Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life, "Shelf Life": See my vest! See my vest! Made from real gorilla chest!

Spoilers for last night's "Life" coming up just as soon as I trip a few alarms...

Where I thought parts of the previous Reese-lite episode worked, I found most of "Shelf Life" to be either dull or, when it came to the conspiracy arc, confusing.

On the confusion front, I thought I was paying close attention and I have absolutely no idea how or why the obnoxious military wannabe helped Charlie and Ted get over on the film noir insurance investigator, and the pleasure of seeing Damian Lewis play opposite his wife again wasn't enough to overcome my dumbsquizzlement.

Meanwhile, I feel like these two episodes where Crews was paired with Stark were a missed opportunity. Because he spent so much of the abbreviated first season as a red herring for the conspiracy, and because he's been off to the side so much this season, there hasn't been much opportunity to see him and Crews dealing with each other without the shadow of Stark's possible guilt hanging over them. I think they could have delved a little deeper into how Bobby feels about having given up on his partner, or just the awkwardness that comes from Bobby having lived a life for the 12 years Charlie was away, or anything with more weight than the brief reference to Charlie watching home movies in his head while he was locked up.

I don't know how much of these scripts were written before the producers knew they'd have to put Sarah Shahi off to the side for a while. But obviously, some rewriting got done, so there was a chance to put more of that material in. Instead, Stark goes back to uniform, Crews gets a new temporary partner next week, and the show will likely be canceled before there's another chance to give these two some extended screentime together. Ah, well.

Finally, since William Atherton was technically credited as a guest star, and appeared for all of two seconds in the surveillance footage of him with Reese, does that mean I need to continue with my pledge to include an Atherton-related '80s movie quote? So continue to quote I shall, once again returning to the bottomless well that is "Real Genius" (and if you haven't rented that movie by now, I don't know what to tell you), with Atherton as Dr. Jerry Hathaway talking to the mother of young genius Mitch Taylor:
Mrs. Taylor: Dr. Hathaway, I saw your program on radioactive isotopes last night, and I've got a question.
Jerry Hathaway: Yes?
Mrs. Taylor: Is that your real hair?
Jerry Hathaway: Tell me something. Is Mitch by any chance adopted?
Mrs. Taylor: Why, no!
Jerry Hathaway: Amazing.
Mrs. Taylor: Isn't it?
What did everybody else think?


Jeff L said...

Yeah, that sucked.

Two weeks ago, Bobby was an idiot, but the interplay between Charlie & Bobby was fun, and funny. This time "dull" is exactly the right word.

David Coleman said...

The part where Stark walks in on Charlie talking to Reese on speakerphone was pretty clever. The main story, however, was just not that interesting. And the only really cool visual that the show did was Crews seeing the approaching bad guys in the girl's sunglasses. Compared to some of the other work they've done the past two seasons, that was pretty tame. Have you given up all hope on a renewal, Alan?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Have you given up all hope on a renewal, Alan?

Pretty much. Next week it's going to have to go against "Idol" and a new "Lost." The only thing it has going for it is that NBC/Universal owns it, and that the network has talked about having more shows share timeslots next season to avoid repeats. So there's a chance, I guess, that they could order 13 episodes.

Shawn Anderson said...

I guess now we know what happened to Josie (Valarie Rae Miller) from Reaper. She gave up law and joined the military.

Anonymous said...

They either need to eliminate Sarah Shahi or incorporate her, but the phone calls where she was shot from the rack up was pointless. If Cruise is working with a different partner, that should be the dynamic. The joke with the two guys both walking in as he ended the call was kind of funny, but not enough to justify including Shahi.

Is it a spoiler to talk about the actor hired to play his new partner next week? Without specifying who it is, I find that actor/actress to be pretty much a blank. Nothing he/she has done in their career has stood out or made me want to see more from them, and I can't imagine that actor/actress bringing anything interesting to the dynamic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Andrew, casting's often a gray area, but here I'm fine with it. We know Crews is getting a new partner, so it's not a shock to say that it's Gabrielle Union.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I guess now we know what happened to Josie (Valarie Rae Miller) from Reaper.

