Sunday, February 22, 2009

TV: Review- Life

The pilot of Life certainly led me down the wrong path. Damian Lewis, yet another Brit effecting an American accent, seemed the latest in a long-line of eagle-eyed detectives. First case and he's already calling attention to the dog and the clue it hides. Turns out Charlie Crews wasn't a super-sleuth, just a good detective with an intersting back-story. He'd been in jail, wrongly convicted. Now he was out, exonerated of the charges and back on a force, not completely happy to see his return.

There was nothing wrong with the intro of the peacefully blissed-out detective who chews fruits, quotes philosophers and solves crimes. Turned out though, the blissed-out guy was secretly hunting the true perps that landed him in jail for that crime he didn't commit. And thus, we had a pretty decent, strike-shortened first season of Life.

One of the big mysteries was how Life was going to continue on in this, its second season, given that Lewis' Crews basically solved the mystery of who did him the injustice of framing him. At least in broad strokes. Welllll, the producers solved the problem by basically slipping in a different show under the title banner this year.

For the better.

Last year was really all about Charlie. An interesting and complex character. He quips with the best, seems impervious to attacks of anger and has a steady turtle=like approach to solving crimes. He's still looking for all the answers to the conspiracy that sent him to jail for all those years. But he's REALLY not the sole focus of the show anymore. It's become an ensemble cop show.

Crews' partner, Dani Reese is played by stunner Sarah Shahi. And Reese is almost as complicated as Crews. Reese does more with less dialog than most actresses. She answers questions with a look that says it all in most circumstances. Fascinating really. Reese is a recovering alcoholic always skirting the edge of that problem. She's also co-habitating with the new captain of the Detective Squad, Captain Tidwell, played by Donal Logue. This is the same Donal Logue that starred as the womanizing lead in The Tao of Steve.

Donal Logue is everyman's hero. The tagline of The Tao of Steve was, "Why do women find this man irresistible?" How does HE end up winning the affection of the notorious hard-ass Reese? Have no idea, but it's fascinating to watch. And I really approve of the change over from the cliched captain-as-enemy character from the first year to this year's on-side Tidwell. Tidwell gets transplanted in from New York, ponytail and unshaven look and all. Let me tell, the scene where Reese saunters into the bedroom and proceeds to cut Tidwell's ponytail off, is as sexy as anything else I've seen on primetime TV this year.

And let me not forget Adam Arkin as Crews' friend and house mate, Ted Earley. At least when Earley isn't in prison. The prison scenes with Earley have been great this year. I'm not sad he's been sprung from the can on the bogus charge that put him back there. But it was fun while it lasted.

So, instead of a Crews-centric show, we now have a balanced look at an interesting life. Or four. And that makes for irresistable entertainment.

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