The 125 shuts its doors: ABC cancels its smartest new show

By Amy Ledig

This week, I had a perfectly nice Tuesday afternoon ruined by the news that my new least favorite network was cancelling “Life on Mars,” my favorite new show. Thanks, ABC. While, unlike it did with “Dirty Sexy Money,” the network will air the remainder of the season, allowing the viewers closure, reading the news in the Ausiello Files (the source of all serious news, move over New York Times) made me realize just how attached I had gotten to the show.I’m not going to lie, I was pretty suspicious when the show first hit the scene. I may have found a corner in my heart for Horatio Caine and his squad of CSIs, but did I really have enough room for another police procedural? Plus, did I want to waste even a second of my time in Chile watching a show I wasn’t already invested in? The answer was no. Once I came home for the world’s longest winter break, though, I had plenty of time to readapt to the English language through quality time spent with my TiVo, and I decided to give the boys of the 125 a chance. One episode in, I was a goner.

In case you, apparently like much of America, has been ignoring this terrific show until now, let’s get you caught up. “Life on Mars” is another in long line of American copies of British shows. Critics say the original is vastly superior, but I can’t bring myself to care. Sam Tyler, a New York City detective, gets hit by a car while chasing after a serial killer who kidnapped his girlfriend, also a cop, and is transported to New York City in 1973. He winds up working at the precinct in the same building as his, just 35 years earlier. His colleagues include Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel, the truly old-school captain of the precinct, Ray (Michael Imperioli), a traditionalist who finds his path moving up the ladder blocked by Sam’s sudden appearance, Chris (Jonathan Murphy), the young and idealistic new addition to the bunch, and Annie (Gretchen Mol), who is adorable as a trailblazing female on the force.

They are my favorite cast on TV right now. The interactions between Sam and his new colleagues, whose use a unique brand of almost vigilante policing and have never heard of DNA?testing, make the show, particularly when it’s Gene and Sam mixing it up. The music is terrific, and I’ve rediscovered a love for early ’70s rock. My dad, who grew up in New York, has given the show his seal of approval for authenticity, and they truly have done a great job of transporting us back in time.

I’ll be tuning in to catch the last few episodes, wishing there was more. “Life on Mars” is so smart, so well done, that I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive ABC for replacing it with whatever new reality drivel they come up with. I know they’re cheaper and everyone’s looking after their bottom line these days, but I wish we could have kept the best escape on TV these days.