it off at teaser-out. The gratuitous shot of the WTC, intended to shock the audience, just nauseated me. I stopped my Tivo.

Had they held back, shown us Sam's struggle to make sense of his situation and his anxiety about getting back to save Maya, and then dropped the image of the towers as the act 4-out (as it was ABC, I'm assuming a five act structure) I'd have been okay. They would have earned it.

They earned nothing from me after the teaser.

Here are my fuller thoughts.
Anonymous said…
I have to say that I agree with R.A. Porter. The shot of the World Trade Center was completely gratuitous and not at all earned. It frankly made me sick to my stomach to see that and was completely unnecessary to the story to have Sam see the towers like that. I won't be watching again and ABC should be ashamed of themselves for showing that.
Anonymous said…
There's a point to bringing BBC greats to America, and it has to do with American TV frequently being gratuitous, crass, poorly acted, poorly written, in your face and as subtle as a skunk. Why quit now? ABC's Life on Mars is but a campy spoof of the original.

Give it a pass and go watch a REAL talented actor play Sam on BBC America. It looks like ABC saw a show with Chemistry in Life on Mars, but had no idea what really made it great. Consequently, their remake left ME and my husband both completely flat. There was no reason to remake this when they are copying the dialogue line for line with MUCH lessor actors.

Shame on you ABC.
Anonymous said…
I love the original Brit series, and the American version didn't do it for me at all. Jason O'Mara lacks the intensity needed for Sam Tyler in my opinion. Keitel is too old and makes for a mild Gene Hunt, which is probably in part due to American censors. Gretchen Mol was entirely unsympathetic and uninteresting. Also, I have no doubt in my mind that the show is going to be stretched to its thinnest limits by ABC, and they'll eventually lose what little steam they do have in exchange for more money. This, like, other American shows will lose its point and go into an unnecessary number of seasons if it gets the ratings it needs, so by the time they do end it, no one will care anymore.

The World Trade Center thing didn't bother me because of its shock value. What did bother me is the fact that I'm pretty sure they hadn't completed construction on it in 1973. Um...WTF?
Anonymous said…
@Emleigh. If you bothered to do a quick Wikipedia search you'd see that the ribbon cutting ceremony was held on April 4, 1973 so you're wrong! I liked the episode but I've never seen the British one.
Anonymous said…
@Ari. Fair enough that I'm wrong. I brought it up as a secondary issue and preceded it with "I thought" because I did only get my info from someone who was living there at the time of construction. If I had researched it before I decided to post a comment, which I should have, I'd have probably found something more reliable than Wiki to support my facts. Otherwise, again, fair enough.
Anonymous said…
This was much better than the pre-air screener which was dull and flat. I think moving the show to NYC and replacing most of the cast was the right decision. I wasn't too impressed with Jason O'Mara the first time around but with a better cast he's a better actor.
For the record, I've seen and adore the original BBC version.
Anonymous said…
"It looks like the producers aren't revealing though they do say that Sam isn't necessarily in a coma, which was a given fact of the original BBC series."

The producers may say that, but this only provides further proof that they didn't really understand their source material.

And while I see what they were trying to do, making the beginning more like an episode of CSI or something, identical twins? Really?

A very different feel to the BBC version, which was to be expected, but that feel had been what dragged me in to the original. I'd recommend the original to anyone, as it appeals on so many levels; I think I'd only recommend this version to people who were really in to CSI.
TxGowan said…
It left me unimpressed. I wasn't bothered by the shot of the Towers. The whole show just seemed kind of flat to me. I like Gretchen Mol and I have liked Jason Mara in other roles, but Harvey Keitel just felt out of place.

I'll give the show a shot, though. Maybe like other adaptations that have worked, it'll just take a few episodes to find its legs.
Anonymous said…
I live in NYC and had no problem with the WTC shot. I thought it was good use of them actually. What would be the most shocking thing to see as a NYer post 9/11? Tats up there on my list. I dont get why people have a problem with it.
I have never seen the BBC version, but I did some marketing on the ABC series and really stand behind it. i think the show is great and the cast is outstanding!
R.A. Porter said…
@leah, I can't speak for anyone else, but if you'd read my comment closely, you'd have seen my problem was that the producers used the shot of the WTC as a cheap shortcut to generate emotion.

Had they had even the ounce of skill the guys producing Knight Rider have, they'd have earned the right by pushing Sam around for the first four acts and then had a powerful act-out for 4. But they made the laziest possible choice instead.

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