Friday, October 26, 2007

The information reveal.

Officially Life is my favourite new show of the Tv season and the only one I’m going to continue to watch.

I have finally given up on Bionic Woman. It was only pigheaded stubbornness that kept me watching this long anyway.

Why Life? It has it’s weaknesses, the case of the week isn’t terrifically imaginative and the lead character’s zen can be wearing. But as it goes on, the writers are doing some really, really smart things.
Well, the smartest thing they did was cast Damien Lewis in the lead role. Even with all the zen, he’s been able to project a sense of ruthlessness behind everything and this week, it really came forward and in a good way. We got a real sense just exactly how 12 years in prison had changed this guy and as much as he’s tried to hide it, he’s a different man. And not for the better and Lewis can convey that the character knows it.

The writers are taking their time revealing everyone’s demons. They’ve been doing it in quick scenes. One of the better ones was when the lead character’s partner gets covered in heroin during a bust. Her reaction tells us exactly what she is, a recovering heroin addict. And four episodes later, we find out she fell in love while undercover and he was a heroin addict also. And it was almost a throwaway line, not a huge reveal and not an information dump. Just enough to really whet my appetite to know what happened.

The Lewis character has this mission, that in some cases, the writers only hint at, and the times when his ruthlessness comes to the forefront are usually underplayed, and perfect. Each episode we learn something new about his character and the writers are trusting the audience to be intrigued enough to continue watching and patient enough not to want to know everything up front.

I really like that trust. I don’t like to be told everything about a character up front, be it movies, tv or books. It requires more trust between the audience and the writer, but as long as the payoff is worth it, then I’m in all the way

And in this show, I believe the payoff is worth it.

And I’m taking notes, because the writers are making all sorts of smart choices about what and when to reveal in terms of the overall mystery of who framed the hero and about the main characters.


Molly O'Keefe said...

I just PVR'd Life this week and it was Amazing!!! The last scene when Lewis looks in the mirror and takes a long second to say I am a cop - chilling. Could have been so trite and stupid from another actor. Yep. I'm in too -- I like the partner and her demons -- the love triangle with the lawyer. All good stuff.

Margaret Moore said...

I absolutely agree! The fight scene showed how ruthless he could be, and how he'd (probably really) survived in prison -- it wasn't by being zen! I also like that he's picking up women, like he's making up for lost time. I think that's believable. And that he doesn't want a relationship with his lawyer. And how they're dealing with the conspiracy that got him imprisoned in the first place.

Bonus: this week, one of the Law and Order reruns featured the woman who plays the police captain.

Anonymous said...

I think it's that suggestion of something so dark and ruthless underneath his exterior that I love the most.
Loved that fight scene, Margaret, and the way he looked at himself in the mirror.
It's a clever, clever show.

Maureen McGowan said...

I'm finding Life interesting too. Great writing, great casting. Love seeing all these actors from Deadwood showing up... None of the characters are flat.

Loved the Roman character this week. That actor was both on Deadwood and John from Cincinnati. Hope we see more of him and his evilness.

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