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On Setting 'Mars' in New York

July 16, 2008 2:48 PM

Life on Mars

'MARS' EXPEDITION TO NEW YORK (L-R) Josh Appelbaum, Jason O'Mara, Michael Imperioli and Andre Nemec talk about the show's New York setting.

ABC’s “Life on Mars,” originally a BBC 16-episode drama, has a storied past even before an episode airs.

“Mars” follows Sam Tyler, a police officer who finds himself in 1973.

Originally written and executive produced by David E. Kelley, who set the show in Los Angeles, “Mars” changed hands over to "October Road's" Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec after the first pilot was shot.

The show now has a new cast, save for Jason O’Mara who plays the lead, time-traveling detective Sam Tyler.

“Call it Irish luck,” he said.

The show is also set in New York. Why?

Mr. Nemec said it was a purely creative shift at first, with Mr. Appelbaum adding that the 1970s cop drama is synonymous with New York. Later, tax incentives made the move a fortuitous one, Mr. Nemec said.

In comparison to the BBC drama, Mr. Appelbaum and Mr. Nemec said they met with the original creators and asked to change the mythology of the show. The BBC's “Mars” had its main character in a coma, which explained why he thought he was in the 1970s. That is not the case here, Mr. Appelbaum said.

“Our only goal is to honor the BBC series,” Mr. Nemec said.

But, with the outrageous premise and changes from the original, “We know exactly where this is all going,” Mr. Appelbaum said.

Critics, however, sounded skeptical. “Yeah, yeah, yeah…” one critic replied to Mr. Appelbaum’s claim.

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