Monday, October 27, 2008

Life, "Did You Feel That?": The quake escape

Spoilers for Friday night's "Life" -- plus some thoughts on the show's new timeslot -- coming up just as soon as I enjoy The Beatles' second movie...

I'm of two minds about an episode like "Did You Feel That?" On the one hand, it's nice to have a change-of-pace episode now and then, and Damian Lewis is kind of brilliant at the action hero stuff. (I may be going overboard in my praise here, but between "Band of Brothers" and this show, he looks as good with a gun in his hands as any actor since Steve McQueen.)

On the other hand, you only get to do this kind of episode once or twice before it starts to get cheesey, and counting last year's finale, we're already up to two of these thrill ride episodes. And I don't know that I bought the guy from the pilot becoming this kind of ruthless criminal mastermind, despite all of Tidwell's talk about how prison changes men for the worse.

Also, I thought a lot of the green screen work looked really cheap, which can be okay on a stylized show like "Pushing Daisies" or even "Heroes" (sometimes) but not so much on a more naturalistic show like "Life." I'm also displeased with Reese kissing Tidwell, and wish there was more of a point to the story of Ted's pencil-impaled hand. (Though if it's a set up for Christina Hendricks to make a whole bunch of future appearances, no complaints whatsoever. Where it's strange to see some of the other "Mad Men" actors -- notably January Jones -- looking contemporary, Hendricks seems to work in both the past and the present.)

But dammit, Damian Lewis is mesmerizing in episodes like this one, and so I'll ignore all my concerns for now.

Now, in case you missed it on Friday, NBC is doing a major shakeup of its Wednesday lineup due to the ongoing ratings disaster that is "Lipstick Jungle." That show airs twice this week, first Wednesdays at 10 and then taking over for "Life" Fridays at 10. Then next week, "Life" moves to Wednesdays at 9, followed by the return of "Law & Order" to its birthright timeslot.

For the most part, this is good news for "Life," as Friday is now a network graveyard. But expectations were also much lower on Fridays than on Wednesdays, and I imagine "Criminal Minds" will be even tougher crime competition than "Numb3rs" was. So this move could help prolong the show's lifespan or it could shorten it.

What did everybody else think?


Gauri said...

About the pencil story line, I think one of the problems with the show is that they haven't quite figured out what to do with Ted/Adam Arkin. While an interesting character, his storyline almost never adds to the rest of the episode and the writers need to figure out a way to include him

KendraWM said...

This episode was Ok for me. I normally love this show and was ready to just hit record and go to bed. Part of the problem was there were so many opportunities to take down the bad guy and they didn't.

And while I loved to see Joan the pencil thing really did not do anything for me.

Jeff L said...

Pretty much the worst episode of either season.

Break it down, and the whole escape/robbery plan just doesn't work (Where'd he get the cop car and uniforms? Does that mean everyone completely ignored two dead cops somewhere? Or is it that easy to steal police cruiser? The Mom/Office Manager has tons of time alone with Crews & Reese at the office, and never says anything about the guy holding her family hostage? And on, and on.)

And I literally yelled "don't do it!" as Reese kissed Tidwell. He's a good cop but a horrible human being, and they've now taken Reese from being a strong, independent interesting woman in season 1 to nothing but a Bimbo in season 2.

I'm also with Gauri above. They really need to figure out how to get Ted into the action (or at least let his plot line echo the main one, as Chuck has been doing so well with the Buy More stuff this season). The whole pencil thing felt like a giant waste of time.

But even with a clunker like Friday, this remains a can't-miss show for me. Just like you say, Alan, Lewis is just too good. And when the show hits, it's tremendous fun!

Anonymous said...

According to this episode, prison doesn't just change you, it turns you into the Joker.

Jeff L said...

And Tom wins the thread!!!

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed the main storyline, though as I think back on it, that was more because of Damian Lewis than the story itself. He is just a force.

In addition to the Tidwell/Reese kiss, it also seemed to me that there was more friendly/personal interactions between Crews and Reese. Was that just me?

Finally, they totally need to watch a couple of episodes of Chuck and put Ted in a similar role as the Buy More guys. Interestingly, it may be even easier here as Ted's parallel story could be either paralleling the case of the week or the progress in the grand conspiracy or even helping to move the grand conspiracy forward, though that seems less plausible.

I'm just glad, though, that when Crews talked about other computers and they stopped at the Coffee Shop, they didn't have him turning to Ted for help again. After the prisoner's dilemma episode where he (somewhat) plausibly helped out, going back to that well again would have been too much.

Unknown said...

I also am disgusted at Reese kissing Tidwell. He's a disgusting guy, and who really wants to make out with your 3x-divorced sweaty/crude/rude boss who clearly would be happy to make you ex #4? I cannot conceive of her actually wanting to do so. The second she got under the door with him (as opposed to standing there during EVERY OTHER QUAKE) I started groaning.

I also second that they don't know what to do with Ted either, especially when he isn't tied in with whatever Charlie is working on. I felt like I should be taking a drink every time someone said "pencil in the hand," they repeated it so much. I like Christina Hendricks, but this was pretty lame.

