TV Detail: Life on Mars review—series premiere on ABC

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Life on MarsMad MenLife on Mars

In ABC's version, Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara) is a 2008 detective with the NYPD, transported back to 1973, where the Twin Towers stand tall over the skyline. The location and a bigger budget are among the few changes. As Tyler wanders the streets of New York, he says, "My mind can only invent so much, so I'm going to walk until I can't think up any more streets or faces or arguments. Details, there are only so many details."

But the details are endless, from the buildings, the cars, the advertisements, the fonts and the the clothes and hairstyles of the many, many extras. It's fun little trip back to a time when things like warrants and lawyers were unnecessary niceties. Just unusual enough for sci-fi geeks like me and plenty of crime-solving for the procedural fans. Plus, Harvey Keitel plays the police chief.

Back in Manchester, the show wrapped a tight storyline into two seasons. It'll be interesting to see if, like The Office, the Americanized version uses the original plot as a baseline to add its own flavor. But if it doesn't cut through the overcrowded mass of cop shows, it'll never get the chance.