To no great surprise, ABC has opted not to order a second season of their Wednesday night drama, Life on Mars. The show was one of the most anticipated of the season. So, what happened? Will viewers be left hanging or will the show’s mysteries be resolved?
A remake of a UK show of the same name, Life on Mars follows Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) , a modern-day NYPD detective who’s investigating the abduction of his girlfriend (Lisa Bonet) by a serial killer. After being hit by a speeding car, Tyler wakes up in 1973. While trying to figure out what’s happened to him, he ends up becoming part of his precinct in the past. Is he in a coma, insane, or a true time traveler? The stand-out cast includes Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, Harvey Keitel, Jonathan Murphy, Dominick Mancino, John Cenatiempo, Chris Miskiewicz, Tom Stratford, Matthew Cowles, and Tanya Fischer.
The series debuted on October 9, 2008 to a solid 11.33 million viewers and a 3.8/10 rating/share in the 18-49 demographic. Unfortunately, the numbers fell significantly in the second week, to 8.22 million and a 2.5/7 — a loss of 25% of the total audience. The ratings for the next five episodes averaged just eight million, sinking to a low of 7.77 million and a 2.5/7 rating/share on November 20th.
Mars then went on a two month hiatus, which is essentially like a death sentence for any serial drama. As expected, when the series returned at the end of January, following Lost, the numbers got even worse. For the past four weeks, Mars has been averaging a terrible 5.5 million viewers, hitting a low of 4.63 million and a 1.6/4 rating/share.
As expected, ABC has decided to cancel the series at the end of its 17 episode season. On the positive side, it’s being reported that the producers have time to make that last episode an actual series finale. Though there are many outstanding questions that need to be answered, it looks like most of them will be answered. ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson told TVWeek, “We felt it was the right thing to do for the producers and the fans and creatively.”
Of course, whether ABC actually gets around to airing the episode remains to be seen. Considering that fans are still waiting to see the final episodes of Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies, the network’s track record isn’t so good.
For now, the plan is to continue airing the series though the March sweeps period, with Mars finishing on April 1st. Let’s hope that actually happens and it isn’t some twisted April Fool’s joke from the network execs.
Image courtesy ABC.