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October 2, 2008

Review: Life 2x1

Posted on October 2, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Life

In the US: Mondays and Fridays, 10/9c, NBC. Moving to just Fridays from the 3rd.
In the UK: Still not yet acquired, unless Hallmark hasn't told me something

There are so many cop shows out there that each needs its own gimmick to differentiate itself from the other. The traditional way of doing this is with the lead cop - Columbo, the down-at-heel, working class detective; Ironside, the detective in a wheelchair; Raines, the detective who imagines he can see dead people; and so on.

Life is no different, although it's always had a confusing focus. On the one hand, Damian Lewis's Charlie Crews could be 'the Buddhist detective', following some intensive reading of Zen books on enlightenment.

"Have you ever shot anyone?" a kid asks him on the subway when he sees Crews' gun.

"Why would I do that? Violence against another is violence against everyone. Violence against everyone is violence against the self," replies Crews.

But Crews was framed for a murder he didn't commit and spent over a decade in jail. He's picked up some odd skills and tendencies inside; he's missed out on the Internet and other modern inventions; he's also a multi-millionaire and a cop again after the lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment was settled. And now he's out, he wants to find out who framed him then punish them.

"Yes, I have. And they all had it coming," Crews further explains to the kid.

The 'Buddhist, ex-con, multi-millionaire, out-of-time detective"? That's not easy to get a handle on.

With that schizoid attitude, Life has always had a tricky time working out what to do with its life. Should it focus on the cases that Crews solves with his Buddhist insights? Should it focus on Crews or build up the supporting cast of not quite so interesting regular-type people? Should it stick with the general story arc of who framed Crews?

Lots of questions - has it worked out its happy place in the second season, and what is the sound of one hand pressing the buttons on a Nielsen box?

Continue reading "Review: Life 2x1"

September 30, 2008

Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x1

Posted on September 30, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Sarah Jane Adventure 2x1

In the UK: Mondays, 4.35pm, BBC1
In the US: The SciFi Channel again, probably

Last series of The Sarah Jane Adventures posed something of a dilemma. Obviously, being a spin-off of Doctor Who featuring a former Doctor Who companion, comparisons with the mother ship were inevitable. Thing was, the comparison invariably became "Don't you think The Sarah Jane Adventures is more entertaining, more adult and more consistently higher quality than Doctor Who?" – even though ostensibly it was aimed at six year olds.

Now it's back, packed with action, continuity references and Sarah Jane fun. So again we have to ask, which one's better? We also have to ask, can we bear the shame of watching CBBC at our ages?

Continue reading "Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x1"

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September 29, 2008

Review: The Unit 4x1

Posted on September 29, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Unit

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Bravo and Virgin One at some point, probably the New Year

When you get to the fourth year of a long-running show, you have a choice. Do you continue with the same old formula (cf House), or be a bit brave and mix things up (cf Lost)? The Unit might be forgiven for going for the easy option, given it was on the cusp of being cancelled at the end of last year.

But this is a manly show of the first order, in which brave special forces soldiers (who definitely aren't Delta, honest guv'nor) risk their lives tackling threats foreign and domestic while their wives go through equal hells at home. Easy option?

The Unit spits in the face of the easy option

Continue reading "Review: The Unit 4x1"

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