Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pilot Review: Life on Mars

Life on Mars (ABC)
Premiered October 9 at 10pm

This is one of those shows where the pilot may not really be a good indicator of how the show will turn out to be. It's very much a setup episode, as heavily touted by the mounds of previews aired before this pilot. I'm fairly certain that I need to give this show a second chance before truly deciding how I feel about it. Jason O'Mara is a strong actor (I really liked him in his recent guest spot as the creepy pyromaniac on "The Closer"), and he'll do a good job of carrying this show. The main problem is that this show may drown in its constant references to all the differences between then and now, like "sell what" and countless others. Once Sam Tyler accepts that's he stuck in the past, this show can go far. Harvey Keitel's a bit ridiculous, but he's funny, and Michael Imperioli should probably shave his mustache soon. I really liked Gretchen Mol, whose disappearing act speech was the high point of the episode.

How will it work as a series? Like a lot of other shows premiering these days, this show is based on a successful British series and therefore has that precedent. As I said, if it lets go of the need to stress differences between 1973 and 2008, I think it should be alright. More thoughts last week.
How long will it last? ABC seems remarkably invested in some of its shows, and I feel like they will stick by this one. Unless it plummets eventually in the ratings, like "Commander-in-Chief," it should do well and may even get a second season like "October Road" or "Notes from the Underbelly." A good time slot and a much better plot than "Big Shots" should take it far.

Pilot grade: C+

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