Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life, "Evil... and his Brother Ziggy": She ain't heavy, she's his brother

Spoilers for last night's "Life" coming up just as soon as I enjoy some days-old deer stew...

Time for a new ad campaign: "Life: The year's funniest police procedural!"

This show has always had a comic side, thanks to its leading man (and now thanks to Donal Logue), but the last couple of episodes have been especially, almost refreshingly silly, highlighted by the mistaken identity business with Tidwell's call to the hotel, and then the awkward dinner where Ted tried to serve Indian (as in South Asian) food to an Indian (as in Native American) person, who then had to witness various bits of Crews family strife.

And yet, none of the laugh moments in any way undermined the show's usual Zen cool, whether it was Crews and William Atherton(*) chatting on his swank rooftop lounge or Crews staring down a gang of angry locals in the middle of the desert.

(*) I should have started this last week, but I make a vow that from now until whenever Atherton's guest stint on this show is done, I will include one random exchange from an Atherton '80s movie in my "Life" reviews. This week, courtesy of the underappreciated "Real Genius," with Atherton as Prof. Hathaway and Tom Swerdlow as Bodie:
Bodie: He said he didn't feel like it. And I said, "You'd better!" And he said, "Or what?" And I said, "Or else you're gonna be in trouble." And he said, "Jam it."
Professor Hathaway: That's a wonderful story, Bodie. I noticed you've stopped stuttering.
Bodie: I've been giving myself shock treatments.
Professor Hathaway: Up the voltage.
I do have to keep reminding myself that the Tidwell/Reese scenes (like the one pictured above) aren't supposed to be Tidwell fantasies, but that subplot has become worth it if solely for Crews' reaction to it, like him ferreting out Reese's "indulgence" using nothing but the powers of the taxi cab.

We have two more episodes until the show goes on a Christmas-through-January hiatus, but after worrying about much of the season, the last few episodes have been very satisfying.

What did everybody else think?


David J. Loehr said...

Thanks to your posts, I've been enjoying this more than I did last season, but I gave in early in the season and didn't catch the later, better episodes. We're deep into a theatre production right now, but I've been unwinding with this and Chuck on the TiVo when I get home at night.

And "Up the voltage" has been a perennial quote in our house for years. (Yet one more reason why I love my wife.)

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly tired of the standard fat guy gets beautiful woman plot device. I don't feel like there's really any reason for these characters to be together outside of offering writers an opportunity to have fun with the plot possibilities.

Nice to see the writers did avoid to much noble Indian greedy white man cliches though for a change.

Anonymous said...

Is Logue really the "standard fat guy" of the tv cliche? I don't think so. Either way, I agree with the idea that, while I don't really sit around shipping these two characters (and wouldn't have even thought about them together had the show not forced it), it's totally worth it for Charlie's reactions. The hotel room/phone call scene was golden. Totally one of my favorites of this series. His shouting "telephone" was awesome.

Thanks for the "Real Genius" quotes, btw. My favorite is now and always will be the "did you know there's a guy living in our closet?" exchange, but I guess that didn't actually involve Jerry. I just felt like thinking about it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

My favorite is now and always will be the "did you know there's a guy living in our closet?" exchange, but I guess that didn't actually involve Jerry.

Oh, if we're expanding it to dialogue from Atherton movies that didn't involve Atherton, we could be here all day. The bit about the guy in the closet is always quotable, as is the one about hammering the six-inch spike through the board, Kent being naked with the bowl of Jello, Chris describing his dream, "Rue the day," etc., etc., etc.

And God help me if I get on a non-Atherton "Ghostbusters" or "Die Hard" run. I'd never get anything done.

Unknown said...

The pictured scene with Sarah Shahi in her underwear does not justify the story and character changes they have made. But taken on its own merits, I really enjoyed it.

The dinner scene was hilarious. The show does "awkward" very well. And another of Dani's "Did you call me...?"

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it but ... is Ziggy going to have some involvement in the overall plot? Otherwise, seemed like a lot of intro for no payoff (the fact that she's not a brother, and her seemingly being in charge of Evil).

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this episode very much. But I thought William Atherton was wasted -- because the whole "Who conspired to frame Crews?" plotline is pretty much useless, especially when compared to the rest of the show.

I'm still not entirely sold on the Reese-Tidwell relationship, especially since their big scene together this week played out like a beer commercial. But at least it distracts from the ridiculously high attractiveness quotient when Reese and Crews are together.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 6:46 PM

Yeah, what was the point of that Eval and Ziggy stuff? Red herring? What was that message that Hawes left for the Tribal cops about then ("Guns, money, and Eval")? Just a separate, completely unrelated crime?

And the whole false identity main plot was pretty thin too. So we're to believe that Anna Lakeland's father pretended to be a tribe member for 20-plus years in the hopes of getting a cut of the money from a casino that was probably not even under consideration when he moved there? There's gotta be better scams than that. And he killed Hawes when he threatened to reveal his and his daughter's true identity before its opening? Hawes is looking to protect the interests of the tribe, yet they all hate him? You would think that he would want the only one there who doesn't hate him to benefit from this newfound wealth, despite her lack of native blood.

This was definitely one of the funniest episodes but the logic of the crime plot was not worked out well and it took away from my enjoyment of the program.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The dad said it didn't start out as a scam, that in fact he never anticipated a circumstance arising where Anna's parentage might be legally questioned.

