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Life on Mars is a time travel television show. It follows the tale of Sam Tyler, a policeman who gets hit by a car. When he wakes, he notices that he has somehow jumped more than 30 years back in history. How or why he leaped backwards remains a mystery that drives the show. This willful ambiguity is shared by both the audience and Tyler, who is trying to figure out if he is dead, in a coma, has gone insane, or actually managed to really slip through time.

Life on Mars was originally produced for British television at a running time of 60 minutes per episode. John Simm played the role the of Tyler for the duration of the series. The program was jointly produced by BBC Wales, Kudos Film and Television, and Monastic productions. The creators of the show wrote the scripts for most of the episodes, and that included Chris Chibnal, Matthew Graham, and Ashley Pharoah. In the United Kingdom, it aired on two separate stations. The first season was broadcast on BBC1, but the second run on BBC4. Life on Mars ended after the second season. Critical reaction in the UK was largely positive for the first season. The finale of the second season sparked controversy.

The show had a brief life on American television as well. It only ran for one season on the network ABC. David E. Kelley made the initial pilot episode before passing the job off to others once the show was accepted. The show received critical acclaim, but it failed to keep viewers watching. This lead to its cancellation after only 17 episodes. BBC America also broadcast the two seasons original British version. The original has also ran in many other countries.

ABC
2 Seasons, 25 Episodes - Canceled
October 9, 2008
Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
7.5/10
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Life on Mars Full Episode Guide

  • Sam is woken in the middle of the night by Gene - drunk, and apparently having killed someone. While the evidence stacks up against Gene, Sam tries to prove his Guv's innocence, watched by DCI Frank Morgan from Hyde division.

  • Heroin has hit the streets of Manchester and Gene wants culprits. When investigating the murder of a Ugandan Asian man, Sam battles against the bigoted reaction of his DCI. His sympathy is further stirred by messages from Maya, his Asian girlfriend in 2007.

  • Sam feels strange - stranger than usual. Whilst trying to work out the cause of his vivid imaginings, he has to deal with an urgent investigation when a man tries to hang himself in A-division. Sam must shake the demons from his head to help a desperate family.

  • The body of a young woman is found in wasteland. The investigation takes the team to suburbia, where a local car dealer is throwing private parties, employing the make-up girls to 'help out' when the wife-swapping begins...

  • When a bomb warning is reported, A-Division goes on red alert. The IRA has begun its mainland bombing campaign. Now the terror has arrived - or has it?

  • With his mentor presiding over an armed robbery investigation, DCI Gene Hunt is keen to show off his team. And with his own (future) mentor working with the team as a lowly DC, Sam too tries to be at his best.

  • Despite eerie visions of 2006, DCI Sam Tyler remains in the 70s - where he encounters the young incarnation of a nasty villain Sam put away in 2006. He sees the chance every policeman dreams about: stopping the killer before he kills.

  • When Sam Tyler receives a phone call that presents him with three tasks he must perform so he can return to his life in the future, he must weigh his alternatives and decide whether to stay in 1973 or go home.

  • Ray and Chris are shot by a gang member. Because he has been working undercover as part of the gang, Sam becomes the lead suspect when the shooter is found dead near a bar. As the evidence works against him Sam begins searching for the real killer before it's too late.

  • When Sam goes undercover as a gang member, he has to reveal a dark side in order to keep his cover. While undercover, Sam is pushed to the limit when he is ordered to bind and shoot a woman.

  • When a Pan Atlantic air hostess is found dead, Annie volunteers to go undercover in order to solve a series of homicides. Annie, Sam and Ray, working undercover, are able to find an unlikely suspect.

  • When the Weather Underground sends the department bomb threats on the anniversary of their leader's death, Lt. Hunt takes the threats personally. As Sam, Annie and Lt. Hunt investigate, they soon find a connection between a student and Pat Olsen, a professor.

  • The detectives at the 125 investigate the murder of newspaper journalist Joey Conway. Sam is convinced the killer is the same criminal from a case in 2008. He is motivated by flashbacks to the case, which puts him at odds with his coworkers who think someone else is guilty.

  • NYC Councilman Bobby Prince shares a secret with Sam after Prince is caught with a hooker during a raid on a motel. The secret leaves Sam with even more questions as well as the realization he has more in common with Prince than he had ever thought. Meanwhile, Gene Hunt locks down the precinct after a shooting, Maria and her father confront each other, and Ray's wife, Denise, adds tension to the drama.

  • When rock star Sebastian Grace receives a death threat, Sam and Chris are exposed to the rock-and-roll lifestyle that includes one of Grace's groupies called "Rocket Girl." Things really get strange when Chris finds Sebastian and Rocket Girl waiting for UFOs in the swampy area of New Jersey known as the Meadowlands.

  • A mysterious phone call from a tipster leads Det. Sam Tyler to a headless body. A severed head is delivered to the precinct at the same time, thus leading to the discovery of a series of gruesome decapitations that might involve Det. Carling's brother, Eddie.

  • Lt. Hunt and the detectives compete with Lt. Nunzio and the 144th squad to solve a bank robbery, which appears to involve the Russian mafia.

  • Sam Tyler learns his father may be involved in the kidnapping of a prominent family's child. As Sam and the detectives investigate the case, he realizes he may have discovered why his father had left town in 1973. As buried memories of his childhood begin to surface, Sam believes he might have been sent back in time to help his father and to prevent him from leaving.

  • Sam Tyler encounters a young Fletcher Bellow, an officer Sam had considered to be his mentor in 2008. Although Bellow doesn't recognize Sam, they work with the other detectives in the precinct on a case in which an African-American girl had been thrown from a roof by a Puerto Rican.

  • Sam investigates the assault on a young woman by a local gangster, but realizes later that she is his mother. During the investigation, Sam discovers links to the murders of two other women that involve the local mob boss, and his own squad members may be involved in a cover-up.

  • Gene Hunt is outraged when a Vietnam vet is murdered, and he wants the case solved right away. During the investigation, Sam discovers some clues about his own past that might explain why he is back in 1973.

  • While still trying to figure out how and why he is in 1973, Sam finds himself in the middle of an investigation involving robbery-homicides at check-cashing stores.

  • Partners on and off the job, NYPD detectives Sam Tyler and Maya Daniels are close to catching murderer Colin Raimes. After Raimes is released on a flimsy alibi, Daniels decides to track him down without her partner and then goes missing. As Sam desperately searches for her, he is struck by a car and mysteriously wakes up 35 years earlier - in 1973.

Most Popular Life on Mars Episodes

  • Season 1 Episode 17 Life is a Rock 4/01/2009
  • Season 1 Episode 1 Out Here in the Fields 10/09/2008
  • Season 1 Episode 16 Everyone Knows It's Windy 3/25/2009
  • Season 2 Episode 8 Episode 8 4/10/2007

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