Life: Season One

Life: Season One
The last thing that television needed was yet another episodic police procedural with template writing, clichéd characters and cheap, ostentatious direction. Thankfully, Life manages to divert these expectations with intricate character development, clever writing and season-long mysteries that make an effort to fully utilize the extended nature of a television serial. Like all police/legal/medical dramas, some episodes fall into an "issue”-based political format, involving gay marriage and drug dealing Persian college students getting killed in a Kwik-E-Mart where "Go Home” is written on the cooler in oil. However, these moments are kept to a minimum and often juxtaposed with jokes about defecating on people’s lawns and analyzing farts at the crime lab. Season one follows, for the most part, the mystery behind the wrongful imprisonment of Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), who has rejoined the police force after being exonerated of a triple-homicide and given a 50-million dollar settlement with the help of flirtatious lawyer Constance Griffiths (Brooke Langton). Having a newfound Zen appreciation of life and introspection, it’s inevitable that he’ll be teamed with the guarded and often defiant ex-druggie Detective Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), whose father Jack Reese (Victor Rivers) may or may not have been involved with framing Crews in the first place. Meanwhile, Lt. Karen Davis (Deadwood’s Calamity Jane, Robin Weigert) investigates Crews for suspicions of conducting his own unauthorized investigation into the potential conspiracy beyond his wrongful incarceration, which live-in pal Ted (Adam Arkin) helps hide. The DVD includes a brief blooper reel that features Ms. Shahi using some crude language frequently and deleted scenes that add very little to the show. Several mini-featurettes include a short discussion of the various fruits that Crews eats, three mini-slideshows that encompass the season and show clips from certain episodes, interviews with Lewis and Shahi about their characters, a multi-angle scene exploration that is quite boring and an exploration of the final episode with cast thoughts and analyses of the overall season trajectory. Commentaries are included with creator Rand Ravich and cast members as well. While there are many features, they are quite short and somewhat bland for such a strong first season. (Universal)