Life on Mars finale: Umm… sure, why not?

Posted by Dan April 7th, 2009 at 10:32am In General

life-mars-abc07Last week Life On Mars died a quiet death.  Like a mouse. Who was born without a larynx. In space.

The low-rated show was never necessarily a must-see — the supporting characters tended to be a bit one-note and all of the drama always felt a bit silly.  But it was pleasant and tolerable for the strong cast, the seventies style and the clever teasing of its time-traveling mystery.

I suppose the whole mystery of the series (why Detective Sam Tyler teleported to the seventies after being hit by a car in the present day) is what kept me — intermittently — watching. If this had been just another procedural, I can’t imagine I would have given it more than a obligatory pilot screening (hi there, Lie To Me!).

So the whole series ended during the show’s series finale last week, with the uncommon luxury of being able to wrap up the story — unlike, say, Pushing Daisies. And the end was safely ‘outside the box.’ All of the characters ended up being astronauts on their way to (guess where?) Mars during the year 2035, with Harvey Keitel’s character ending up being Sam Tyler’s dad and a brunette Gretchen Mol having a perhaps budding romance with him. The entire series was a bizarre dream that he experienced while in a deep sleep on the voyage to the Red Planet.

While I appreciate the high concept and the risk-taking, I suppose I am a little bit disappointed that the 2008 frame never got any sort of resolution (a romance with Lisa Bonet, a psycho killer on the loose). Although perhaps part of that was resolved on an episode I never watched.  Anyway, tra la!

The one part of the ending I could have done without was when the Ed Harris-y mission control guy said something about President Obama not being able to make it because SHE had to go visit her ill father in Chicago. I suppose I’m just leery of any bit of dialogue that just screams “ZING!”

For what it’s worth, this was a cleaner resolution than I had expected. Which is nice. It seems more upbeat than the original British series’ conclusion.


  • 1. Maggie  |  April 7th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I recorded this as well because it was on after Lost and I was vaguely curious. Days later I watched it (the internet, non-shockingly, was NOT full of next-day spoilers) and I have to say you’re taking this rather lightly. They end up on a SPACESHIP going to MARS??? What??? Hi, Harvey Keitel/Dad. Hi, coworkers. Let’s colonize Mars.


  • 2. Michael Rebain  |  April 7th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I like the finale and the spaceship revelation. I did not like the Obama reference because neither of the girls will be plausibly old enough to be president in 2035. Now, if they had made a reference to President CLINTON seeing her dying father, that would have worked, with both Chelsea and Bill the right ages.

  • 3. sara  |  April 7th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Yeah, Maggie, I spent the last ten minutes literally open-mouthed with shock. MARS? REAL MARS?! The fuck, y’all.

    Good point, Michael. Malia would just barely be eligible to run in 2035. My slack-jawed shock was such that I didn’t even do the math. I sure will miss Jason O’Mara, though. He’s foxy.

  • 4. Marisa  |  April 7th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve never seen a second of Life on Mars–but maybe they meant Michelle Obama? She’d be 70. But, by 2035, I’m assuming that people live to 120.

  • 5. Dan  |  April 8th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t know. I think my non-shock toward the finale stems from both the fact that:

    a) I didn’t really care.
    b) even though I’m historically awful at predicting what’s going to happen on shows, I figured that they’d pull something crazy out of their hat. It would inevitably been “D — none of the above.”


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