Anonymous said...

@Alan Sepinwall

OK, fine. I guess I didn't catch that. But it still doesn't explain why Hawes did what he did. If he has this antagonistic relationship with the tribe members, why create problems for his "surrogate" daughter and her father? It likely also means that the only person looking out for him would have to move off the res and away from him.

Anonymous said...

Agree -- a very good episode. Reese/Tidwell still grosses me out -- she's way too hot and he's way too greasy -- but at least she got him to get a hair cut.

Life did well in the ratings last night (8.1) so that's great. Obviously the the X-mas special lead in and unorthodox competition helped, but hopefully people will keep coming back.

Unknown said...

Good on 'Life' I'm so glad it's able to get high ratings. I hope it keeps up.

While I enjoyed the episode I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable at this year's objectification of women. I had no qualms with the scene in the Hotel room because of Charlie's discomfort.

This show used to be so good with how they handled women.

I miss how Dani used to be an awesome, complicated cop who happens to be a woman.

Also, I still don't get the Reese-Tidwell relationship. They've put her on the background so much that I don't even get her emotional temperature, unlike last year where you could tell what she was feeling or going through.

UnwantedTouching said...

I'm sorry, but speaking for most male (neanderthal-like chauvinist pig) watchers of this show, the underwear scene with Sarah Shahi forgives a whole lot. I'd say it forgives all the sacrifices to the integrity of Reese's character. I'd say it forgives the annoying, tired cliche of fat guy-hot chicks connecting. Speaking of that, I'd say it even forgives the 8th season of TV's version of chronic back pain, "According to Jim." Hell, I'm thinking it even almost justifies the atrocities known as "Fox reality programming."

My DVR is bulging at 98%. I'd get some breathing room by deleting this hour of HD content off the DVR, but I'm looking at the other 95% of content for deletion before this one. If only I could edit this recording so I could keep 30 seconds out of the 60 minutes from this recording on this DVR.

I hate you, Cox Communications DVR.

fred said...

Well, I would both agree & disagree with you.

I agree that the show has become the funniest cop-drama on TV, but I disagree that by doing so episodes have been satisfying.

The thing is, I think I have a problem, because to me it's really starting to feel like a problem now, sadly : I watched, loved, and remember the first season.

The first season of Life was not good, it was brilliant. And it knew how not to take itself too seriously, how to be light and funny, hilarious even at times, but there was an undeniable intensity, seriousness, a darkness to the show and to its characters.

And I miss that. I miss Charlie being Zen because it was part of who he was, because he had to not to let anger ruins his life, and fall back into a world of chaos and violence. This duality, in him but also in Dani (and in the show as a whole), was so brilliantly done during the first season, and that's why I love it so much.

But now, now Charlie is Zen because he used to be, so it's still there, he's Zen because it's a "cool thing" -- that's what it's been reduced to, a cool thing.

The show has always been funny, but now it's almost turning into a comedy. And it's not that such a show can't be good, it's that it is not the show I fell in love with...

My complete review of Life: Evil... And His Brother Ziggy.

PS: Wasn't "brother" Ziggy a great and intriguing character, even if she only had a very short on-screen time?

Anonymous said...

If you're trying to understand why the producers of "Life" felt we could believe Donal logue (aka 'Tidwell') landing a hottie like Sarah Shahi, it's because of this brilliant little Indie film, "The Tao of Steve":

I'm just wondering if this movie has anything to do with it because the entire premise of the film is about this fat, schlubby, loser (played by Logue) who keeps bedding the hottest women around because he subscribes his life philosophies to Steve McQueen.

And it's impossible to call this a bad episode if Sarah Shahi is in her underwear. Two days later, that image is still happily stuck in my brain.

jengod said...

Show is getting so good.

guinness said...

I believe the whole Tidwell and Dani romance. Well, I believe it for one reason only, Dani is in self-destruct mode. After she found out the truth about her father, she's changed. I think it explains a lot of her actions the last few episodes...

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying each and every second Tidwell is on screen.
And when I see him with Dani I enjoy this show even more.
And when I saw Dani *on* him I screamed "YES YES YES, OMG YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!".

*stops jumping*

Tidwell (and Crews, of course) makes me LOL, and their "interaction" in the hotel room was PRICELESS.

I thought Tiwell was perv enough to avoid calling her "dude" again, just to, you know, fuck her...but he turned out so IDIOT! I couldn't actually believe he did what he did.
He had Dani naked, clutched, aroused in his arms...and he made that big mistake...
I think it must be an important issue to understand Tidwell's temper. I don't want to believe that the writers simply didn't have another pretext to split them this time...

neglectarino said...

I don't find the Tidwell-Reese romance to be so far out there.

This is how I see it: He bragged about having several loving ex-wives, while coming across as a delusional slob. But he was so persistent, so insistent that at some point Reese began to wonder "Is he really delusional or am I missing something here?"

And once she started to look a little bit closer (or with a less skeptical eye)--if, for no other reason, than to see what in the world several other seemingly rational women would see in him--then she began to see it too.

And maybe he wasn't so deluded after all.

That's my take.

Sleepyhead said...

I think Eval and his "brother" Ziggy were such colorful, interesting characters, and so barely used in this episode, that I am sure they will be back later in the season. Maybe even involved in the Jack Reese/William Atherton stuff. This episode just served to introduce them.