Is Judge Cynthia Boris high on Life? Dharma right she is!
Our review of Life: Season One, published September 15th, 2008, is also available.
TV's most intriguing detective, LA's most unusual crimes.
In one of the commentary tracks on this DVD, someone says, "Sarah got pregnant and ruined our show." It's sort of a joke, but not really and unfortunately, it's true. This is Life: Season Two on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Detective Charles Crews (Damian Lewis, Band of Brothers) spent 12 years in jail for a triple homicide that he didn't commit. Freed on appeal, his lawyers sued the city and Charlie was awarded a huge cash settlement that would allow him to live the good life for the rest of his life should he so choose. What he does choose is to go back to work as a cop, approaching his work with a newfound Zen philosophy and a lot of fruit.
Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi, The L Word) is Crews' new partner (his old partner was a victim in the triple homicide). She's a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and so she's partnered with Crews because no one wants to work with either of them. Adding to her troubles is the fact that her father, Jack Reese (Victor Rivers), is a retired police officer who was involved in the murder case that sent Crews to jail in the first place.
Week after week, the two of them take on a variety of quirky homicide cases while Crews continues to search for the people behind the conspiracy that sent him to jail…
…And that leads us to the big changes in this second season.
There are three major elements that affect the second season of this series. First is the addition of Captain Tidwell (Donal Logue, Grounded for Life) as their new boss. Playing a crass cop from New York, Logue brings a different style of humor to the series and he fills the role of the audience POV, being the outsider who doesn't know about Crews' and Reese's back-stories. A few episodes into the season, he and Reese begin dating, adding a whole 'nother off balance dimension to this already off-kilter series.
The second element is Crews' search for the truth. Though he found the actual killer in Season One, he still doesn't know why he was set up to take the fall for the murders. In Season Two, Crews tracks down Rachel Seybolt, the daughter of his former, murdered partner and the only family member to survive that horrible night. Rachel becomes a factor in locating the other surviving members of a conspiracy that included Reese's father and it all leads to Russian mobster Roman Nevikov (Garret Dillahunt, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and a showdown in the series finale.
The third factor was the one that did them in. Star Sarah Shahi came down suddenly pregnant and had to be written out of a good number of episodes. On the surface, this doesn't seem like it would be a big issue. The show is about Charlie Crews, after all, so give him another partner and it's all good, right? Wrong. The show works because of the banter between Crews and Reese, take out that element and the walls begin to crumble.
Good news: Shahi is replaced by Gabrielle Union (Bring it On), a very fine young actress. Bad news; the character as written is ridiculous and she lacks the chemistry with Lewis.
Good news: instead of writing Reese out with a lame excuse like she has to go visit a sick aunt, they write her out in a way that is relevant to the plot. Bad news: that storyline ends up being illogical and nonsensical.
The end result of these three changes is a great show that goes rapidly down hill as the season progresses. Take a look:
This is an excellent episode with a great soundtrack and a crazy killer. It's everything that's right with this series all wrapped up in the opening episode.
• "Everything…All the Time"
• "The Business of Miracles"
• "Not for Nothing"
• "Did You Feel That"
• "Black Friday"
• "Evil…and His Brother Ziggy"
• "Canyon Flowers"
• "Mirror Ball"
• "I Heart Mom"
• "Hit Me Baby"
• "3 Women"
• "5 Quarts"
• "Initiative 38"
I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that I found it wholly unbelievable and out of character. Many people loved it, but I thought it felt like a desperate attempt to dig themselves out of a deep hole. Even more disappointing was the fact that it felt like an entirely different show. It didn't have the witty banter, the humorous undertones, or any of the off-kilter behavior that makes the show so enjoyable. It was a rough ending to a great TV series.
The DVD itself gets the job done. The five discs are housed in a tri-fold case. There are easily readable episode descriptions on the panels. The video and audio are as you'd expect for a new show. The series is styled with an over saturation of color which looked a little orange on my high def but your mileage may vary.
The special features aren't all that special. Producers Rand Ravich and Far Shariat lead the commentaries with help from a variety of actors depending on the episode. They're interesting to listen to and they do reveal a lot of behind the scenes tidbits. The delete scenes add nothing to set and the gag reel is the usual collection of people flubbing their lines.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Other than the plot points I've already mentioned, there's no bad here.
Life takes the typical trappings of a police procedural then puts them on spin. The oversaturated colors and cinema-style filming techniques make it visually interesting, but the real difference is in the dialogue. Much of the dialogue in the show is made up of short sentences with a great deal of repetition. It has a poetic feel and many of the throwaway lines have an existential double meaning. "What can you put in box?" "They shouldn't call it a river if there's no water in it." "Did you feel that?"
You could say that Life transcends the boundaries of typical cop shows, with a touch of Zen philosophy and a whole lot of fruit.
Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe only
what you yourself test and judge to be true—Buddha
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