The 1973 adventures of Detective Chief Inspector Sam Tyler (John Simm) came to a close in this second season of Life on Mars. Although it could be argued that the show could have gone on for a third season, Simm wanted out. Given the plotline, perhaps the show should have been produced as a mini-series instead.
The basics of the show are simple to follow:
Sam Tyler, searching for his missing girlfriend while investigating a murder case in 2006, is hit by a car and sent back to 1973. As opposed to being the head of his own department as he is in his 2006 timeline, he is now a mere Detective Inspector working under a reckless thug of a captain named Gene Hunt (Phillip Glenister). The team in addition to Tyler that works under Hunt is a ragtag bunch of misfits in their own individual ways.
DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) is essentially Gene Hunt, Jr and follows in his boss's footsteps by often clashing with Tyler. Tyler's differences with Carling are grounded in the fact that in the first series Carling was demoted to Detective Constable for forcing cocaine down a drug dealer's throat while the dealer was in police custody.
DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster) is the eager but naive member of the team. While Ray is loyal to Gene 100 percent, Chris shares a dual loyalty between Gene and Sam. Tyler sometimes asks Chris to do some research on cases, giving him more of a role on the team than he normally might have.
WDC Annie Cartwright (Liz White) is the lone female on the team. She's more on a middle ground than the rest. While she's more reserved than the others, she can hold her own and ease the soul of Sam Tyler during one of their usual "I hate 1973" conversations. Their relationship grows closer in the second season.
The individual plots, apart from the thread of Tyler's attempts to return to 2006, are as solid as ever. Future Waterloo Road cast member Eva Pope makes a guest appearance in an episode where the team investigates a death connected to a swingers' club. Marc Warren, who seems to have a face that screams "I'm a bad guy," guest stars in another episode as a gangster who in Sam's time is trying to kill him.