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113
4.5 out of 5 stars
Life Season 1 [DVD]
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fresh out of prison and now back in the force, Charlie Clews has been cleared of the murders that caused his incarceration. Colleagues are wary. Is he truly innocent? Even if so, surely he must be unstable after twelve years amongst vicious criminals who at one time or other broke virtually every bone in his body? Certainly he seems more than a trifle erratic, prone to eating much fruit and spouting enigmatic philosophy. His assigned partner Dani Reese, just out of rehab and anxious to prove she is again up to the job, fears he will prove a hindrance. Others may have greater cause for concern. Charlie has a hidden agenda, exposing the ones responsible for those killings and for framing him. They HAVE to be fellow officers.

The stage is thus set for eleven episodes and many intriguing cases - that bigamous tax man, for example, with his lower half vaporized; not to mention the woman wearing angel's wings who plummeted onto a car roof.

Damian Lewis is yet another fine British actor thoroughly at home in a major American role. It is a fascinating one too. Charlie's prison experiences have caused him to delve deeply into himself, he now with great insight - skilled at seeing beyond the facade. Head gently tilting sideways, he gazes through eyes - right into the soul. He also has many highly useful extra contacts, invaluable for helping to cut a corner or two. Best mate is fellow ex-convict Ted Earley (Adam Arkin), finance his speciality. Ideal, for somehow money seems behind those murders so many years ago. The trail goes back to an earlier bank raid where several were shot dead and eighteen million dollars were stolen. There IS a connection and Charlie WILL find it.

Admittedly the series has its creaky moments. Those Zen utterances, meant to be so MEANINGFUL, at times prove a bit tedious. Also there are aspects that puzzle. Why did it take so long for Charlie's innocence to be proved? Who runs the mansion and orange grove bought with his compensation money? (Not just Ted surely?) Why at the end is that major villain not arrested?

Minor matters! Much was enjoyed, appetite well and truly whetted for Season 2.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Damian Lewis, one of Britain's hottest stars (both professionally and physically), is in a new American TV show called "Life". Here he plays Charlie Crews, a cop who was mistakenly convicted of a violent multiple murder and sent to prison for life. After 12 years behind bars, they found out that the DNA at the scene proved him innocent and was released. Even though the state financially compensated him for this wrongful conviction, Charlie goes back to work on the beat, but he's a very changed man, indeed. What's more, aside from his day job, he's also trying to find out who the real murderer was - because the people who were killed were close friends of his.

This very plausible back-story is great fodder for mystery, thrills and no small measure of comedy as well. Understanding that the best way to figure out the real murderer of his friends, is to hunt them down from the inside out, so going back to work makes perfect sense. Like most crime drama shows, this takes one case per episode which also parallels something in one of the main character's personal lives. What makes this special is (partially) the ongoing thread of Charlie's personal investigation when he's off the clock. In each episode we not only get to see a crime solved, but also get another tiny piece to the larger puzzle - making this a very cohesive series indeed.

The other thing that makes this unique is watching how Charlie readjusts to living outside prison after 12 years inside. There are little things like catching up on new technology, or his dislike of fences and his deep appreciation for fresh fruit. But it's more than just that, as we also see the ex-con mentality of hating the penal system and police, combined with the fact that he's one of the people those 12 years taught him to despise. Plus, having been a cop in prison also made him hated by most of his inmates, which allowed him lots of time for reading, contemplation and observation. So on top of everything else, he's become very "Zen" and has developed an interesting way of looking at things and reacting to people. This newly acquired ability seems odd to everyone until it shows it gets better results than the old tried and true methods. Still, it's a human skill he's gained, and not something supernatural or unbelievable, thankfully.

