Thursday, February 12, 2009

Life, "Mirror Ball": The big bapple

Spoilers for last night's "Life" coming up just as soon as I try to avoid making a Sharpie reference...

Since Crews spends much of "Mirror Ball" trying to give Reese a nickname, I may as well come up with my own moniker for this type of episode, which featured a lot of good comedy, very little conspiracy arc content (they could have easily deleted the interlude of Crews studying Roman's photo without affecting anything else), but enough Zen qualities to feel like an episode of the show. "Life" Light? "Life" With Laughs? Doc?

I wouldn't want this level of wackiness every week, but when they do them from time to time (see also "Evil... And His Brother Ziggy" or "Badge Bunnies"), they can be almost as satisfying in their own way as the more epic episodes like "Trapdoor."

All the running jokes were working well in this one -- "Bapple?," the uncapping of the Sharpie, Doc, Patty the redhead's split personalities with and without the makeup -- and yet the case felt very much like a "Life" case, and the use of some of the greatest hits of the hair band era (particularly the epic piano intro on "Sister Christian") in lieu of the show's usual indie pop soundtrack was a nice touch.

I only have two complaints. One is my ongoing cringe reflex whenever the show uses too much of its cheapo green screen tech, as it did both during the opening car scene and in the montage of Jude wannabes showing up at Crews' doorstep. The other was the lame fakeout of Tidwell saying "You know I love you" to his bottles of booze as he poured them out. Reese's realization of what he was doing, and why, was a very nice moment -- one of the few that had me more than tolerating this whole relationship -- and yet the fakeout soured the taste of it for me. Tidwell's enough of That Guy that he might have some kind of running monologue as he poured out the liquor, but to use the exact words that would give Dani the wrong idea was just dumb.

Oh, and I almost forgot: big props to them for casting Patrick Fabian in a murder mystery and not having him be the killer for once.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Not looking good for you Life fans...even worse numbers than Knightrider!

And to any Life on Mars fans (like me), another terrible night for our show as well. Looking like bye-bye to both...*SIGH*

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, it's doomed. Of that I have no doubt. I'm just enjoying it while it's on.

And I sure hope it's on long enough for them to stop teasing us with Olivia references and put Christina Hendricks back on screen, dammit.

Speaking of which, I neglected to quote my favorite line of the episode, courtesy of Crews Sr.: "What kind of a house is this? You gonna shoot me, too?"

Anonymous said...

I didn't get the painted car. Who was that who borrowed it?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Crews gives her the car in the first season finale while he's on the run from the law.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, Fienberg points out that my praise of Fabian's use as a red herring may be unnecessary, in that many of his recent guest roles have been as red herring rather than as killer. Ah, well.

Sean P. Carr said...

I'm still confused about one thing. WHO did Crews loan the car to? I couldn't quite place her. That tacked-on return at the end of the episode seemed so odd.

And speaking of the missing Olivia, how about we see a return of Charlie's lovely lawyer?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Again, he loaned it to some random blonde he met at a red light while on the run during the first season finale. She said she liked the car, and he gave it to her, because he knew the cops would be looking for him in it.

Ffej L said...

I love this show, and I agree this was a good episode as far as the humor went. But the who-done-it was so poorly done it soured me on the episode.

I still don't quite understand. Jude Whatever isn't really dead, he's the homeless guy? So he faked his death 30 years before, but now he's pissed other people are pretending to be him? But rather then reveal himself (which would clearly put him right back in the spotlight), he kills the impersonators? Huh? Doesn't really add up.

And has no one on the show ever heard of Google or Wikipedia? Figuring out the answer to celebrity trivia takes about 30 seconds of web-surfing these days.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And has no one on the show ever heard of Google or Wikipedia?

Betcha Crews hasn't.

Hoof Hearted said...

I've only been watching Life for a few weeks now and have really been enjoying it, but this was the first episode that I thought was disappointing. I found the humor to be kinda amusing, but no more than that. And the plot was very weak and some of the reveals were very predictable. Was I the only one that figured out that the original singer was not dead (when everybody had a different version of how he died)?

Typical TV stuff for sure, but I expect more from Life. It is usually much smarter than that.

Anonymous said...

..."Oh, it's doomed. Of that I have no doubt. I'm just enjoying it while it's on."

But it's up against American Idol and Lost? I see so many headlines for those two shows it's as though they are the only two shows on the air. I thought I read NBC had great faith in Life. But how many (thinking people) are going to choose it over AI or Lost?

My sister and I have had a running "entertainment dentist" joke for years. Now I can tell her my #1 favorite show had an episode about one. I didn't think they actually existed.

I was dying to know Charlie's dad's reaction to Ted's proclamation of Olivia Love.

Hoof Hearted said...

"I was dying to know Charlie's dad's reaction to Ted's proclamation of Olivia Love."

Great point! This was on it's way to being the single best scene of the episode, and they cut it short! VERY frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Who played the rock star?

