Monday, April 06, 2009

Life, "Initiative 38": Little/big man

Belated spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Life" season two -- plus some non-spoiler-y thoughts from Rand Ravich and Damian Lewis on the season finale -- coming up just as soon as I run for Mayor...
"I need a bigger gun." -Charlie Crews
Sorry for the delay, but I didn't get to finish "Initiative 38" until the weekend, and I've been swamped with 16 other things. In fact, I really don't have the time now to be writing about it, but one of those 16 things was a conference call with Damian Lewis and Rand Ravich to discuss the season finale (which I have not seen), and I wanted to pass along a few of the things that came up, after first offering a brief take on the episode itself.

My comments of the post-Shahi-pregnancy episodes have been on lather-rinse-repeat mode, but there were improvements here. For one, with Gabrielle Union having a few episodes under her belt, she and Lewis are starting to work well together; Crews-Seever isn't Crews-Reese, but then, Crews-Reese wasn't Crews-Reese till at least halfway through that brief first season. For another, instead of stranding Ted in his own disconnected subplot (which Ravich admitted on the call that he hates to do), Ted got to be part of the attempt to find Dani, and Adam Arkin plays well off of Damian Lewis' wife.

Still, the murder case itself was as thin as most of them have been of late, particularly in the resolution. I just don't see how the conversation between the husband and the aide would be enough to nab either one, let alone both, on a murder charge.

But the brief glimpses of Crews (with help from Tidwell, Ted and, eventually, the mysterious Amanda) searching for his partner, and the realization that Roman is behind all of this, has me very geeked up for the finale, whether or not it's the end of the series (the more likely possibility) or just the season (hope hope hope). And speaking of which, a few paraphrased highlights from the call (in which Lewis used his native accent, to my surprise):

• Ravich said that he feels the finale will provide enough resolution to things that, "If this were it (cancellation), if I were a viewer I would not feel frustrated... There's still plenty of room to go on, still plenty of doors to open, but we do resolve a few things."

• Despite Amanda telling Ted that Olivia is somewhere in Italy, we won't be seeing Christina Hendricks again until/unless there's a third season. Sigh...

• Ravich said that, for the most part, the story arc of the back half of the season didn't change once Sarah Shahi got pregnant. The season was always heading to this ending, and they just had to rejigger things to get it to that point while Reese wasn't on camera as much.

• Neither man really has any idea whether there might be a third season. Ravich joked that "Life" might return as a series of 30-second interstitials during Jay Leno's new show.

• When one reporter asked for details on the finale, Lewis and Ravich went on a run of jokes about the "Life on Mars" ending. (Ravich: "He ends up on Mars." Lewis: "We've managed to work in time travel.")

Looking forward to the ending, whatever it is. Unfortunately, between the Passover holiday and the usual timeslot conflicts, I don't know exactly when I'll get around to watching and writing about it, but given the likelihood that this is the last episode of "Life" ever, I intend to write quite a bit more than I have lately.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty excited to see how things go down here. Truth of the matter is, I lost the plot of the conspiracy months ago, but am always glad to see Garrett Dillahunt on the screen (on this or any show). Roman Nebakov has made an interesting foil for Cruise.

Anonymous said...

It will be a crying shame if this is the end.

I just don't see how they will tie up enough loose ends to make me happy. Dani's whereabouts? Her dad? Roman?

Unknown said...

I enjoyed some elements of it, such as how they found the body, the "who'd be a better mayor" debate, etc. On the other hand, I wanted to roll my eyes at the predictability of "husband did it." I do like Seaver (Seever? which is it?), for what that's worth.

I do find it interesting that they planned on abducting Reese all along.

BigTed said...

I found this episode ridiculously entertaining, and I'd really hate for this show to go away. And that's even given the fact that I don't care much about how the underlying mystery is resolved, or whodunnit in the crime of the week. This show is all about the characters interacting and doing their jobs, and it's great at that.

If it is canceled, I'd like to propose making "Life" the basis of a movie or three. Damian Lewis would make a perfectly fine action star, and the plots could only be improved by more car chases and blowing stuff up.

sanford said...

I would agree with Big Ted on having a few two hour movies of Life. I disagree on the car chases. The show was never about that. I also agree that on how they resolved the case was not a big deal. The one thing about the show was how many different ways they found to murder some one. The show has always been about the characters.

Considering how bereft NBC is of ideas, I think they should consider bringing it back next fall or at the worst a mid season replacement.