Regarding the acting here, one might worry about this London born actor being transplanted to California as an American. However, those of us who have been watching Damian Lewis' career already know that he can do a truly believable American accent from seeing him in "Band of Brothers". Once again, Lewis proves his artistry but this time with an even more subtle accent, akin to one you'll hear from the lower rungs of society around Los Angeles. (And yes, I do know what that sounds like, so trust me on this one.) What I particularly enjoyed is how Damien mixes the straight cop tough-guy with the almost innocence of this finally freed bird which points up Lewis' marvelous talent in switching between drama and comedy at the blink of his bright red eyelashes. It is truly a joy to watch Lewis on screen.

Lewis is also surrounded with a top-notch cast, only one of which is a big name. That would be Adam Arkin ("Chicago Hope"), although some of you might recognize Brent Sexton ("Deadwood") as well. But just because lots of these faces don't look familiar certainly doesn't mean that you're going to see poor acting jobs. To the contrary, I feel there's some excellent teamwork going on in this series, along with the complex dynamics of the characters. For instance, Crews' boss Lt. Karen Davis (played by Robin Weigert) doesn't feel comfortable with him on the force, and pressures his partner Dani Reese (played by Sarah Shahi) into ratting him out if he slips up. The only reason Davis paired Crews up with Dani is because Davis knows something about Dani she can hold over her. Then there's Crews' ex-partner Robert Stark (played by Sexton) who is still a beat cop and hasn't made detective like Charlie has, and seems to still believe that Charlie really is the murderer - but he won't admit that to his face. All the while, you also feel that Dani isn't terribly happy with this arrangement, and yet she can't help how he seems to grow on her. Finally, Arkin plays Ted Earley, a white collar ex-con who is living at Charlie's house, and managing his finances - ironically the same type of job that got him thrown in jail in the first place.

All this points to a very witty, intelligent and well thought out script which is written to keep us guessing while never falling into the realm of stupid or over the top. Add that to some interesting additions such as interspersing documentary like interviews of various characters and their views regarding Charlie Crews' being found innocent and release from jail, and you have a truly well wrapped package here. The story, the acting, the cast, the script, the production and the direction all work beautifully. All that and staring the gorgeous and talented Damien Lewis - what more can you ask? Now, I don't know if or when this will be aired in the UK, but if I were you, I'd keep my eye out for it, since I can promise you, even those people who don't care much for crime dramas, might very well enjoy this TV series. I'm giving it a full five stars and highly recommending it.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
A cop series with a difference.

Damian Lewis(who starred in Band of Brothers)plays Detective Charlie Crews. A cop wrongly convicted and after spending 12 years in jail, he is back. Not just back, but financially compensated and promoted to detective.

Like all the good recent dramas there is a thread running through each series that slowly gets revealed. Who set him up? While he is trying to work this out he continues his day job, and enjoys his wealthy bachelor lifestyle.

The series is original, involving, and well acted. If you liked Dexter you will enjoy this.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2009
I don't know why I bother!

I try to avoid getting invested in new series as I don't like the idea of being hooked to my couch for another hour per week. But, every now and then I'll catch something or be told about something that peaks my interest.

As there has been a lot of great American series' lately with British actors in the leading role (House & Lie to me featuring highly on that list) I decided to check out another - Life.

I won't go into the ins and outs of the story, there are plenty of reviews already on that. But, I will point out that, after the grit of the aforementioned House & Lie to me it took me a few episodes to feel this was up to par. But after about the third episode I was leaving each episode desperate to see the next (which is why I always get these things on DVD now or download them now). By the end of season 1 I was completely hooked and had to get a hold of season 2.

Getting to the end of that my wife and I were both keen to find out when season 3 was going to be coming out only to find to our horror that NBC have cancelled it!

Apparently they are focusing more on the 'reality TV' genre. Morons!

So unless another network decides to pick this fantastic series up, I'd suggest it may be worth avoiding if unresolved plots annoy you.

I can't understand these American networks. The last time I got really invested in a series it was Shark. Again, 2 series and cancelled. The thing is, they make these things where the first seasons are fairly well tied up (in a way) but once they get the 2nd they finish the story more confident they will have a third season to run the plot, so cancelling it then is extremely frustrating.

