In Depth

ABC Gives 'Life on Mars' a Finale

ABC is giving fans of "Life on Mars" some closure.

The network has told producers that it won't be ordering any additional episodes beyond the 17 currently in the works for this season. But rather than play the usual "Let's-wait-until-May-before-we-make-a-decision" game regarding the fate of "Mars," ABC brass have admitted to producers that they won't be ordering another season of the show.

That means that, rather than letting "Mars" drift away with no resolution, producers will be able to write and film a definitive ending to the saga. Production is expected to continue for at least a few more weeks, with the finale expected to air no later than early April.

"We felt it was the right thing to do for the producers and the fans and creatively," ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson told TelevisionWeek.

ABC took heat from critics and loyal fans for the abrupt endings to its well-regarded dramas "Eli Stone" and "Dirty Sexy Money" last year. By giving "Mars" a chance to complete its mission, the network is hoping to avoid any similar "controversy."

What's more, the U.S. "Mars" now will end up more closely resembling its British predecessor, which lasted for 16 episodes and also was a close-ended series. While the British series spawned a sequel of sorts, dubbed "Ashes to Ashes," no such plans are in the works Stateside.

Ensuring a definitive ending for "Mars" might also make it easier to promote the show's 17-episode run as a DVD release or, possibly, on a cable network should the series land an off-net run.

Mr. McPherson admitted the ratings for "Mars" were the main reason behind the decision to convert the show from a regular series into, in essence, a close-ended "event."

He has no regrets with how "Mars" is going out, however.

"I look at it creatively, and I couldn't be prouder," he said.

Jason O'Mara stars in "Mars." Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg are among the executive producers of the project, which is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and ABC Studios in association with Kudos.