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Life: Season One

Universal // Unrated // September 2, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted September 8, 2008 | E-mail the Author



The First Season


Life is a police drama about Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Charlie Crews, who was wrongfully convicted of murder, and return his to duty. The series first aired in fall 2007 on NBC. It was one of the many shows interrupted by the Writer's Guild strike; the first season is made up of eleven episodes. For the most part, Life is an interesting drama. It has a generic undertone and many common elements to standard police procedural dramas. Typically, the two main detectives work and solve a case. However, there are a couple elements that help keep it unique and interesting. First, Crews is a very fun and likeable character. His personality and interaction with the other characters is a strong aspect of the show. Second, the story arc about Crews' side investigation to his wrongful conviction is intriguing. All in all, Life has many common elements to police procedural dramas, but it has enough original content to keep it interesting.


The main character in Life is Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis). He was imprisoned for life after being wrongfully convicted the brutal murder of a family. After twelve years in prison, Crews was released. New developments in the case revealed no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene. He was exonerated and given a large financial settlement. While Crews has more money than he can spend, he still has his integrity and returns to the police force to continue working as a police detective. Despite being exonerated, the LAPD wants him off the force. They are looking for reasons to give him the boot without violating the settlement.


Joining Crews as his new partner is Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi). She is a tough cop with her own problems. While deep undercover, she picked up a nasty drug habit and has not been able to fully recover. Since, her career has been spiraling nowhere good. Lieutenant Karen Davis (Robin Weigert) partnered her with Crews for a reason. She want Reese to find a valid reason to dump Crews. At first, Reese has no appreciation for Crews and is willing to rat him out. After working with him, she learns to appreciate his unique perspective and odd way of solving cases.


Some other important characters in the show include Ted Earley (Adam Arkin) and Constance Griffiths (Brooke Langton). Early is not a major character, but he plays an important role. He was in jail at the same time as Crews. Crews hired him to manage all of his money. They have an interesting relationship, which is comical at times. Griffiths is Crews' attorney. She is the one who got him exonerated. Her relationship with Crews is very emotional, yet complicated. Her role is also minor, but important. There is also Bobby Starks (Brent Sexton), Crews' former partner, Jennifer Conover (Jennifer Siebel), Crews' ex-wife, and Olivia (Christina Hendricks), Crews' father's fiancee.


As earlier mentioned, the cases and the plotlines that Crews and Reese take on can be somewhat generic. There is nothing really special about them and alone they are not enough to make Life worth watching. The main character Charlie Crews is what really makes Life successful. This character is played out well by actor Damian Lewis. He gives his character an intricate and likeable personality. Having been wrongfully imprisoned for twelve years, he has a very different perspective on life than his peers, which is detailed in his many Zen-like quips. It is also interesting to see how his peers (such as Reese) react to his personality. The other real interesting aspect to Life is the story arc about Crews' conviction. Each episode reveals small details about what really happened as Crews pieces things together.


Overall, Life is a solid drama. While it is not what I would consider topnotch, must-see television, there is enough great content to make it a worth the time and the money. The lead actor Damian Lewis is fantastic in his role as Charlie Crews and gives the show a unique edge. The only concern is how well his character will hold up in the coming seasons. His quirky personality has the potential to get redundant. Nevertheless, Life's first season is fun and interesting.





Episode Guide


1. Merit Badge
: After 12 years of prison time for a crime he didn't commit, detective Charlie Crews rejoins the force and stuns his co-workers with his unconventional techniques.


2. Tear Asunder
: Til death takes on new significance when Crews and Reese search for the killer of a newly wed bride, and Crews revisits the crime that landed him in prison.


3. Let Her Go
: Crews and Reese put the brakes on their investigation when a victim refuses to identify the suspected killer after a seemingly by-the-book carjacking homicide.


4. What They Saw
: Nosy neighbors go to new extremes when Crews and Reese interview them about a disturbing murder that occurred on their street.


5. The Fallen Woman
: A woman wearing angel wings plummets from a window, and the man who claims to be her husband tells Crews that the ringleader of a scam should be the one who takes the fall for her death.


6. Powerless
: During one of her AA meetings, Reese overhears what she thinks is a rape confession, but her unrelenting look into the crime leads her into a dangerous standoff.


7. A Civil War
: When two Persian Americans are killed and a third is kidnapped, Crews and Reese investigate what they believe is a hate crime, but it develops into something more sinister than anyone could have imagined.


8. Farthingale
: The numbers just don't add up when Crews and Reese investigate a gas explosion that vaporized half of a man who had been leading a double life.


9. Serious Control Issues
: Crews and Reese look into the death of a runaway teen found clutching her guitar, but the jarring scene leads them to yet another crime from twelve years earlier.


10. Dig a Hole
: While Crews and Reese investigate the death of a Zen master who was buried alive, Crews discovers evidence that his partner's father may have been involved in the crime that condemned Crews to prison.


11. Fill It Up
: The murder weapon is missing from the site where a wife killed her husband, but Crews leave Reese at the scene and hunts the man who may have been responsible for his imprisonment.





The DVD


Video:

The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The quality is good and offers a fairly sharp and clean picture. There is a grain and minor compression artifacts. There are also some hints of edge enhancement, but there is nothing that should interfere with your viewing experience.


Audio:

The audio track in this release is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround. In general, the sound quality is good and it provides an audible and clean track. The dialogue is usually a little flat while music and sound effects come off rich and vibrant. Additionally the 5.1 track is dynamic and makes good use of the surround sound capability. The DVD includes English subtitles.


Extras:



  • Audio Commentaries: "Merit Badge" with Rand Ravich, Far Shariat, Dan Sackhelm, Damian Lewis, and Sarah Shahi, "Farthingale" with Rand Ravich, Far Shariat, and Dan Sackhelm, "Serious Control Issues" with Rand Ravich, Far Shariat, and Adam Arkin, "Dig a Hole" with Rand Ravich, Far Shariat, Dan Sackhelm, Damian Lewis, and Sarah Shahi, and "Fill It Up" with Dan Sackhelm, Damian Lewis, and Sarah Shahi.


  • Deleted Scenes: are included for episodes "Let Her Go" (2 scenes) and "A Civil War" (1 scene).


  • Blooper Reel (1:01): is a short clip of the cast acting goofy during filming.


  • Life Begins (8:17): is an interview featurette with Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi. They talk about the series, characters, plotlines, etc. It is pretty standard.


  • Multi-Angle Deleted Scene (1:57): is a deleted scene from the pilot episode "Merit Badge". There are four angles, which offer footage from the original cut, edited behind the scenes footage, unedited behind the scenes footage, and the final scene.


  • Fruits of Life (0:43): is a montage of clips from season one with Crews and his fruit.


  • Still Life: is a collection of slideshows for Life, episode "Fallen Woman", and episode "Close to Minty".


  • Life's Questions Answered (5:23): is an interview featurette with cast members Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, and Brent Sexton. They talk about the storyline of Crews investigating his wrongful conviction.





Final Thoughts:

Life is a police drama from NBC that first aired in 2007. The show has many elements common to generic police procedural dramas: two LAPD homicide detectives investigate and solve cases. However, the unique aspect to the series is the main character Charlie Crews. He was wrongfully convicted of murder. After twelve years in jail, he is exonerated and returns to duty. He has a very different outlook and perspective on life, which makes him an interesting character. In the end, Life is a fun police drama and does pretty well in its first season.

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