I don't see how they resolve the plot lines in one hour.

Unknown said...

They really pulled the rug out from under the show after Season One. Basically, it came back as another show. A far inferior one at that. Love Damian Lewis. Love Charlie. But, Dani and Charlie and the Zen and the conspiracy made this show. What it's been about lately has been cringe-inducing and a testament of how NOT to change a good, smart show. I don't get people who like it better than Season One, but hey, it takes all kinds. I'd hate to see it cancelled, but I'd also hate to see it this bad for much longer.

Eugene Freedman said...

They've really drifted away from The Count of Monte Cristo and the wrongfully imprisoned, extremely wealthy, revenge seeker, to a regular cop show with a quirky lead detective. I still like the show, but they've left so much hanging that it's truly bothersome that this show will likely not be renewed. The plot just hasn't moved that much this season.

The same happened with Terminator as well. Both will end without any resolution. At least Journeyman had an explanation when it disappeared from the schedule.

I'll be down to no dramas, The Office, baseball, and news. Plus, NBC will only have Law and Order and Leno 5 days a week now. Boo!!

Number Five said...

After seeing how awesomely villainous that dude was on Dollhouse, I was expecting him to turn out bad. And Darby Stanchfield played sleazy really well too. On the other hand, it wasn't an especially interesting case and parts with the sister were nonsensical.

I'm with the others who still enjoy Life, but agree that it's largely missing the elements that made it so excellent last year, mostly the absurd slow roll on the conspiracy.

Having Garret Dillahunt out of jail for the finale should make it a lot more exciting...but how big a conspiracy do you need to say that an infamous Russian mobster was able to get someone to take his place in jail? I did get a nice Dark Knight-vibe from the prisoner laughing maniacally, though. I'm liking Seever more and Damien Lewis plays coldly dangerous Charlie really well...should be a great finale.

Dudleys Mom said...

You know, 'Life' is probably the show that is most consistently entertaining for me these days (with BSG gone). Yet...I fall for the hype and end up watching 'Lost' live and watching 'Life' either on my DVR or online. (Sometimes I purposely watch online so NBC is completely AWARE that this particular non-Nielsen viewer watches this show.) I guess I'm a sucker for the 'watercoolerness' of 'Lost', and by now it's a habit with me.

And I do have quibbles with 'Life' in its second season, and I suspect that it's network tinkering at work, tainting the elusive qualities that sucked me in in season one. But I would really really miss 'Life' if NBC cancels it. I think I could even deal with 'Life' if it totally cuts loose the conspiracy and just does stand alone mysteries with far more interesting characters than the other shows in this would still trump 95% of the other crime shows with one hand tied behind its back. See, for example: 'The Mentalist', which bores me to tears despite the supreme man-candy of its lead. (I miss 'The Guardian', shoot me.)

NBC did one brilliant thing recently by renewing 'FNL'. Let's see if they also do the right thing by renewing 'Life' and truly show a commitment to quality shows (in addition to their commitment to the bottom line with the relatively cheap and pablum-to-the-masses of Jay Leno along with the general surfeit of reality TV). Please prove me wrong, NBC. Act like a network again, and don't deserve the moniker, "Nothing But Crap".

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'll have what I need in this season finale. But I cannot wait to see it.
I loved the first season and I loved the second season too for different reason. Things grow and evolve and sometimes they just...change. It's a thing called "Life". I'd have hated (for example) see Dani's character fixed in her habits: she'd have become a "character part" instead of a character.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've even heard there's a chance it might be renewed. Unfortunately, now I REALLY have my hopes up, even though I know I'll probably be disappointed.

A little early, but happy pesach, Alan. Next year in Life (and Chuck, for that matter).

afoglia said...

I agree, it was a weak case. But at least the Reese stuff was better.

Alan, I know everyone asks this about every show on the bubble, but what are the chances that a cable network could pick it up? I could see this partnered with L&O:CI on USA, and then rerun on NBC. It's got to be cheaper to produce than most of the sci-fi shows people ask about.

PS: I hadn't seen Kevin Kilner in anything for so long, and suddenly he's in 4 episodes of 3 TV shows in 9 days.

brett said...

I love the song that plays at the beginning when they find the dead body in the hot tub…it’s “The World” by Earlimart and I was wondering if anybody could help me find a video clip? I just wrote about this song on my blog at and would love to include a video clip.

For some reason, they use a different song on the webcast vs. when it was actually on TV…the Earlimart song was only on the televised version. Thanks