Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend TV: Life 1.1

Hulu has yet again pushed back their streaming of the third season of SONS OF ANARCHY, so I've decided to highlight an overlooked and underappreciated noir series from 2007-2009, called LIFE. The entire 2-season run is on Hulu, and doesn't expire until September of next year, so we'll be able to go through one episode a week and finish with plenty of time.

LIFE is the story of Charlie Crews, a policeman who was convicted of murder in 1995, and freed in 2007 when the conviction was overturned based on shoddy policework. Charlie's settlement included a large undisclosed sum and renistatement in the LAPD as a detective. Charlie is partnered with Dani Reese, a detective 21 months sober, but still on the department's shit list. Crews's ultimate plan is use the department's resources to find out who framed him and sent to jail, but Dani's getting pressure to witness Crews in a compromising situation and get him kicked off the force. In the meantime, they are pushed together to solve crimes.

The noir thrust of the series is analogous to the film noir protagonist type of a hero forced to act like a criminal. Charlie is described by his ex-partner as a good cop, but one just "looking to get his 20 and his pension." Understandably, prison changes him. Inside, the prisoners treat him like a cop and the guards treat him like a con. Both beat him, leading to multiple trips to the infirmary and over 200 stitches. Not only does he need to learn to survive, but to cope. This leads him to the study of zen philosophy, which he continues to use on the outside.

Once released, Crews is a new kind of cop, walking the line between the perceived light of police procedure and the perceived dark of criminal activity. His first day back on the job, he is already illegally informing suspects of pending searches, which gives them time to remove drugs from their house. But he did this in the interest of family, by not having a father ripped from a household after their son has just been murdered. Crews's moral compass now transcends the difference between police and criminals.

Crews's first case involves a man who is a mirror of himself, a man who went to jail and found the darkness in himself, and a man who found himself abandoned by his wife because of it.

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