The short version is this:
Twenty-first century copper Sam Tyler (John Simm) is working a difficult case when he's hit by a car. He wakes in 1973 as a police officer transferred from Hyde to Manchester, where he grew up as a toddler. The story combines science-fantasy with the fish-out-of-water feeling as Sam tries to both fit in with the others and drag DCI Gene Hunt, the rough, tough, prejudice and quintessential 1970's Brit copper, into the 21st century.
They did two series of about 8 episodes each which is one of the things that makes it beautiful. The producers left you wanting more. Unlike Firefly, which was made stronger and more poignant by its cancellation, LoM was always planned to be 2 series long. It's an ending that enhances the beauty. With British TV seasons (series) so short, rarely going over 11 episodes, ideas don't get mined out as regularly as they do in the US and the ideas can stay fresher.
2 additional notes:
- The title comes from the David Bowie song playing on his car radio when Sam is hit by the car.
- John Simm is featured in the last 3 episodes of Doctor Who playing the Master. I got a chill yesterday watching him regenerate out of Derek Jacobi. Breathtaking episode.
Life on Mars: Time Travel Sequence
Life on Mars: Dead Ringer Parody
Life on Mars: Making
-- From: The Eternal Gaijin Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan "Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."