First Impression: Life on Mars

Is OCN having Tunnel addiction??

Main cast:

  • Jung Kyoung-ho (from Prison Playbook) as Detective Han Tae-joo. He time travels from present day to 1988 after being shot in the head by an accomplice of a serial murderer.
  • Park Sung-woong (from Hidden Identity) as Team leader Kang Dong-cheol. He heads the violent crime unit in 1988 in a police station in a small city. (and did he put on weight???)
  • Ko Ah-sung as Police constable Yoon Na-young. The “tea lady” of the violent crimes unit (well…women who find themselves working in the past in a male dominated environment usually ends up like that)
  • Oh Dae-hwan (from Mad Dog) as Detective Lee Yong-ki, the hothead in Dong-cheol’s team.
  • Noh Jong-hyun as maknae Detective Jo Nam-sik.


Tae-joo (in the current timeframe) isn’t the most well-liked officer. He got kicked out of violent crime team cos of his persistence to one-up his colleagues (but we get the feeling that he is right..just that he went about doing it the wrong way). So Tae-joo gets transferred to working backend, as a forensic investigator.

His ex- (or maybe not) girlfriend, Seo-hyun, works as a prosecutor. She seeks Tae-joo’s help to nail a serial murderer, who has a tendency to make up his victims’ bodies and paint their nails fiery red. The duo almost nailed him, until Tae-joo receives a call that one of the evidence is corrupted, and so the murderer gets away.

That same night, Seo-hyun goes missing. Tae-joo suspects that she has fallen prey to the murderer, and he was right. The last call Seo-hyun made to him was to inform him that some evidence in the case had been tampered with by someone “higher up”.

Tae-joo goes after the murderer, only to be shot in his head by a mysterious accomplice (methinks is the new police officer sent to “help” Seo-hyun). Strangely, Tae-joo wakes up in 1988. Disoriented, he thought he was dreaming as he assumes the role of “Tae-joo”, the transferred detective from Seoul, in a small town police unit.


Mars really smells so much like Tunnel, only in the reverse. Instead of a detective from the past travelling to the current (future), and getting all impressed with modern tech and advances in criminal forensics, we have a detective going back to an era where forensics is unheard of.

But maybe Tae-joo can pull some rabbits out of the hat in 1988, given that he IS a forensics officer in the present day. And while the machines may not be so hi-tech (or even in existence), the basic foundation of piecing clues together via blood, skin and cell samples left on the crime scene remain largely the same. (plus, let’s not forget Chemistry…the laws of Science work both in the past and present…it’s only HOW we arrive at the “discovery”)

Similar to Tunnel, Tae-joo probably also has a criminal who can flit back and forth between past and present, and uses the wormhole to create mischief in both time-spaces. Which then leads me to the next question: given the strong similarities between the 2 OCN shows, was Tunnel a plagiarised copy of Mars? (whose origin is a BBC show in the early 2000s)

2 thoughts on “First Impression: Life on Mars

Add yours

  1. The original BBC Show is one of my all time favourite shows. That being said, it’s sequel Ashes to Ashes (just to carry on the David Bowie theme) had the most amazing and original conclusion to any show that explained the whole premise of what was really going on. If you understand ancient Egyptian mythology and approaches to death, you will know exactly what I am referring to.

    Tunnel wasn’t necessarily plagiarising Life on Mars, but it certainly was using a number of influences. I’m not sure if I will what this version, but you never know (because the American remake was pretty woeful in my view).

  2. I don’t think Tunnel is inspired by the series Life on Mars. Tunnel’s plot is a predestination paradox (causal loop) and it was very clearly a time-travel story while the original Mars series’ main subplot was the ambiguity if there is even a time-travel or the lead was just dreaming or something.

    Although they do share the similarities of being a police procedural and the contrasting relationship between the main leads.

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