Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life, "Canyon Flowers": Serial boxes

Brief spoilers for last night's "Life" coming up just as soon as I run a red light...

Charlie Crews is such an interesting character, and Damian Lewis such a compelling actor, that it's easy to ignore the basic procedural format of "Life." But if the crime story of the week isn't working, then the episode isn't working, and the story of the infamous killer and his descendants lost me about 10 minutes in and never got me back. Dutch's speech from "The Shield" finale about LA's celebrity serial killer culture should have had me primed for a story on this topic, but it just seemed flat and overly complicated.

In fact, I was tempted to skip reviewing this episode altogether, or just get around to it when I had a few other things backlogged for a grab-bag review, but I did promise to include a bit of William Atherton '80s movie dialogue in every review until he wrapped up his stint, so this week, I give you arguably the most famous scene of his career, from "Ghostbusters," with Atherton in the role of Walter Peck, and Bill Murray as Peter Venkman:
Dr Ray Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
Mayor: Is this true?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes it's true. This man has no dick.
So there you have it. What did everybody else think?


Shawn Anderson said...

What about the return of Garret Dillahunt? I realize he was in an episode last year (the fifth, I believe) but that's two years in a row we get a photographic lead in to the season finale featuring a Deadwood favorite foreshadowing the next week's bad guy (Titus Welliver was last year's).

Also, Dillahunt has played so many killers now, just seeing his picture pop up in a story about serial killers seemed so natural.

Bruce Reid said...

Mostly routine, and pretty easy to figure out (admittedly a low priority for me with this show), but salvaged I thought by the sad confession from the serial killer's son that he'd given his memorabilia away to become a good person; and the striking police sweep through the museum, each bloodied mannequin requiring a doubletake to confirm.

Anonymous said...

Quite to the contrary, I thought this was one of the better episodes of the year. The procedural elements were well done, with lots of potential suspects and interesting twists. The mass murder museum curators were definitely a little over the top. "Greeb" describes them well. Overall, a smoother episode than last week. The conspiracy just got more interesting with the return of Roman. I want to say that he had dropped some hints about Crews' framejob last year.

Emily said...

I enjoyed this episode, at least in part because Squeaky and Tex were so loathsome. *shudder* Also, I'm so worried about Ted!

Anonymous said...

Life has been selected as one of the 10 AFI TV Programs of the Year for 2008 ( href="" )

I enjoyed all the odd-couple visuals in this one: the siblings/roomates, Dani and Charlie, Squeaky and Tex)

This episode dealing with the ordeal of being the daughter, son, or grandson of a famous criminal reminds me: How will Dani Reese react when all her father's crimes are made public?

Unknown said...

Since you first talked about it, I've really been focusing in on the visuals of the show and the flower corpse and the cops through the museum was great. I wanted the killer to be Squeaky, 'cause I kind of hate her everywhere she shows up. And for everything he's done, Dillahunt seems just like a Terminator to me. I did have to rewind on a couple plots points, but overall enjoyed this episode.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like this ep. Too procedural.

Or maybe I didn't like it because it didn't give me the Tedeese I wanted (....hmmmm maybe "needed" is the right word...), and I think the writers lost a good occasion: I'm still waiting for "that" talk between Charlie and Dani!

J.J. said...

I hated this episode. It just didn't sit well with me. Like tainted pork.

It just felt like a flimsy excuse to point out the fact that there's a whole big weird cult of people who obsess over serial killer stuff. (Which is pretty old news, and therefore not fascinating enough for them to make such a big deal out of it anymore.)

It's like when you watch an episode of "Law & Order: SVU" where it's obvious that somebody in the writers' room stumbled onto some bizarre nugget in research and they decided to base an entire episode around it just so they could write it into a show. Of course, I'm using L&O as an example. Many shows do this. Like that rash of terrible episodes various different programs did a couple years ago when the TV industry decided to show how hip they were for being mildly aware of massive multi-player online games (I seem to recall Numb3rs, Law & Order, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office all cramming massive multi-player online gaming into episodes around the same time).

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a very good show overall; I am late to the "Life" party, not having watched it last year. I can't think of enough superlatives for Damian Lewis, except that his American accent may even be better than Hugh Laurie's! The humor of the show, along with the framing of Ted left me stunned; As for Dani, I would watch her if the show were on pay-per-view

J.J. said...

After thinking about it some more, I have to ask: is it just me, or has this show had way too many bizarre cases this season?

The bodies in the trunks, the guy that was frozen solid, the missing body in the mall, the dude buried up to his neck?

I thought they were regular detectives, but this season it's feeling a lot like they're being called in just for the really weird stuff. Or did I miss the part where they explained that that was their specialty?