Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall Preview: Life

Life is a new police drama on NBC that I had heard virtually nothing about prior to watching the pilot. And I have to say, I was pretty impressed. The story centers around Charlie Crews (played by a magnetic Damian Lewis), a detective who served 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and is now exonerated and back on the force. Charlie is a complex and interesting character--he's rich thanks to a large court settlement, and he's got good reason to be pissed off at the police, but he's back on the force anyway, bringing a new Zen mindset and D'Onofrio-esque unpredictability to the job.

His philosophy seems to be based on living in the present and doing what gives him pleasure (big house, fancy car, beautiful women, pulling over his ex-wife's new husband for changing lanes without signaling). However, it appears there's more going on beneath the surface, particularly when it comes to the circumstances surrounding his framing and conviction, and the damage all those years in prison did to his psyche. Charlie's new partner on the force, a hot young recovering drug addict who may or may not be spying on him for the upper brass, serves as a good foil for his sometimes over-the-top behavior. I also love Adam Arkin's character, a white collar criminal who has taken over Charlie's finances after Charlie helped him out in prison.

The show's narrative style is an odd combination of normal dramatic storytelling and documentary-style interviews. It doesn't seem like the whole thing is supposed to be a documentary, so I wish the writers had been more clear in describing who was doing the interviews, and for what purpose. I also wish that Life were less of a crime procedural and more about the characters and the overarching plot, but maybe I'm just being pessimistic on that front based on the uninteresting case featured in the pilot. The whole "Wow, pictures on a cell phone? It's like I'm living in the future!" thing will hopefully wear off quickly--I mean, didn't they have television in prison, which presumably featured advertisements for these very devices?

All in all, though, this is definitely a show I'll be watching for at least a few more episodes, even though I'm not generally into the police genre. Charlie Crews has me very intrigued, I must say, and I'm not put off by the fact that the creators are clearly trying to capitalize off of the trend for...unusual...main characters started by House. I mean, hello, I love House! So if for some crazy reason you aren't watching Dirty Sexy Money on Wednesdays at 10, I suggest you check out Life, especially if you're looking for a good take on a procedural. Premieres September 26th, or you can see the pilot episode for yourself here on AOL TV.


debsagrrl said...

Thank you for your positive review of 'Life'. I enjoyed the premiere episode on yahoo and look forward to the series.

Thanks again!

P.S. Damian Lewis is hot, hot...

Liz said...

Yeah, it's definitely one to keep an eye on!