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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

the American faux ‘Life on Mars’ is cancelled

I kept trying to watch the American Life on Mars, even after I said I was giving up on it. But a few weeks ago I had to stop whatever dumb episode I was in the middle of because I simply could not bear it anymore, not even to have on in the background while I did other stuff. It was that stupid, and I was afraid I would do damage to my TV throwing something at it if I continued watching one second more.

And now comes this cheery news: The show has been cancelled:

Harvey Keitel, Jason O’Mara and Michael Imperioli’s U.S. sci-fi TV series Life On Mars has been cancelled – just five months after the show first aired.

The American programme, adapted from a popular British series of the same name, began airing in October, but has not seen the same success as its U.K. counterpart, which has won BAFTA and Emmy Awards.

The final episode is scheduled to air next month.

But wait! They’re still bringing the stupid:

ABC has given producers of Life on Mars an early notice that it won’t be renewing the show for next season, thereby giving them sufficient time to write and produce a definitive ending for the series, TVWeek reported Monday. “We felt it was the right thing to do for the producers and the fans and creatively,” ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson told the trade publication, which noted that by giving the series “closure”, it will enhance ABC’s ability to sell it on DVD and syndicated it to a cable network.

The fans. That’s cute.

Oh, but wait! What’s that I said almost a year ago, in May 2008?:

American TV is going to screw it up. Here’s the first way it’ll get ruined: LoM is only 16 episodes in its entirety, two seasons of eight episodes apiece. Sixteen perfect hours telling a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But American TV doesn’t know how to do that: 16 episodes isn’t even a full single season, and you can bet that David E. Kelley has a commitment from ABC to do five years, if the ratings are good enough to warrant it. Which means that the American version will start with an entirely different agenda, not to move Sam Tyler through his strange situation but to set him down in a situation that he cannot, by definition, ever get through, at least not until the tacked-on final episode when they realize they’d better wrap things up because the show’s about to be cancelled.

Kelley bowed out, but I was right about the rest of it. All those extra possibilities the American producers thought they were so clever about inventing to explain’s Sam’s predicament, so the show could go on and on forever? Ha. I bet they do what they’ve been doing all along: they’ll steal from the original, and their ending will still feel rushed, cheap, and tacked on.

Good news, though: the proper Life on Mars is finally coming to Region 1 DVD in July (it’s not yet available for preorder, but I’ll let you know when that happens).

More good news: After I wrap up my Torchwood blogging, which is nearing its end, I’m gonna jump into Life on Mars blogging. I can’t wait to watch it all over again.

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