Life s1 ep 11

The season-ender, and the story of Charlie Crews’s framing finally moved front and centre. While the rest of the team was off dealing with a slightly irrelevant subplot involving a cannabis factory and an escaped snake, Charlie was pursuing those responsible for the killing of his friends. To the credit of the writers the ending was satisfying without being entirely neat.

We also got a final opportunity to reflect on the quality of Damian Lewis’s performance, which has had depth and subtlety throughout the series. This episode helped to provide an answer to the question of whether Crews’s whimsicality was entirely genuine, or at least in part artifice to provide protection from the world. Looks like the latter.

An excellent end, then, to an above-average police procedural. Worth watching when it comes to FX.

Life s1 ep 10

Just a bit of a letdown this time, as the remains of someone buried alive are unearthed. Crews is also getting closer to solving the murder he was wrongly convicted of.

The main plot, however, followed the ‘Cold Case’ model as Crews and Reese circled round a few suspects (the first of whom was played by our old friend Jude Ciccolella, formerly President David Palmer’s go-to-guy Mike Novick in ’24’), each of whom added a bit more to their story on the second visit, ending up back where they started. Not bad, but not inspired.

Life s1 ep 8; s1 ep 9

Yup.  As friend of the blog Olive (aka Gracie-Lou) suggested, I definitely checked out of ‘Life’ at the wrong time.  On top of episodes 6 and 7, these two episodes showcased ‘Life”s increasing sure-footedness and confidence.

Episode 8 was a tricky little number in which the murder victim was an ostensibly ordinary man who turned out to be leading the most spectacular of double lives, including two wives who seemed to be unaware of the existence of each other.   Meantime, the lead detective on the case which led to Charlie Crews’s conviction was found murdered.  Suspicion, of course, fell on Charlie himself, who at the same time had to finish his main case, now with a Unabomber-alike angle to it.  And it all ended with a well-judged twist.  Great stuff.

Episode 9 combined two stories, but did so with such skill that there was no whiff of strain about it.  To start with, the murder of a teenager had to be solved.  That having been done, however, the episode picked up a peripheral plot thread and turned in another direction entirely.  The writers also deserve credit for eschewing what might have been an easy ending in favour of a more complex one.

So, yes, I was wrong.  ‘Life’ is undoubtedly worth following, and for those of you who haven’t the whole of season 1 is being repeated on FX from February 9.

Life s1 ep 6; s1 ep 7

Hmm.  Looks like I picked the wrong time to stop watching ‘Life’, as both of these episodes were excellent.

Episode 6, perhaps the strongest of the series so far, had an satisfactorily grubby plot about a sexual predator Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) meets at one of her AA meetings.

Episode 7 wasn’t quite as good – an apparent race hate double murder which is, in fact, about drugs and money – but it had two guest stars who gave it an estimable advantage over episode 6.  Firstly, our old friend Sarah Clarke appeared as the owner of the gas station where the slaying took place.  Ms Clarke used to be the fabulous, and fabulously evil, Nina Myers in ’24’ – a sort of Servalan de nos jours.  And secondly, the wonderful Christina Hendricks popped up in her minor recurring part as Olivia, soon to be Charlie Crews’s stepmother.  Ms Hendricks is, of course, the fabulous and – actually, just fabulous – Joan Holloway in Unpopcult favourite ‘Mad Men’.  She is also the sexiest female presence on American TV just now (Tina Fey, possibly, aside).

So my season ticket to ‘Life’ has been renewed.  Oh dear.  More catching up to do.

Life s1 ep 5

A striking opening this week as a couple of white feathers float to the ground, followed by a young woman wearing angel wings.  Actually, she doesn’t float so much as plummet.  The investigation leads to a racket in which Russian women seduce and marry rich older men, run by a shadowy gangster.

This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  The major plus point for ‘Life’ remains the performance of Damian Lewis, by turns intense and whimsical.  But take that away and you’re left with standard police procedural fare.  I’m not sure if ‘Life’ will feature here again.

Life s1 ep 4

Victim lying dead. Distressed husband nearby. The variation on the theme this week is that the victim was also male: so at least the deceased, this being California, didn’t live to see the triumph of the appalling Proposition 8. Anyway, the snappy and economic telling of this tale made it the best of the season so far, with lots of plausible suspects for Charlie Crews and partner Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), including a homeless guy who claims to have seen the murder and who evolves an unusual but endearing friendship of sorts with Charlie.

Muddying the emotional water further this week is Charlie’s moderately-hot-but-married attorney Connie, who makes it clear that her interest in Charlie goes beyond the professional; Charlie, for now, is moralistic enough to resist, his needs being attended to by the constant stream of bimbos through his palatial front doors, but you feel that we haven’t seen the last of this particular plot thread.

I’m still not quite as excited as I should be by the “who really committed Charlie’s murder” plotline, but at least it’s starting to pick up a bit of momentum. As is the show as a whole.

Life s1 ep 3

So here’s the set-up: dead wife, husband nearby covered in blood… hang about, haven’t we done this? Last week? Well, yes, but this variation on the theme was done with significantly more elan and moral ambiguity. Meantime the Big Plot – who committed the murder Charlie was wrongly convicted of? – started to snap into focus this week, providing further evidence that ‘Life’ is finding its feet.

All of this was underpinned, as ever, by the weirdly compelling performance of Damian Lewis as Charlie Crews, which lifts this show away from the average police procedural. And the shot of Charlie and Ted behind their coyote fence was a masterful stroke which the director had enough confidence not to dwell on.  Getting better.