Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life, "Jackpot": Sucker Ponch

Spoilers for the return of "Life" to Wednesday nights coming up just as soon as I buy a kitchen table...

"Dale was right. It does help with the solving of crimes." -Crews

I wasn't in love with a lot of "Jackpot" -- like too much of "Life" season two, the case felt like something we could have seen on almost any other crime procedural -- but it definitely brought the funny, whether it was the meta joke about the fruit, or the self-satisfied look on Crews' face when he realized he could stay at the lotto support group or when Erik Estrada claimed to be a fan, or the silent exchange between Reese and Crews about the heavyset con woman being a phone sex worker.

But, again, the mystery felt lacking (the bodyguard screamed "BAD GUY!" from his first appearance), and I'd like the bonding between Crews and Rachel Seybolt more if I had a better grasp of the conspiracy story and the chronology. (For instance, how could Rachel remember the murder well enough and yet not realize she was being raised by her parents' killer?) And every time Tidwell and Reese have a conversation, I cringe.

Still, Damian Lewis is wonderful, particularly in those moments where Crews has to speak the absolute truth to a stranger -- for instance, repeating to gun nut Tom that if the door closes, somebody dies -- that I'm still watching, waiting for the rest of the show to catch up to him the way it did late last year.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I told my wife that I thought I was the only person in the country who likes Captain Tidwell, but she said she agrees with me. Go figure.

It's driving me crazy - who is the actor that played Dale, the guy with the party bus? We recognized him immediately, but can't place him. I couldn't find his name in the credits or at any of the online sources so far.

Mapeel said...

Watching Damian Lewis on a weekly basis is such a luxury that I don't mind the weak vessel.

I thought the Dale character was a subtle goof on who Crews would be--the hair color, the suit, etc.--if he weren't blessed with being the latter-day Steve McQueen

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I like Tidwell. And I can see why Reese would like him--he doesn't hide who he is. He knows who he is, knows how people see him, and doesn't seem to care what anyone else thinks.

With what we know of her history, both undercover on the job, and with her father, it doesn't surprise me that she'd respond to someone who's not exactly complicated, and straightforward.

That said, while I understand it, I don't think it'll be good for her in the long run, personally and professionally. Which is probably the point of the storyline. This isn't one of those TV ships to root over. It's a character-revealing device.

And on another note, I love her and Charlie this season. She's past being annoyed. They have a great partnership and friendship going, and it's one of my favorite things about the show.

The Charlie and Rachel stuff was great, too. Hope they keep her around. I think she'll be good for him, and he her.

Sara Ann said...

I've got to jump in the pro-Tidwell camp as well. He's greasy, but he owns it, and he skirts the skeevy line without crossing it (too much). It's still a TV cliche - gross guy nabs hot chick 'cause she sees his inner-mensch - but I'm still enjoying them together.

And, like you, Alan, I'm not sure exactly what's going on with Rachel and Crews. Their exchanges seem like they'd be very touching if I knew what was going on. Previouslies, show? Pretty please?

afoglia said...

Tidwell was definitely at his best this week. Not nearly as annoying as usual. Otherwise, not much for worth discussing.

I think Rachel doesn't realize her adoptive father was the killer because Kyle Hollis had long hair and a full beard when he committed the murder, and was clean-shaven, and living under a different name when he raised Rachel.

The real mystery is how exactly he ended up taking care for her. I think it's been hinted that Jack Reese was responsible. We know she was taken to a police psychiatrist or somesuch. That's how her drawing got into her file, right?

And to john the editor, Dale was played by Jonathan Slavin probably best known for playing Andy Richter's officemate on Andy Richter Controls the Universe.

Shawn Anderson said...

One of the subtle things this week about Captain Tidwell is that the actor playing him, Donal Logue, seems to have taken over as music supervisor.

A couple weeks ago, Tidwell named The Afghan Whigs as one of his favorite things, and tonight's episode featured two songs from The Gutter Twins -- both bands are fronted by Logue's good friend Greg Dulli.

Here's a great clip of Logue and Dulli hosting MTV's 120 Minutes back in 1994.

monic said...

Well, I don't like Tidwell and its not for the lack of trying to like him. He was better this episode but I still wish they didn't push the Tidwell-Reese romance. It really does a disservice to Reese's character who I love.

I hate seeing her reduced to The Girl and pushed into the background. Mysteries aren't this show's strong suit and I've come to accept that instead I watch this show for Charlie, for Reese and for the partnership.

This episode surprised me I thought it was just going to be run of the mill 'Crushed' sort of episode but it moved differently and focused on characters. I missed the light touch Life episodes had, that sort of gentleness at every episode's end.

Still, I really wish that they'd return to its roots. The partnership, the conspiracy, Reese as a conflicted and complicated character who dressed like a cop. Frankly, I thought she looked a lot better sporting that bun and leather jacket than some of the outfits she's been sporting lately.