Otherwise this was interesting (though as a native Californian, why didn't anyone duck and cover? Who just stands there shaking during a quake? Nobody with any brain cells. Also, NO traffic?!), though really, whatshisface managed to come up with ALL of that stuff, dependent on an earthquake happening at JUST the right time? Can't buy that happening.

Anonymous said...

When I first saw the quake, I thought this was some sort of fantasy show because buildings do not do those sorts of things during quakes. Kinda killed the whole vibe for me.

Anonymous said...

"And I don't know that I bought the guy from the pilot becoming this kind of ruthless criminal mastermind..."

Alan, Tins was the mastermind of the con of getting money from children and he ruthlessly murdered a child to remain unseen. Also, one of his accomplices had been in place for longer than Tins had been in jail, making me think that the armoured car robbery was well into planning stages when he was arrested for the child's death. The only variation his latest incarceration introduced was getting revenge on Rawls and using Charlie to do it. That's exactly the sort of thing I believe a convict would use his time to conceive.

Anonymous said...

This probly came up in last season's comments but for all Lewis fans who havent yet done so, DONT miss out on "Forsyte Saga" series 1 and 2 for a Damian Lewis tour de force.

He is in Forsyte as has been said before here, simply a riveting, irresistable force of nature.

Also a terrific windfall for Gina McKee fans out there.

Anonymous said...

Woops, meant to add that Forsyte Sagas are avail to all via the Magic of Netflix

Anonymous said...

Jennifer said...

"I also am disgusted at Reese kissing Tidwell. He's a disgusting guy, and who really wants to make out with your 3x-divorced sweaty/crude/rude boss who clearly would be happy to make you ex #4? I cannot conceive of her actually wanting to do so. The second she got under the door with him (as opposed to standing there during EVERY OTHER QUAKE) I started groaning."

Although the writers did make a point in season one of showing Reese as damaged, leading her to make poor choices in her personal and professional life. That's why she wound up partnered with Crews in the first place. Sleeping around with your "disgusting" superior certainly fits the Reese character, at least the one from season 1. I'm not sure what exactly happened to that part of the show. It seemed like she was waking up every morning with a terrible hangover in some stranger's bed. She was just as much of an enigma as Crews. But they have not really explored this angle in season 2 yet.

Anonymous said...

I got enough of a creepy vibe off the bad guy, and enough of a thrill off Damian Lewis being a badass cop that this ep was good enough... until Reese kissed the boss. I agree that maybe they're finally remembering to write some of her damaged-ness back into the show but, ICK!!! Please do it some other way. I'm more interested to see her deal with being an outcast in her family due to her questioning her dad's role in Crews' incarceration. Or seeing her struggle to stay away from drugs -- that scene last season where they uncovered a drug stash and it got all over her and she panicked, and Crews "rescued her" by throwing her in the shower was so haunting for me, and cemented my commitment to the show. There is so much more they can write for that character, to make people *care* and give new viewers a reason to come back every week.

I also whole-heartedly agree that they need to find a way to mesh the Ted/Arkin character with the rest of the storyline. I was fine with him last season, and I think Arkin can bring some good drama or funny to the role but they need to write him a fully-fleshed character and not what we've seen this season so far. The pencil in the hand bit was soooooooooo lame. But CH is so beautiful, I have a massive girl-crush on her. They can bring her back every other week, as long as it doesn't cut into her Mad Men schedule ;-)

Finally, I'd like to say that the worst ep for me this season was the second one with the steroid conspiracy. Compared to that one, this week's was brilliant.

Unknown said...

I actually quite liked this episode it felt like a return to last season with all the fantastic partner moments. Except for that one scene with Tidwell that I'd rather soon forget.

I know that Dani is damaged but so far this season they've managed to forget that and focus solely on Tidwell's development (who I really don't care for) than Dani's.

That kiss between Tidwell and Reese doesn't make any sort of sense especially given that the whole episode they showed Reese as unconcerned about the quake as Charlie was and suddenly she was afraid enough to go under the doorway (she knows won't do a damn thing) with Tidwell? Please.

afoglia said...

"Hendricks seems to work in both the past and the present."

And future! Don't forget "Our Mrs. Reynolds" and "Trash"!

Definitely a bad episode. I too didn't buy Tins as a criminal mastermind. He's violent, but his original scam was very simple. He didn't seem like the kind of guy who would have such intricate plans.

The bluescreen was bad, mainly because it wasn't as vibrant as their usual palette. But I think that was to avoid it making it more obvious. Bright bluescreen effects tend to highlight the border between the foreground and the bluescreened background.

Anyway, Wednesday at 9 is probably a good sign for NBC's faith in the show, but a little worse for me (against Mythbusters).

Anonymous said...

I thought Friday's episode was the weakest of the season so far. Predictable and campy.
And Reese kissing Tidwell is wrong, wrong, wrong! If we are to believe Reese is an intelligent person, this does not help! (Loved Donal Logue in 'Knights of Prosperity')
Looking forward to a busy Wednesday night w/ Life, L&O & DS$.