LIFE Season One DVD Review

     September 4, 2008

Reviewed by Nico

Somehow I missed Life when it was on. I don’t know why. I always liked the game. I liked the cereal even more. My TiVo told me it couldn’t handle another series. Having watched, I’m definitely high on Life and will now pistol whip my TiVo into submission.

Life centers on Detective Charlie Crews. After twelve years in prison, Charlie, wrongly convicted for multiple murders, returns to the job. His settlement upon being proven innocent is about fifty million dollars (give or take depending on who tells the story) and a detective’s badge – “life” as his lawyer puts it. Charlie has a proclivity towards attempting Zen and eating fresh fruit. Charlie realizes he was set up and one of the reasons he’s back on the force is to try and discern just who was involved. His partner, Detective Dani Reese, doesn’t necessarily welcome him with open arms. She got the bum assignment because fresh out of the Academy; she was put undercover in a drug operation and took her work home with her. Constance Griffiths, Charlie’s lawyer who helped him find freedom and monetary compensation, wants to be more than a professional acquaintance, but the good detective can’t get past her wedding ring. Charlie haunts his ex-wife and, more specifically, her new husband. Also on the home front, former white collar criminal Ted Earley handles Charlie’s financial affairs.

Life is a highly enjoyable series with interesting and well-rounded characters with ample dashes of conspiracy and whodunit. The best thing about Life is the balance between the episodic and season-long story arcs. There is the continuous build of Charlie’s search for the real criminals throughout Season One and, not to ruin it for anyone, the end justifies the screen time. I’ll be honest, sometimes when we’re treated to the documentary-style interview footage, some of the repeated statements start to grate, but that’s because the show was so engrossing, I watched it in one sitting.

There will be comparisons to other quirky leads such as Greg House and Monkford Monk (okay, I don’t know Monk’s first name, you got me), but I feel like Damian Lewis (Dreamcatcher, Band of Brothers) has etched out his own niche in the form of Detective Charlie Crews. It’s not the idiosyncrasies that make the character of Charlie work, it’s his constant battle with his feelings. He’s a detective, but he’s been treated like a criminal for over a decade. When he sets himself on the path of revenge, you don’t know where it’s all going to fall. It’s that razor’s edge that gives Lewis’s performance, hate to say it… life. The world of Life is populated with equally complex characters. It’s great to watch as Sarah Shahi’s (Teachers, The L Word) Detective Dani Reese starts to gradually warm up to the partner she only took because she had no choice. Again, it’s not just the dynamic between those two characters, as Reese has her own demons to battle. There’s just as much emotional give and take between Crews and his former partner Bobby Starks. Brent Sexton’s (Deadwood, Birds of Prey) portrayal of Starks uncomfortable feelings is wholly believable. Adam Arkin’s (8 Simple Rules…, Chicago Hope) Ted Earley provides great comic relief, but still has powerful character moments (like when he confronts the former partner who wrote a book on him). What red-blooded male wouldn’t have sexual tension with Brooke Langton (Friday Night Lights, Melrose Place)? Her performance as Constance Griffiths adds the “will they, won’t they” factor to the show even as her marriage acts as another challenge to Charlie’s morals.

I have one complaint and one complaint only. While the rest of the season is highly enjoyable and the sound is across-the-board professional and well-done, the music choices are abysmal and, on more than one occasion, took me out of the scene. Having not seen the original on-air run, I can’t confirm, but I’ve heard mumblings that songs were replaced for the DVD release. In the words of Hall and Oates, I don’t go for that.


The eleven episodes come packaged on 3 DVDs. The show is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Episodes can be watched with subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Each DVD has a Play All function as well as an episode index.

Disc One
On startup, trailers for Heroes (Season 2), House (Season 4), The Office (Season 4), The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, and a Life Season 2 tease.

Deleted Scenes — “Let Her Go” — a minute and fourteen seconds. Little bits here and there, with a nice beat to the coyote storyline.

Audio Commentary — “Merit Badge” –Creator Rand Ravich and Executive Producers Far Shariat and Dan Sackheim and actors Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi

Disc Two
Deleted Scenes — The title is slightly misleading in that there is only one deleted scene, but it’s a nice bit between Arkin and Olivia as they spend the night at the solar farm.

Blooper Reel — A minute of bloopers. There is one or two genuine chuckles nestled at the end, especially when Sarah Shahi eats it walking through a door.

Life Begins — A little over eight minutes of interviews with Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi about the series and their characters.

Multi-Angle Deleted Scene — A couple of different looks at a scene from the Pilot episode, including a behind the scenes take. You get a chance to see what they originally thought would work and the final aired (and ultimately better) version.

Fruits of Life — An under-a-minute bit with Damian Lewis and clips from Season one about Charlie’s fruit obsession.

Still Life — Three different slideshows. One that encompasses the season and two which focus on specific episodes “Fallen Woman” and “Close to Minty”.

Life’s Questions Answered — Adam Arkin, Damian Lewis, Brent Sexton and Sarah Shahi talk about the season’s end. Do not watch this feature before watching the series or it will spoil some really powerful moments from the last two episodes.

Disc Three
Audio Commentary — “Farthingale” — Creator Rand Ravich and Executive Producers Far Shariat and Dan Sackheim.

Audio Commentary — “Serious Control Issues” — Creator Rand Ravich, Executive Producer Far Shariat and actor Adam Arkin.

Audio Commentary — “Dig a Hole” — Creator Rand Ravich and Executive Producers Far Shariat and Dan Sackheim and actors Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi

Audio Commentary — “Fill It Up” — Executive Producer Dan Sackheim and actors Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi


If you haven’t been watching Life… why not? I’ll admit it. I was late to the gate on this show, but I’ll be diving head first into Season Two now that I’ve been primed with Season One. With the DVD release, you have the same opportunity to get ready for the premiere on September 29, 2008. If you’re already a fan, you know what this show has to offer and will appreciate the multiple audio commentaries.

Final Grade – A

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