"I don't think I talk differently than anyone else talks. Maybe sometimes I don't not say things that other people don't not say, but most other people don't not say the same things I don't. Know what I'm saying?" -CrewsMost of the press coverage (other than Fienberg) of Fox's decision to move the "American Idol" back to 9 p.m. in a few weeks has focused almost exclusively on what the move means for "Lost." But "Lost" is going away in another season, and ABC sure isn't going to pull the plug before then, so no matter how badly "Idol" beats on it, "Lost" will make it to the finish line.
No, my fear (and Fienberg's) is that this move is going to hasten the death of "Life." I don't think any of us are naive enough at this point to believe there's going to be a third season of this wonderful but abysmally-rated show. It's already something of a miracle that it got renewed at all, and that NBC gave it a full order this season. My only hope at this point is that it makes it to the end of this year, and that Rand Ravich was able to read the writing on the wall enough to provide some kind of closure to Crews' quest for revenge/justice/Zen, and that the series doesn't end on a shot of Crews staring quizzically at the Wall of Blame. And now that "Idol" is about to move into the neighborhood, I fear that the ratings will become so low that NBC won't feel able to justify keeping a boutique show like this(*) on the air any longer, and that the plug will be pulled with several episodes to go.
(*) The shame of it is that "Life" is basically the same show as "The Mentalist" -- and better-executed, at that -- but it's on the wrong network. Other than the "Law & Order"s with their built-in brand loyalty -- and even the mothership isn't doing too hot lately -- people don't think of NBC as a place to find well-done procedural cop shows, and NBC at this point isn't in the position to be able to adequately promote and schedule a show like this. I imagine a lot of the "Mentalist"/"Lie to Me"/"NCIS" audience would dig this show, but they don't know it exists.
An episode like "I Heart Mom" suggests the rest of the season -- assuming we get to see all of it -- could go either way in terms of closure. Crews finally reaches a place where Mickey Rayborn is ready and willing to provide all the answers he wants (and we want) about the conspiracy that put Charlie in prison, but it's unclear just how much Rayborn tells him, or how much Charlie asked. It's implied that the conversation went on for a while after we cut back to the murder investigation, and we'll just have to wait and hope to find out how much Charlie now knows. Or maybe we'll just get a bunch of cool music montages followed by an abrupt cancellation. Sigh...
If, indeed, Rayborn was murdered, then William Atherton got a great farewell episode, as he got to play dead (and laugh about it afterwards), needle Crews about his solemnity and lack of a boat, and even make the guy eat a deep-fried scorpion.
As for the main case, it was amusing to see Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett from "The Facts of Life") as the mother of M.C. Gainey (Tom Friendly from "Lost"), and to see Gainey playing at being an antique-dealing mama's boy. I lost the thread of the mystery after a while, as I usually do with this show, but there were nice individual moments, like the above-quoted scene where Reese complains about the Crews' speech patterns, or Crews getting hung up on them being like a couple (but never, thankfully, in a romantic way), or the blind guy smelling Reese, Crews assuming it was perfume, and then realizing she doesn't wear any and pawning it off on the smell of her "essence."
The Ted subplot was a little thin, as most Ted subplots are. Now that he's out of prison, he again seems so disconnected from the rest of the series that, good as Adam Arkin is in the role, I wish they'd only use him if he's going to interact with Charlie. (Or if Christina Hendricks is going to come back.)
Finally, I promised that in every episode featuring a William Atherton appearance, I'd include a quote from one of Atherton's memorable '80s movie villain roles. As this appears to be the end of the line for him, I figured I'd go back to my favorite Atherton role, as Dr. Jerry Hathaway in "Real Genius." I was tempted to go with another exchange between him and Val Kilmer (maybe the one about popcorn, or the one where Jerry tells Chris to pass the rest of the tests back, just like his IQ was normal), but given the subject of this episode, I couldn't resist Hathaway's rant at the contractors who are renovating his house:
"What are you looking at? You're laborers; you should be laboring. That's what you get for not having an education."Ah, Atherton. I'll miss him.
What did everybody else think?