October Road: Cancelled ABC TV Show Kept Alive Through Life on Mars

October Road and Life on MarsThough October Road was cancelled last May, the show lives on in the memories of its fans, cast and crew. While devoted viewers await news of the promised conclusion to the fallen ABC TV show, the show’s writers are keeping the Road world alive — and killing some of the characters along the way — through their current ABC series, Life on Mars.

October Road follows the life of Nick Garrett (Bryan Greenberg), a young writer who left his Massachusetts life behind to author a best-selling book about his hometown. When he gets a bad case of writer’s block, he makes the difficult decision to return home to face his family and friends. The Knights Ridge residents are played by actors like Laura Prepon, Brad William Henke, Geoff Stults, Tom Berenger, Jay Paulson, Evan Jones, Warren Christie, Slade Pearce, Odette Yustman, Rebecca Field, Jonathan Murphy, Lindy Booth, Elizabeth Bogush, and Penny Johnson.

ABC’s Life on Mars tells a very different tale. In 2008, NYPD homicide detective Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) is hit by a car and awakens in 1973. As he tries to figure out what has happened to him, Sam encounters people and places that are familiar to him and parallel his life in our time. The cast includes Tom Stratford, Michael Imperiol, Gretchen Mol, Jonathan Murphy, Harvey Keitel, John Cenatiempo, Tanya Fischer, and Lisa Bonet.

Mars is based on a British show of the same name and is executive produced by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Scott Rosenberg, the producers of October Road. The trio went directly from one ABC series to another but haven’t forgotten their roots. They’ve been slyly sneaking Road references into Mars.

To start, some of the faces are certainly familiar ones. Murphy, who played Ronnie on Road, plays Detective Chris Skelton. Murphy recently told TV Guide that he enjoys working for his former bosses again, “I assume they liked what I did on October Road and they saw something in me that could be in this character. They were nice enough to give me a shot and let me come in and show them what I could do with it and I think they believed in me. We were all sad that October Road got canceled and it’s nice to be with familiar faces.”

Other familiar faces include Henke and Yustman — previously known as Owen Rowan and Aubrey from Knights Bridge.

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There are also lots of visual references. In the pilot for example, you can see a group of tenements called the “Cataldo Houses,” an allusion to Road’s villainous builder, Ray “Big Cat” Cataldo (Warren Christie). Appelbaum told B&C, “In our minds, we are living in one creative universe where Knights Bridge, Mass., does live in the same world as Life on Mars.”

Appelbaum says that there are plans to use the names of many other Road characters in upcoming episodes, either as crime suspects or victims. The exec producer joked, “Somehow in 1973 New York, the members of 2008 Knights Ridge are dying in bulk… We’re doing a loving burial for October Road by killing off some of these people in Life on Mars.”

The team of producers have previously put a few nods to Road into last summer’s Samurai Girl mini-series on ABC Family. Girl stars Road guest Stacy Keibler and Christie has a smaller role. The most overt reference came when a character named Otto wore a t-shirt that read “I’m Sam’s Father” — a reference to Road’s long-running paternity mystery. The producers considered using the same joke in Mars but decided against it because the main character’s first name is Sam.

Applebaum wants to assure viewers that the allusions won’t be carried too far. “Life on Mars does deserve its own reality. We would never do something that is too overt, that would jump out as a fan of Life on Mars. But it is always fun to put in stuff that fans of October Road could notice and say, ‘That’s cool.'” Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

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11 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Jeanette Amann says

    I just watched both seasons of October Road and absolutely fell in love with it. I couldn’t wait to get to the next episodes. I am so disappointed that the show was cancelled after only two seasons. I have to say it was one of my favorite shows. Actors and storyline were great. This show made me laugh, cry and learn some good lessons about life.

  2. Cheryl Lynn Tew says

    Really miss October road, and you guys left us hanging. Now ABC has crap on, bring back the good stuff…. October road

  3. Donna says

    cant believe this show was cancelled , seems like all the good shows are cancelled and they keep the dumb crap on , didn’t even finish the story , would love to see this show come back and go on for a long time , same with Jericho & Fringe ……………

  4. DC says

    I was speaking with about 10 friends at a restaurant the other night. We were talking about all the good shows that get cancelled each year. After all of these years, October Road came up. Big mistake cancelling this one. One of the good shows lost forever to add to the hugh collection of shows being cancelled the last 10 years. Seems the networks just continue to cancel over and over numerous shows yearly and keep so many bad shows and so many of the reality shows that no one cares about. Remember, the young are out most of the time, not watching TV. The older crowds are the ones that aremhome more often.
    The networks need to think about this. When you lose us, there will be no need for TV.

  5. lisa anaya says

    Bring back Ocobter Road. You where stupid to cancelled the show. And then you cancelled it and didn’t tell all the story. Writers are so stupid. Finish the story line if not a season then a mini series to explain what happens. Let me know if you need help. I got lots of ideas.

  6. Tracey Lakin says

    Please let me know if / when the conclusion of October Road is aired, I really enjoyed the series but as it was on late, do not want to miss any episodes if it come back on, please also let me know if the series is going to be repeated

  7. Terry says

    I am very disappointed to hear that Life On Mars is being cancelled.
    When I first heard about the premise of the show, I didn’t think that I would be interested, but the characters and the story lines are terrific. I really wish that ABC would reconsider or that another network would pick up the show.

  8. Rosie says

    Life on Mars is by far the best show on television in so many years. I cannot remember ever wanting to be at home & awake to see a weekly scheduled program. I’m a very early riser. If I happen to grow tired, I watch it again online. There are also so many people that I have told about this show.

    Life on Mars is like Law & Order with hints of Quantum Leap. The actors are very believable in their characters and the writing is incredibly thought provoking. The sets and clothing are incredible as is the music. Wow!

    Please do not take away this show from the THINKING segment of the tv viewing audience….please.

    Florida by way of NASA

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