Usually with these things it is due to ratings, but it is normally (as with Shark) due to the network moving the viewing time all over the place and putting it up against high rating series like American idol etc.

In this case apparently NBC shifted the schedule time a lot and put it on at very low viewing times (late on a Wednesday night etc) yet the viewing figures still grew. So what gives?

Anyway, this is just a warning. The series is really great, but it might be worth waiting to see if another network is sensible enough to pick it up before investing time and money to an unresolved story.
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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2010
When people check out reviews on Amazon, often they will click on the one or two star reviews to see what the problem is that causes some to review so badly in relation to the bulk of reviews that are good. One star is extreme and will get people clicking to check out why.

Life, is a quirky and enjoyable show. I would have liked to give it a four star rating it deserves. I rated it as one star to draw attention to the absence of subtitles. I think it's pathetic, given the resources of the release company. You'll find other complaints in this regard and as to the clarity of sound, if you click also on the two star reviews.

I have hearing problems and usually use subtitles despite running it through quite a high end system. In the absence of subtitles I could either use hearing aids, which those who understand will know is horribly unsatisfactory especially in use with hi-fi, or I could turn up the volume which will certainly give me clarity that my system can provide but also will ramp up everything else and all the dynamics of a cop show, which is not always desirable or acceptable. I prefer to enjoy the benefit of my sound system while not playing loud most of the time and unfortunately, given the unimpressive quality of the soundtrack, a lot of the dialogue is only clear when turned well up. Other reviewers have pointed this out, that a lot of the dialogue is unclear to those with normal hearing, much of it being muffled or drowned out by other sounds. This in fact is quite common on many shows that are otherwise well produced. So, many people with normal hearing too, like to use subtitles by default.

Reviewers have bemoaned the lack of additional features and settings on this release. The lack of subtitles at all is the most glaring example. The situation isn't clear here in the product description at the time I write. Attention needs to be drawn to it, hence my one star review. Otherwise Life deserves at least four stars. Just be aware.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2010
Shortened first season of NBC's 'Life' is well worth a watch if you get the chance. It is funny and quirky with some dark undertones. Damian Lewis, playing the lead character of Charlie Crews, is brilliant, has a flawless American accent, and a hint of Monk about him. He is an extremely talented actor who creates a believable and likeable character and the onscreen relationship between him and the beautiful Sarah Shahi (who plays his partner) is interesting to follow.

But don't get too attached - there are only two seasons!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2009
I liked LIFE, it's a good idea and a bit different from your average cop series.
The only negative thing I can say is that sometimes they speak too fast and you can't understand everything they're saying especially since there are no subtitles available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2013
Firstly Damian Lewis' character is something refreshingly different. Able to flow good humour with serious work is a nice sight. Damien Lewis is a very well spoken English Actor who is able to roll of an American accent perfectly (much like Hugh Laurie does in House) so there is no worries about getting annoyed with accents as I have found with many wrongly cast actors! The series itself is Very good! a great idea for a show portrayed well by the cast! Don't need to go into much detail about the show as it is above in the description so ill just say this... If you like these kind of shows, you know Bones, C.S.I, the I guarantee you will enjoy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A cop series with a difference.

Damian Lewis(who starred in Band of Brothers)plays Detective Charlie Crews. A cop wrongly convicted and after spending 12 years in jail, he is back. Not just back, but financially compensated and promoted to detective.

Like all the good recent dramas there is a thread running through each series that slowly gets revealed. Who set him up? While he is trying to work this out he continues his day job, and enjoys his wealthy bachelor lifestyle.

The series is original, involving, and well acted. If you liked Dexter you will enjoy this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2010
Life Seasons 1 & 2 are well worth buying. Season 2 is Excellent.
It should never have been cancelled in the US!!! Great acting and good story lines all make for a great cop show.
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