Fear not, Life on Mars fans: The producers behind ABC’s take on the

beloved British cop drama swear that being a detective in 1973 New York is just

as interesting (if not more so!) than tracking perps in Manchester 35 years

ago. In fact, when Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (late of October Road,

but also of Alias) took the remake over from uber-producer David E.

Kelley, their first move was to change the stateside setting from L.A. to New

York. “When you think of the early ’70s cop genre, you think of New York”

Appelbaum explained to the crowd at ABC’s Television Critics Association press

tour. The new producers also gutted the entire cast, save for star Jason O’Mara

(Grey’s Anatomy, Men in Trees) — who plays Sam Tyler, the

circa-2008 cop who finds himself hurled back three-plus decades after a blow to

the head. Thus Michael Imperioli is now on board as Ray Carling, a detective

who clashes with Sam. (And the rest of the players have yet to be cast; even

seemingly pitch-perfect Colm Meaney as Sam’s ornery boss Gene Hunt is being


Appelbaum and Nemec feel confident they can sustain the show — despite the

complicated time-shifting construct — over several seasons, even though the

Brits wrapped it up in 16 episodes. Mainly, they said, because the end game won’t

be the same: Though Sam will still get “dispatches from 2008” — in

the English version, he frequently heard voices from his present-day hospital

room as he lay in a coma — producers said there are “many other options”

besides Sam being simply in a dream state or crazy. “In our second

episode,” Appelbaum said, “Sam writes up 13 options that it could be.”

He declined to elaborate much on those, but he added, “it’s not a

time-travel show.” Let the obsessive blogging begin…before the pilot’s

even shot.