I'm far from the biggest fan of legal procedurals (C.S.I., Law & Order), I find them to be too pat and sterile. Nor am I that fond of shows with quirky characters (House, Monk) as I find the personalities often overwhelm the stories.
But I fell in love with Life, a show about a quirky cop. It's the story of Charlie Crews, a wronged cop (he was framed for murder) who is struggling to find both answers and peace.
First and foremost, it's a well-written show. Every episode contains twists and turns, but they never feel forced. Things make sense and nothing ever feels too extra. The cops are grim and gritty and the crooks aren't glib.
The characters are fleshed out and really do transcend their quirks. The actors all do a fine job of making sure that things never get too cute. Damian Lewis plays Charlie Crews as a man who did what he needed to do to survive prison and found salvation trying to achieve Zen. He plays up the darkness that he's capable of, so despite the lighter moments you never forget where the character's been.
Sarah Shahi plays Dani Reese, his put upon partner.
She struggles with getting respect and with her own personal demons. But the way that Shahi plays scenes and expresses Reese's frustration is really noteworthy. She's such a believable character.
Donal Logue appears as Captain Kevin Tidwell.
He does the "boss" thing nicely. But, at least to me, he plays it like a grown up version of his 90's character of "Jimmy the Cab Driver", who was probably the best thing on MTV at the time. I miss Jimmy the Cab Driver.
Because of Shahi's real life pregnancy, Reece's screen time has diminished.
Gabrielle Union joined the cast as Crews temporary partner, Jane Seever, who's every much the character that Charlie Crews is.
They make for a great team and it's as fluid a transition as I've ever seen.
Life is one of the few shows that debuted during the strike shortened 2007-2008 season that's still on the air. I'm an optimist; I truly believe that Life will return next season.
And I don't normally do this, but since Life isn't a serial, here's an episode that I really enjoyed. If you've got 40-odd minutes, check it out.