Anonymous said...

Yes, overall this was a weak episode. It still is my favorite show, and I would rather see a sub par "Life" than anything else that has been on TV since the demise of the wire except for "Mad Men." However Sarah Shahi's bewildered looks almost always leave me laughing, and every scene with Adam Arkin is a miniature treasure. Hopefully, NBC will keep the show, rather than bring in another insipid reality show to save a few bucks.

Anonymous said...

I liked the quote from the Bad Company song "shooting star" (though I do not think it was released until 74)...

"Love me do I think it was"

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the episode, but I found the varying recollections of how the rock star died to be a weak point. That folks couldn't remember the details of his death shouldn't logically lead to suspicions that it was faked. Quite the opposite -- if there wasn't anything peculiar about it that made it memorable, there's really no reason for suspicion.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying Life and will stay with it as long as NBC will run it for us.

Anonymous said...

I was so pleased with the music choices last night. Could you list the complete play list if possible.

Shawn Anderson said...

Here you go:

Playlist: Life - Episode 2.14 "Mirror Ball"
1. "Love Hurts" - Nazareth
2. "The Witch" - Clinic
3. "Psychotic Girl" - The Black Keys
4. "Sister Christian" - Night Ranger
5. "Here I Go Again" - Whitesnake

Anonymous said...

The biggest blow to Life's chances is undoubtedly Jay Leno's move to primetime. That's going to raise the ratings bar for what stays.

jcpbmg said...

I had trouble placing the girl (w the car) too

Also Prof Lashky was awesome as always

FlopEJoe said...

That folks couldn't remember the details of his death shouldn't logically lead to suspicions that it was faked

I thought that was a fun part of the ep. All the speculation is like the rumors that go around about celebrities all the time. "I heard he did X." "No, the way I heard it, Y happened." Probably no one gets it right because everyone is just repeating some mangled story heard from people who don't know the truth in the first place. And, in this case, all the death possibilities turned out to definitely be wrong.

But maybe it just tickled my sense of humor.

pgillan said...

I found it distracting that they created a fake-band that had a gimmick that's unique to a real-world band. In most other cases, you can justify the plot by saying it's vaguely reasonable that the band could co-exist with its real-world equivalent. In this case, it wasn't at all reasonable that a band that was such a blatant rip-off of "KISS" would ever reach the point of having ubiquitous impersonators.

Of course, you could always argue that this show exists in a world where there was no "KISS", only "Hot Lead", but I didn't find that any less distracting- the makeup and the outfits are too iconic. I think the show would have been better served by creating a fake-band with a slightly more generic signature.

I do respect that they never showed the fake-band performing, however. That was absolutely the right decision creatively.

pgillan said...

And has no one on the show ever heard of Google or Wikipedia?

I think this was reasonable. There was no reason to believe the original singer's death was in any way relevant. If you stop to look up the answer to every irrelevant question that comes up during the day, you'll never leave your house. Besides, you only do that when you think you might be wrong- the two guys who were arguing it at one point didn't look like the kind of guys who'd readily admit that. One of them was the Captain, right? He seems old-school pig-headed.

tabernacle said...

So, okay, now I know who the girl in the flower car was, but what was the significance of her showing up? What were they all doing there? And why is Ted proud of Crews? Because he rides a car riddled with bullet holes (when he could afford not to)?

I loved the whole scene with Crews, Sr., Ted, and Charlie. Payoff after payoff there, rat-a-tat.

Fruit question of the week: If the idea is to portmanteau "apple" and "pear," where does the /b/ phoneme come from for it to be "bapple"?

Nicole said...

Google and wikipedia aren't necessarily reliable sources, and certainly wouldn't be accepted in court as evidence of anything unless collaborated by another more reliable source. Plus Charlie is still amused by a cell phone with camera... he hasn't thought of that pop culture feature yet.

I liked this episode, especially the humour and soundtrack. Why can't they switch it to another less competitive time slot?

Unknown said...

Well I must say I'm shocked - As I was watching I laughed louder and louder at the multiple running duplicate name gags in the show. First it was "Doc" Crews saying hed be Doc, but no he couldn't because Reese was Doc and that'd be silly them having the same nickname (funny) and then the whole Doc scene repeating when Tidwell said he wouldn't mind a nickname of Doc - you cant it'd be silly you both being Doc - Oh well yeah... (even funnier).

Then the "Jude's" - all over the place - and the renaming of the first lead singer to Jude and several of Crews' several references to the name using it multiple times in the same sentence, winding up (with me in hysterics by now) with The Two Judes band being founded at the end.

And then on top of all that we had the Ted exchange - "Ted" .. "Ted"... I swear by then I was so close to wetting myself. Oh so not so, but actually very, subtle Life silliness at it's very best.

So I was certain when I finally got here to read your comments it would start ... "coming up just as soon as I change my name to Doc... or Jude... or Ted... "