I knew I knew her from somewhere! It had just been so long since she was on "Reaper" that I had forgotten her.

Robert said...

From an economic standpoint, how much costly is it to order four 13 week shows compared to two 20-24 week shows? It at least would solve the rerun problem. And may it would help keep non-mainstream shows like Life and Pushing Daises (@#$@$*%*& at ABC) alive.

Of course being ancient, I remember when 40-50 episodes was a season...back when the stars didn't want to do other projects over break (or perhaps want is the wrong word and didn't have opportunity would be closer). The shorter seasons would offer the actors a better opportunity for other work too.

Then again, how many broadcast networks will be left 5-10 years from now?

dfgdfg said...

Back to Miller's role here... she says, at one point, "I get what I get and I don't get upset," which I had to rewind and wake my wife up to hear. Normally, she's pretty upset when I do this, but this warranted a giggle because it's a phrase our 4-year old learned in preschool -- via his teacher, via the book Pinkalicious.

We've always assumed this phrase had other origins, as it seems too obvious for it not to be older than from this relatively new book (2006). But I've searched the glorious internet and the phrase keeps coming back to this book. Anyone heard this phrase before?

Carolyn said...

I honestly didn't think it was that bad. Not any worse than all the rest of this season.

Or to put it another way

I thought season 1 of this show was excellent, brilliant, insightful TV.

And I think season 2 has been truly mediocre. So, not a great episode. But for what has become a mediocre show? It was fine. Just as so-so as the rest of this season has been.

I'm sad. I loved this show last year.

Carolyn said...

@ drake lelane: thanks!! i couldn't figure out where i knew her from!!

Anonymous said...

"Like my loafers? Former gophers."

My attention is increasingly focused elsewhere while the show is on and it's becoming very difficult to follow what's going on.

Taleena said...

You know I just started watching Life on DVD so I skimmed so as to not spoil myself but I must, must say: "Like My sweater , there's no better than authentic Irish Setter"

Anonymous said...

I thought this episode was definitely a meat & potatoes one. I agree that they missed an opportunity with Crews and his old partner, in delving deeper. I would rather they work together instead of a new character coming aboard. But, I also am trying to just enjoy the few remaining episodes before the inevitable cancellation.

Anonymous said...

There didn't seem to be much point to getting Reese involved in the conspiracy at this late date... especially if there won't be time for it to go anywhere before the show ends. (Sarah Shahi was already looking really different -- not that I ever look at her that closely or anything.)

I was relieved that Ted was obviously in on the investigator's game, after seeming like such a patsy last week. Maybe it helped that Adam Arkin directed this episode.

By the way, "Real Genius" will be airing on the G4 network a week from Friday.

Anonymous said...

Have liked this show a lot but it realy struggles with out to great cruise/reese dynamics. The thing where she hanged up and bobby and her boyfriend walked in was kind a fun but they should ditch the phone part its just plain bad.

I didnt get why weird hair girl made a 180 and gave evreything she had about the dead boat guy cop(dont remeber the name right now) like you alan. Thought they would show some survelience on the tv when she broke in to charlies secreat room but they didnt and then she just talked. Did make as much sense as why they should get reese in to the conspiracy with 5 cops that gained something from the big bank robbery.

And this weeks side story with bad wests and the revenge wasnt very god either.

Hope they can finish the season strong but with reese on the sideline i dont think it will happen.

spiderpig said...

Valarie Rae Miller will always be "Original Cindy" from Dark Angel to me. She even played a similar character in this one I was half expecting her to start calling Charlie "Boo".

I can almost deal with Reese being missing if Charlie got to work with Starks, but next week we won't even have that. Bummer. I do like Gabrielle Union, though, so I'll at least give her a chance.

The one who is sorely out of place without Reese on the show is Tidwell. I loved the part where he said "Reese told me to ask you what you see" and then "Reese said you'd probably say that" when Charlie gave him his typical Charlie-speak answer. I really think Donal Logue is slumming on this show and I wish they would give him more to do. I still miss The Knights of Prosperity. Sigh.