Life on Mars is dead. Today Variety is reporting that ABC’s time traveling cop drama has been officially canceled by the network. However, there are glimmers of good news. Because the decision was made early, the show will be able to film a proper series finale as there are still five episodes left, and ABC plans to air them.
The show, based on a BBC series of the same name, follows Sam Tyler, a present day detective who is hit by a car and mysteriously wakes up in 1973. Why or now has remained the show’s central mystery. The show premiered on Thursdays after Grey’s Anatomy, but in January it was moved to Wednesdays following Lost. The first of the final five episodes airs tomorrow at 10pm on ABC.
Life on Mars received plenty of attention prior to coming to air with constant changes both behind and in front of the camera. However, the show premiered to mild critical success. As the show improved, a scheduling decision is what most likely led to its downfall.
The show aired its first seven episodes on Thursdays, slowly building up the show’s central mystery and ending with a pretty exciting and Lost-esque cliffhanger. Then ABC put the show on hold for more than two months with no reruns and very little promotion.
When the show returned after Lost in January, rather than addressing the ongoing cliffhanger, ABC reshuffled the episodes and instead aired a completely standalone episode, airing the actual conclusion to the cliffhanger the week after.
It was a huge slap in the face to all the die hard fans who waited patiently for closure. Life on Mars has frequently shown a bit of an identity crisis in that department. Half the time it’s a fascinating sci-fi mystery, and half the time it’s a typical procedural cop drama.
With just five episodes left, hopefully the writers will give fans all the answers they could possibly want. It’s a rare blessing for a show to get canceled but still have time to wrap up its storylines. If you don’t believe me, just ask the creators of Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money or Eli Stone.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of ABC)