Spoilers for the "Life" season two premiere coming up just as soon as I ship a kumquat...
"Life" is one of those shows that took a while to grow on me last season. I liked Damian Lewis from the beginning, but it felt like creator Rand Ravich was trying too hard to show how Charlie Crews was different from your average cop show hero -- He loves fruit! Modern technology baffles him! He quotes Zen koans! -- to the point where Crews seemed less a character than a collection of tics. But a few weeks in, Ravich started taking a more Zen approach to showcasing Crews' quirks, allowing them to simply be as opposed to being in our face all the time. And once they relaxed on the fruit and the cell phone jokes and Reese rolling her eyes every time Crews opened his mouth, the show was markedly improved. I don't watch a lot of crime procedurals anymore, but "Life" quickly established itself as something I didn't want to miss. The final pre-strike episode, with Crews going rogue to find the man who committed the murders Charlie went to prison for, was one of the best hours of TV I watched last year.
So I was disappointed to see the show take a step backwards with tonight's premiere. Fruit references up the wazoo (oranges, kumquats, and even a request for mango ice cream), Crews (who's now been out of prison for months, if not a year) is still confused by something as prevalent as a motion sensor faucet, and while Reese is now on the same wavelength with her partner, Donal Logue has been brought in as the new boss(*) so the show can still have someone who acts confused by Charlie's MO every week.
(*) I like Logue a lot, by the way -- "Tao of Steve" is one of the most-rewatched DVDs in the Sepinwall household, and Jimmy the cabdriver's discourses on both the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and Alanis' "Ironic" are brilliant -- and don't think Robin Weigert (who'll be around on occasion as a detective) was particularly well-used last year as the boss. So I'm not unhappy to see him here; I just want him to have more to do than asking what the hell Crews is talking about.
Now, I'm sure part of this is the whole re-freshman phenomenon -- "Life" has been off the air for so long, and was so low-rated to begin with, that this is essentially like a second pilot episode. Airing after "Heroes" will likely give it its biggest audience ever, and I can understand the desire to do a "Life 101" kind of episode for the newbies. But earlier this evening, "Chuck" was able to pull off something similar in a way that improved upon what had been happening last season, as opposed to seeming like backsliding.
I've also seen next Monday's episode, which isn't quite as dumbed-down, so I'm not too worried. And there were still some fine moments here, from the usual beautiful/bizarre crime scene tableaus (I especially liked the steamer trunk on the airport runway) to Crews rescuing Rachel by using Kyle Hollis' crazy "ring of fire" talk.
So no panic; just minor disappointment. I'm skeptical of the show's survival chances once it's only on Friday nights, but I'm glad for any extra hours I get to spend watching Lewis do his thing.
What did everybody else think?