KendraWM said...

I liked last nights, but it could be because I wasn't feeling that great so it was perfect, I was entertained without having to think a lot about it.

I like Tidwell, but it could be because I have always liked Donal Logue, I will still watch Grounded For Life, when I see it.

I think another reason I liked this episode was because I went to school with Jonathan Slavin who played Dale, so it is always fun to see that.

Anonymous said...

I really liked this episode of Life. First off, I can buy, short term, Reese and Tidwell. You have your opposites, somewhat - the somewhat, closed off Reese vs. the somewhat, open-book Tidwell. I think, for the short term, it allows the writers to explore some things about her personality. Long run, though, putting them together would be a flaw, as I think her character needs a more serious counterpart (although I'm not sure Crews is right either). I am a fan of Donal Logue - he gets typecast a lot, but he works with what he has,and he does a good job with it.

I agree there's questions in Rachel's backstory that needs to be fleshed out a bit. That said, the interplay with Damian Lewis was good this week. I think one of the stark differences between Season 1 and Season 2 was a different female figure for Crews to play off of (in Season 1, it was Connie). In particular, a female figure that challenged Crews in a different perspective from the way Reese does. The benefit of Rachel is that she offers a chance to explore Crews as a, well, for lack of a better word, father figure, which may allow for more character development.

One thing I did not like - the whole "Crews doesn't know something" thing was revisited with the cell phone. They did it with the Season Premiere as well (park bathroom). It's pointless - he's been out this long. It's good for a crack every once in awhile I guess, but I don't think anyone would notice if they stopped with that.

The biggest problem with this show is also it's strongest point. The conspiracy makes this a unique police procedural (outside of the other issues Alan noted). It's refreshing. That said, the problem with procedural-serials is finding that balance. They are slow-playing it too much, which means they'll probably jam pack something in there soon. Cutting down some procedural elements to enhance the serial elements would be nice, if they have the time from NBC (haven't seen newest ratings).

I would also like to see them bring back Connie, but she may be busy. The whole jump from Crews' lawyer that fights for him to prosecutor that wants to help but can't, wasn't well down. They need to explore the Jack Reese angle - I can see an out for them to make Jack Reese somewhat simpathetic, based on the clues left behind, but we've known since Season 1 that Jack Reese was somehow involved, and they haven't advanced beyond that all too much.

Anonymous said...

Anthony, thanks for identifying Jonathan Slavin for me. I'm sure that I recognize him from Andy Richter's show.

monic, I don't think Reese's complexity is being pushed to the background this season. It's currently on display in her weird, developing relationship with Tidwell - it's maybe the first time she's found herself drawn to a guy who doesn't attract her physically, and she doesn't know how to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Where was Rachael this whole time?
With Jack Reese?

Anonymous said...

The good news is that NBC has ordered the back nine episodes from Universal Media Studios, so we'll get a full season of LIFE, according to James Hibberd at

Anonymous said...

I started watching for Damian Lewis, but after one episode I realized that the plot was the Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite novel.

Of course, Crews is Edmond Dantes, wrongfully imprisoned, escaping to riches, ultimately to figure out the conspiracy and seek revenge.

Rachel is tougher to figure out, but she is Haydee, daughter of Ali Pasha, betrayed and killed by Fernand Mondego de Morcerf. Fernande Mondego de Morcerf also was part of the consipiracy that sent Dantes to prison. Haydee was then sold into slavery. Once Dantes finds her and figures out who she is, he purchases her from her master and she chooses to stay with him, even though he sets her free. Eventually she gives the key evidence in the trial of Fernand Mondego de Morcerf.

Albert de Morcerf, Fernand's son, becomes very close with Dantes and after learning of his actions, disowns his father and mother. Let's just call Dani Reese Albert de Morcerf.

Oh, and did you think it's a coincidence that Crews' ex-wife drives a Mercedes? That's the name of Dantes fiancee who Fernand stole as part of the conspiracy.

Oh, and Crews' mother died when he was in prison, like Dantes' heartbroken father.

Well adapted. I recommend the book (unabridged) to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Just watched this ep for the 2nd time last night. (Things have been pretty Lifeless lately.) Every time I see some sleazy unshaven overweight guy get the girl, I think "A man must've written this episode." I love Donal Logue and his character here--rolled on the floor during the earthquake ep when Crews shook the drawing board and Tidwell cowered in the doorframe--but I also don't buy Reese's interest in him. We'll see, maybe it won't turn out romantic. Do we know for sure sure that it will?

Loved seeing Dale the Party Bus guy again. He's one of "those guys" that pop up on a lot of shows. Wasn't expecting to see Erik Estrada as one of Dale's posse--that was so anachronistic it made me laugh.

Oh, and Andy Richter rules. That recent nerdy tax guy-turned-detective show was great. Too bad it only had about 4 episodes.