Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life, "5 Quarts": Death becomes her

I would do a full review of last night's "Life," but it would just be a rehash of things I've been saying the last few weeks: the case didn't really make sense, the show is suffering badly because Sarah Shahi's pregnancy is keeping Crews and Reese apart, and Ted seems to exist in an entirely different show. So rather than waste time expanding on those same points over and over, I'll just ask: what did everybody else think?


afoglia said...

Yeah, same for me. And thanks to either Comcast or WNBC, there was this great moment: Charlie and partner tell the restaurant owner to show what he has behind his back. He slowly moves his hand and it's... it's... offscreen!! (Someone is zooming in on the letterbox shows, and it's annoying me.)

Anyway, I can't tell whether Reese is actually going to San Diego, or if the FBI's kidnapping her? I think they were hinting at the latter.

Bob Timmermann said...

The implication to me was that the FBI was taking Reese somewhere that was definitely not San Diego. They wouldn't have sat her between two people in an SUV with tinted windows.

Anonymous said...

I think it's building up to something really great... It's just taking forever to get there. In the meantime I ignore the murder solving and remain completely charmed by Crews.

Jeff L said...

I sure hope it's building to something great, cuz right now it's just boring boring boring.

I assume the ratings are still in the toilet, so it's really too bad that what was once such a fun ride going out as a total snooze-fest.

Anonymous said...

Yep to everything... that's about right.

Although I have to admit that I'm liking Gabrielle Union more and more, even if her character doesn't make much sense.

The Rush Blog said...

Wow! You really must dislike Gabrielle Union, don't you?

Frankly, I don't see much difference in the chemistry between her and Lewis and the chemistry between Lewis and the actress who plays Reese. The only exception seemed to be that the writers have some sort of sexual chemistry between Crewes and Reese.

Is that what you wanted? A repeated sexual chemistry between Lewis and Union?

The Rush Blog said...

If the ratings are in the toilet, you can count on this being the last season for LIFE. Too bad. The show gets axed because the leading lady got pregnant. But I thought this series was supposed to be about Damian Lewis' character.

Ross said...

i really want to like this show; however, the thing that bothers me the most is the way the case is handled because this is the majority of each episode. given the competition it faces from other procedurals the case for the episode should be the one thing that every viewer should be able to understand. i don't know how a casual viewer could understand and enjoy what the heck is going on this week. i keep wondering if the messy handling of the weekly cases is purposeful - "maybe we can stand out if we confuse folk. it is working for 'lost'." - or is the result of lazy writing - "okay, we got this quirky scene and this quirky scene. why do we need to properly segue between them? 'las vegas' got five seasons this way." either way, it has to be costing itself viewers. given that it is followed by law and order who has been able to crank out self-contained episodes that are complex but not illogical for years, life just seems like it is wasting my time each week. well that is until it crams all of the much more interesting stuff into the final three minute music montage of each episode.

(maybe i'm just frustrated becuase the cleaver was offscreen on my television too. is this the harshest punishment for having standard definition?)

that said, i really do hope that it is building toward something good. damien lewis deserves better and sarah shahi deserves to return from pregnancy purgatory.

(seriously, why can't she be on the show the way she was before? how tough is it to work around a pregnancy? you sit more. you stand behind things. you hold things in front of you. you don't throw away the screen time and ultimately the chemistry between the two leads by making them talk over the phone for less than a minute an episode. that isn't why i'm watching. this san diego road trip better be awesome.)

i kinda like the gabrielle union character if only for the moments when crews mentions that she is also a lawyer. it is so self-aware that is funny. i'm surprised damien lewis doesn't look into the camera when he says it. plus it's nice when she does paper work in a linda hamilton-esque white cotton tank top. it isn't logical, but it's a great visual when you're ignoring whatever adam arkin is doing.

and yes, i really want to like this show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is that what you wanted? A repeated sexual chemistry between Lewis and Union?

