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“Who remembers where they were ten years ago?”
“I’m pretty sure I do.”
Country: United States
Starring: Damian Lewis, Adam Arkin
Eye candy: Sarah Shahi, Christina Hendricks, Brooke Langton, Jennifer Siebel, tons of nameless babes
Creator: Rand Ravich
Run time: 7 hours, 56 minutes
I was sick this weekend. Very sick. For a long time, the box set of Life, Season One has been sitting on my coffee table because my buddy Christian wanted me to borrow it. He extolled the virtues of the show, and he’s one of those guys whose opinion I mostly trust when it comes to movies and TV. You know how sometimes you know people who, when they recommend something to you, you automatically steer clear of whatever it was they recommended? My mother-in-law is one of those people. As soon as she told me I must, must watch The Pink Panther 2, I quit listening entirely. But Christian, I trust.
And he was mostly right. Life is pretty good. It’s certainly not great, but I enjoyed it on a certain level. And because I was sick, and lying on the couch all weekend, I made it through all eight hours of Season One in a single sitting. The fact that it wasn’t totally painful is a testament to the show. Watching anything for eight hours, sick or not, is usually totally painful. I watch Brotherhood seasons and Sopranos seasons all the way through in one sitting, but that’s about it. Normally, Life would not have been one of those series. I guess that goes for most audiences too, because the show has recently been canceled before a third season could be aired.
The show is about a cop, Charlie Crews, who has spent 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His friend, the friend’s wife, and their young son were brutally and visciously murdered, and Crews was set up for the crime. Now that he has been exonerated, through DNA evidence, he gets released and receives a massive settlement in a lawsuit against the police department. As part of that settlement, he gets his old job back as well. So now he’s back on the police force, out of his depth in a lot of ways (cellphones, Google, IMs – times have changed in 12 years), and with a new Zen-based philosophy on life.
His “Zen” philosophy is really just an excuse to have Crews do some strange things. He isn’t really, in any way, following any “Zen” teachings. There is even an episode featuring the murder of a Zen master, just to drive the point home, and again the concept is not, in any way, fully developed. And it rarely makes sense. He also eats a lot of fruit, lives in a wide-open house with no furniture, sleeps with a ton of very hot women, and purchases an orange orchard, a big ol’ tractor, and a solar farm. Because now he’s very rich thanks to his settlement, orchestrated by his smoking hot lawyer Constance Griffiths (Brooke Langton).
There are intimations that maybe, and maybe not, Crews and Griffiths could have a relationship. But they never do, and it’s a pretty useless subplot. There is also a pretty useless subplot involving Crews’ new partner, Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi). She used to be a drug addict and alcoholic, something about being undercover and getting hooked and blah blah blah. We see her sleeping with random strange men in the first few episodes, just to drive the point home that she has a Dark Side and there are Big Problems in her head. Every now and then they pay lip service to these demons, and even do a whole episode about her AA meetings. But it’s all pretty useless.
Shahi, however, is not useless. In fact, she might be the Hottest Woman Alive, and she is a wonderful actress as well. I couldn’t tell during Rush Hour 3, because the movie was so putrid, but in Life she really gets a chance to shine, and I can’t take my eyes off her when she’s on the screen, even in her clunky policewoman’s uniform and there are a ton of other hot women around. And there are a ton of hot women, everywhere, in nearly every episode of this show. Yes, it’s gratuitous and slick and boobs for the sake of boobs, but I guess they figured hey, it worked for CSI: Miami. Sarah Shahi, I must say, may be the sexiest woman on the planet, but she is not gratuitous. Or useless.
Speaking of CSI: Miami, this show reminds me of that show quite a lot. Detective Crews is like David Caruso, only weird. He drives the fancy car. He is always immaculately put together. He is able to get information out of any suspect. He makes leaps in logic impossible for an ordinary man in order to solve crimes. And he often wears sunglasses. The only difference, really, is that he has his own subplot, and he says strange things like “no one can really be anywhere”. Or something like that.
Over the course of the first season, the subplot is mentioned only briefly in each episode, and while Crews continues to pursue the real killers of his friend and his family, other crimes take precedence. The first season does, however, wrap up in a fairly satisfactory way with a resolution in that case. There is also a cliffhanger leading into the next season, but I don’t much care whether I watch that or not. I enjoyed Life for a day, and if I get sick like that again and Season Two happens to be around, I would watch that too. But I wouldn’t go purchase it for that purpose.