Worst Finale Ever?

No, I'm not talking about ER…I am talking about the bland American remake of the UK series LIFE ON MARS. The show was about a cop who is hit by a car…and wakes up in the 1970s. He's not sure whether he has gone back in time, whether he's imagining the whole thing,. or whether he is dead and experiencing the afterlife…or something else altogether. Throughout the series (which only ran 16 episodes in the UK) he is trying to get back to his own time by solving crimes which he believes will eventually lead him to the solution to his own predicament… and the way out.


In the British version, the hero discovers that he was in a coma and that his experience in the 1970s was all a dream. He returns to his "real" life in 2007 but just doesn't fit in any more. He has become so emotionally and psychologically attached to the people in his his fantasy life that he ends up committed suicide to return to that make-believe world. It was a dark way to end the show but, at the same time, it actually worked.

In the far inferior American version, the hero discovers that he isn't from 2009 either…he's an astronaut in the future who has spent the last two years in suspended animation on a mission to Mars… and that his experience in 2009 and 1973 was all a dream induced by some haywire computer program. All the "characters" in his dream turn out, Oz-like, to have been his fellow astronauts in different guises. It was inane… and done so cheaply that it looks like an SNL skit. It was probably one of the worst, if not THE worst, series finale I've ever seen.

7 thoughts on “Worst Finale Ever?”

  1. I knew what the BBC version was, and would have been furious if that was the case.
    At first I wasn’t thrilled with this one either, but the more I’ve thought about it over the last 12 hours, I’ve really grown to like it. I don’t think I would have liked it if it had lasted for more than a season, but for this length of a show, it worked.

  2. I disagree. I hated the end of the British version of Life on Mars. In my mind, it made Sam a pathetic loser. He’s rather live in his fantasy world rather than do the hard work of getting over it.
    It’s like saying hey, I’d rather be a drug addict than give up heroin. Being a junkie is more fun. That’s a position, not just one I’d like to spend time watching.
    Suicide isn’t dark in this case, it’s the act of a loser. Again, mileage may vary, but I didn’t like the fact that Sam ended up liking a world where casual racism, sexism and brutality was his preference. Again, Gene Hunt wasn’t evil, but he wasn’t anyone I’d likeas a cop.

  3. I agree…this finale episode was pretty lame, although I admit I really didn’t see it coming. The whole episode came across as a series with a definitive ending trying to cram that ending into one, last-ditch, all-out final episode. I especially found the “Wizard of Oz” parellels a cop-out. Couldn’t the writers have come up with something a little more original? It seemed as if I was watching a rejected episode of LOST.
    The only things I DID like about the resolution? First, I thought it was a nice way to reference the series’ title. And second, the commander of the NASA-like entity that sent them to Mars was named Frank Morgan. Frank Morgan was the name of the actor who played The Wizard in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Nice touch, but not enough to salvage my taste for a series in which I watched every episode hoping that it would end up being more clever. Oh, well…maybe THE UNUSUALS will be a worthy replacement.
    BTW, in last week’s episode of LIFE ON MARS, the Frank Morgan character (as a not-so-nice FBI agent) made a point of telling Sam Tyler, who remember is stuck in 1973, that he really liked Angie Dickenson in POLICE WOMAN, a series he claimed that he never missed watching. He might have had a difficult time watching POLICE WOMAN in 1973; it didn’t premiere until September 13, 1974. Even the pilot episode of POLICE WOMAN, which aired as an episode of POLICE STORY, didn’t air until March 26, 1974. Either the “psyche chip” implanted in Sam’s brain in 2035 was more defective than we thought, or the series’ writers didn’t do their pop-culture research very well.
    -Mark Little

  4. One minor point … in the British version it isn’t a revelation at the end that he was in a coma – it was the theory that Sam believed was likely from the very beginning.
    Having the hero commit suicide at the end because he didn’t like his perfectly good life is a TERRIBLE ending – I’m glad the American version avoided it.
    It could have been different – he could have used the 1970s attitudes (when Men were Men and Men were tough) he learned to help him in our wimpy era.
    In fact – that seems to be a marker of successful ‘dream’ episodes and stories .. the hero learns something from his dream that helps in his real life. But just committing suicide !!?

  5. I liked the UK version, and I didn’t feel that it was sad and pathetic. The whole point is just before he commits suicide he cut himself and didn’t even feel it. Nelson had said earlier on that what you feel is real, so to Sam his 1973 existence ended up being more real than 2006. He chose LIVING in 1973 over NOT in 2006.
    This US ending though is just too ridiculous for words…


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