Michael Imperioli explores 'Life on Mars'

Signs on to play a police detective lost in time

"The Sopranos" alum Michael Imperioli is returning to series television as co-star of ABC's new drama "Life on Mars."

Based on the BBC series, "Life" centers on Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara), a modern-day police detective who, after a car crash, finds himself mysteriously transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective.

Imperioli will play Detective Ray Carling, a colleague of Sam's in 1972. He is a rough, tough sexist who has never heard the phrase "politically correct."

The casting of Imperioli is part of the revamping of the project after the departure of David E. Kelley, who penned the original pilot for ABC.

"Life," from 20th Century Fox TV, ABC Studios and Kudos, is executive produced by new writers/showrunners Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg as well as Jane Featherstone and Stephen Garrett.

The series, which will be filmed in New York, is slated to air in the post-"Grey's Anatomy" slot at 10 p.m. Thursdays in the fall.

"Mars" extends Imperioli's relationship with ABC. In December, he starred in the network's telefilm "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom's for One More Day."

Imperioli, repped by UTA and TMT Management, won an Emmy for his role as troubled mobster/aspiring filmmaker Christopher Moltisanti on HBO's "Sopranos."