Life - Season 1 DVD

Saturday, 10 January 2009 09:23

You might be forgiven for thinking this is just another generic US cop show, guns blazing and lots of cool detectives running around in designer clothes and sexy shades. You would be correct. But, and this is what separates this generic cop show from the rest, the lead character is mischievously different.

Crews (Damien Lewis - Band of Brothers, The Forsythe Saga) is an LA police detective who has been released from prison, exonerated of all charges for a murder he did not commit. Crews is partnered with Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi - The L-Word), a cop who has a past she would rather forget but which keeps coming back to haunt her. Together they solve the cities murders and Crews quietly investigates the murder and conspiracy that put him behind bars for 12 years.

Life Season 1 DVDCrews is given a huge settlement and buys a vast house which he lives in with a fellow prison inmate Ted Earley (Adam Arkin - Chicago Hope, Northern Exposure) who looks after Charlie’s finances and bizarre requests.

Charlie Crews is both calm and ruthless; he is like a coiled snake ready to strike when the time is right. But he is equally at home baffling his partner with philosophy and observations that only he can make thanks to his new found enthusiasm for Zen Buddhism.

It is the characterisation that makes this series. Lewis plays Crews very subtly and has a gift for timing and reactions. In a reverse of the successful Life on Mars Crews is left playing catch up on 12 years of history. In one scene we see him fascinated by the vibrate setting on his mobile phone as it rumbles across his immaculate desk.

Each episode is split between a standard murder investigation with the usual mix of obvious and not so obvious suspects and some development in Crews ongoing investigation into his framing. We are also introduced to other characters from Charlie’s past. This is done by way of a documentary or news interview, so we see the characters at either vulnerable or very guarded moments. This is an interesting way to fill in the back story and is continued throughout the series, sometimes simply by repeating a comment from a previous episode to underline a point in the current storyline.

As the series progresses we are given more and more clues as to the person or persons behind the murder of Crews friend which had him spend 12 years in jail. Unlike some series this is not a dull and over complicated story arc, there is the potential for it to become quite complicated in the second series but for this first series it is kept relatively straight forward. The murders range from standard ‘whodunnit?’ to a potential racially motivated murder.

Crews has obvious empathy with the suspects and any convicts he crosses paths with. While Reece wants to do her work by the book and occasionally has to rein Charlie in.

Guest stars include William Sanderson (“True Blood”) playing a vagrant accused of a murder that Crews is convinced he did not do and Garret Dillahunt (The Sarah Connor Chronicles) playing an evil Russian mobster. 24’s Nina Myers - actress Sarah Clarke - also guest stars as the mother of a young man accused of murder and another of 24’s stars Jude Ciccolella (who played Mike Novick in the series) appears as a suspect.

This is an enjoyable and quirky series; it has the right balance of humour and drama to keep the show interesting. Life is easy to watch and its stars are likable and very well cast. The story arc is interesting and intriguing it does not interfere or overshadow the episodic murder investigation stories, but at times actually compliments them.

Life - Season 1 is released on 2 February 2009 and includes several extras including audio commentaries from cast and crew, deleted scenes and several featurettes. The RRP is £24.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com .

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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