I actually don't think there's any sexual chemistry between Lewis and Shahi, which is one of the many things I like about their partnership. The two actors work very well together, but the show makes it clear early and often that Reese and Crews would never think of each other That Way. The way the two feed off each other as partners and as (sort of) friends really helps carry the show when the case is as confusing as it was this week, or as it's been for a good chunk of this season -- take that away by physically separating them, and it becomes much more obvious that the case isn't very interesting.

I like Gabrielle Union just fine, but it took Lewis and Shahi a while to build up that rapport, and by the time Lewis and Union have a chance to do the same, she'll be gone, and/or the show will be over.

Anonymous said...

It's common knowledge that Life's chances of renewal are shaky. My question to you is this: Is it really more economical for a network to ax a show like Life and start production on a new show that may or may not work? I would think it would make more sense to keep a show like Life (and Friday Night Lights), that really needs better promotion, or possibly a better time slot, more than anything.

For the record, I like Union much more than I thought I would. She isn't a weak link by any stretch. In fact, I would enjoy having her part of the squad even when Reese returns.

Anonymous said...

Yes, even as an extremely devoted life viewer, I get angry and frustrated too with the latest developments. However, because I am a fanatical viewer, rather than a casual one, I can put up with the seemingly endless quirks the show has taken since "trapdoor." I still believe the greatest reason for the decline is that Mr. Ravitch must have been ordered by NBC to change the tenor of the show; less conspiracy, and more traditional cop stuff. I will be heartbroken (and I am afraid that it's coming) that SouthLAnd will be taking its place in NBC's fall lineup. We don't need any more cops/doctors/lawyers shows. When you have something that can be a different spin on an old formula (i.e., Life or Pushing Daisies) it seems like a network has no idea of what to do with it,
Yes, I know it is a business, and ratings matter very much, but either shows shouldn't be green-lighted or the creator should be allowed to do it his/her way, to see if it actually can capture and grow an audience.
Finally, I did like this week's episode, with all of its faults, because I didn't see the photographer as the murderer, and the use of the strobe light, and Gabrielle Union's disturbed confidence as a result of the end of the case helped restore the humanity that I always find refreshing as part of the show.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a good episode. There was some misdirection with the celebrity chef's death and the photographer certainly did a quick 180 into crazy but all in all I thought it was cool. The FBI stuff with Reese being suspicious of Crews and visa versa was great. Agent Bodner gave us some tasty stuff and the end with Reese getting into the van with the bad guys was awesome. DUH DUH DUH!!
I thought the stuff with Ted, his daughter, and the jerky son-in-law was hilarious.

Number Five said...

The party in the morgue was completely implausible even for television, a classic case of doing something because it would look cool without actually thinking about it.

But the sequence at the end with the flash bulbs was a classic and a great homage to the ending of Rear Window. The brightening/dimming effect on the camera we the audience were watching through was done very well too.

I liked the realistic nerves Gabrielle Union's character showed after shooting the murderer. On the other hand, it was odd for her to cite the (probably real) 97% statistic when on Life, as on other TV shows, detectives fire their weapons and get into mortal danger with alarming regularity.

To answer mjryan's question, when a show's ratings get as low as Life's, it does make sense to cancel and try something new. Most new shows fail, but some succeed, whereas Life's ratings are too low to make any money and the odds its ratings will go up are effectively zero. It's a shame, although I'd probably miss it more if the network hadn't interfered as Anonymous notes, including slowing the conspiracy storyline to a total crawl.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I stopped watching about five episodes ago and probably won't be back. This is deeply sad for me as I think "Life" was one of the best dramas on the air last year. It was different than a lot of other procedurals in that it used it's characters as real people, with real reactions. There was continuity, consequences to actions, and a thread of emotional connection that has been sorely lacking in recent years.

That has not been the case of this season. Slowly but surely, all of the personal (and, to me, interesting) has been gutted out of the cases and show, leaving a shaky procedural and an even shakier conspiracy.

Unknown said...

just out of curiosity, does anyone know the name of the actress that plays ann, ted early's daughter?