Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Great One You're Probably Missing


There's nothing sadder than having to delete a DVR Season Pass because there aren't going to be any more new episodes. "Pushing Daisies" recently breathed its last, although I'm not sure if I ever warmed to that show. I felt more like it was the kind of show people like me were supposed to support. Quirk is a privilege you can abuse.

Several times NBC's Buddhist-influenced cop show "Life" has gotten the dreaded "No new episodes scheduled to recorded" message, but it always seems to survive for another four- or five-episode run. If it were Fox or CBS, "Life" never would have made it out of its first season. But neither of those networks, which have established rubrics for generating hit series, what have developed something this weird. Damian Lewis is movie-star intense as wrongly imprisoned detective Charlie Crews, whose embrace of eastern philosophy while in lockup does not always match up with his cop's sense of justice. The creators have always erred on the side of more depth and more layers when filling in the cast around Lewis: Donal Logue has gotten better on an episode-by-episode basis as the roguish chief, the great Adam Arkin is doing his best TV work here since "Northern Exposure," and as Charlie's principal foil, Detective Reese, Sarah Shahi is equal parts sex appeal and sarcasm.

A lesser show with the same dynamic (like, say, "Bones" recently) feels obliged to remind us in dialogue constantly about how the leads have chemistry. Reese and Crews' chemistry is all sidelong eye-rolls and exasperated sighs. It's lovely that there's at least one one-hour drama left which appreciates the value of understatement. I can tell, though, even though I love it like chocolate cake "Life" isn't for everyone. It's a very stylized kind of cop show and the writers create the murder mysteries to speak to what's going on in the lives of the characters. This ain't "The Wire."

The first new episode of the new year, "Re-entry," had a lot of themes in common with the first-season "X-Files" episode "Space." Apparently astronauts have a lot of trouble adjusting to life back in the atmosphere. Or at least they do on TV -- the only astronaut I ever met was really friendly. Ted (Arkin) had a good subplot teaching business lessons to guys in prison (Charlie's enemies got parolee Ted arrested to send a message). It also continues to be interesting watching Reese keep the personal and the professional apart, as her budding relationship with Logue's Captain Tidwell absolutely isn't going to make her break the bond of trust with her partner, even if she doesn't understand him a lot of the time.

I've been really sick the past two days with the flu. Maybe the same strain that Kevin Garnett has. I don't know if you can tell or not, but to me it seems like my writing is absolutely terrible right now. If Garnett had to sit a couple of games, I won't let it bother me too much being slightly less insightful than usual.

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