Life (TV series)

Life (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Life

caption = Life title screen
genre = Drama/Police procedural
creator = Rand Ravich
starring = Damian Lewis
Sarah Shahi
Brent Sexton
Donal Logue
Adam Arkin
Brooke Langton
Robin Weigert (Season 1)
executive_producer = Rand Ravich
Far Shariat
David Semel
Daniel Sackheim
co_exec = Jonothan Shapiro
Marjorie David
producer = Loucas George
country = USA
language = English
runtime = approx. 42 minutes per episode (without advertisements)
channel = NBC
company = Universal Media Studios
picture_format= 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
first_aired = September 26, 2007
last_aired = present
num_seasons = 2
num_episodes = 15
list_episodes = List of Life episodes

"Life" is an American television drama created by Rand Ravich, who also serves as executive producer alongside Far Shariat, David Semel, and Daniel Sackheim for Universal Media Studios. Semel also directed the pilot.

It premiered on September 26, 2007, on NBC, and aired on Wednesday nights at 10/9c. The series stars Damian Lewis as Charlie Crews, a detective who was recently released from prison after serving twelve years for a crime he did not commit. NBC issued an order for a minimum of three additional episodes, on top of the original order for seven, the day "Let Her Go" aired, October 10, 2007.cite news | last=TFC Staff | title=NBC, CBS stand by their newcomers | url= | date=2007-10-10 | accessdate=2007-10-10] On November 26 NBC announced that "Life" has received a full season. However, due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike only 11 of the 22 episodes were completed.

After the strike ended on February 13, 2008, NBC announced that "Life" had been picked up for a second season and will return for the Fall 2008/09 season on Friday nights at 10/9c. [cite news |last=NBC |title=NBC renews drama series 'Chuck, 'Life' AND 'Heroes' for 2008-09 season |url= |date=2008-02-13 |accessdate=2008-02-13] NBC decided not to film any more episodes for the 2007-08 season. The network released the first season two episode, a week before its air date, online and via cable on demand.

The show is also broadcast on Tele5 in Spain, TV2 in Hungary, TV3+ in Denmark, RTL 5 in The Netherlands, Network Ten in Australia, Global, Showcase in Canada, italia 1 and "Joi" in Italy, TV3 in New Zealand, TV3 in Norway , M-Net in South Africa, AXN in Portugal, Chlie, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina and Star World in India. [cite news | last=Welsh | first=James | title= Ten picks up Fox, NBCU programming | url= | publisher=Digital Spy | date=2007-07-02 | accessdate=2007-07-02] [cite news | last=Bawden | first=Jim | title=TV lineup launch disrupted | url= | publisher=Toronto Star | date=2007-06-06 | accessdate=2007-06-15]


In an interview with [] Series creator Rand Ravich explained that "Life" came initially from Ravich's own long-standing interest in and desire to work on a police procedural show. Ravich first created the character of Charlie Crews as the basis for the show, for which he immediately considered actor Damian Lewis after finishing the script.cite web | url = | title = 'Life' Interview With Damian Lewis | author = Seat42f | date = 2007-09-27 | accessdate = 2008-08-23]

"Life" was conceived as a episodic television show in the vein of "24", where emotional closure is provided as new clues to the main mystery (the conspiracy that sent Charlie Crews to jail) are revealed every few episodes, with Ravich stating that he and the writers disliked the serial nature of some shows where it feels "like you’re kind of wandering in the desert".

Plot synopsis

First season

"Life" centers around Detective Charlie Crews, who at the start of the first season (set in 2007) is released from Pelican Bay State Prison after serving twelve years of a life sentence. In 1995 he was wrongfully convicted of the triple murder of his business partner and his family. Thanks to the efforts of his lawyer Constance Griffiths, DNA evidence exonerates him of the murders. Having lost his job, his wife, his friends, nearly all contact with the outside world and even his grip on reality for a time while in jail, he emerges enlightened by the philosophy of Zen, a fixation with fresh fruit and an obsession with solving the murder that nearly cost him his life and exposing the conspiracy that framed him for it. After successfully suing the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD, he is reinstated to the police department and receives an undisclosed but substantial monetary settlement. (Note: During a conversation about his finances with Ted Earley in the Season 2 premiere, Crews says "I have 50 million dollars.")

Crews is partnered with Detective Dani Reese, previously an undercover narcotics agent and now a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. Crews is not well-received by Lieutenant Karen Davis, who, during the season, tries to force Reese into offering information that will see Crews suspended and eventually fired. Even though she herself is uncomfortable with her new partner, Reese backs Crews up on numerous occasions, and the two slowly develop a bond.

The overarching story of the first season concerns the murder for which Crews was wrongfully imprisoned, which leads him to confront various figures from his past such as his former partner, his ex-wife, and the detective that solved the case. Near the end of the season, Crews manages to uncover information that implicates Reese's father's (also a retired cop) in the murder. In the finale, Crews is able to bring the true killer, Kyle Hollis, to justice, but he remains unaware of the reasons behind his being framed.

econd season

The second season premiered on Monday, September 29, 2008. On July 21 2008, producers announced the second season would effectively re-launch the series with a new "pilot" episode. [cite web |url= |title='Life' to relaunch; 'Chuck' plans shower fight|work= The Live Feed] Earlier in March 2008, series creator and executive producer Rand Ravich explained that the second season will delve deeper into the conspiracy in the framing of Charlie Crews. [cite news | author = Gary Levin | title = For five freshmen, strike means second chance ; Rethink and retool for relaunch in fall | publisher = "USA Today" | date=2008-03-13 | accessdate = 2008-08-18] Similarly, more of Dani Reese's past will be revealed.cite news | title = What makes Sharah Shahi happy? | author = Kaye Villagomez | publisher = "Manila Bulletin" | date = 2008-04-20 | accessdate = 2008-08-20]

Cast and characters

"Life" revolves around Detective Charlie (Charles) Crews, portrayed by British actor Damian Lewis, who is exonerated at the beginning of the series after originally being convicted for murder 12 years prior. Lewis chose to do the role after reading the script, in which he appreciated the character-driven nature of the story. [cite video | people = Lewis, Damian | title = [ Damian Lewis (Interview) on] | year2 = 2007-06-28 | publisher =] [cite video | people = Lewis, Damian | title = [ Life video: Between Takes on] | year2 = 2008-01-17 | publisher =] Creator Rand Ravich immediately considered Damian Lewis for the part.

As part of his substantial settlement he is reinstated as a police detective and partnered with Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), who is initially suspicious of and often annoyed by her new partner. She is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, which is what attracted Shahi to the character: "I like the fact that she has a dark side and she has some demons that she needs to overcome", [cite news | title = Life According To Sarah | author = Nur Ainne Johar | publisher = "The Malay Mail" | date = 2008-04-08 | accessdate = 2008-08-20] and she related in another interview that she's had some of the same experiences as the character.

Adam Arkin plays Ted Earley, whom Crews met in prison and now lives with Crews and acts as his financial adviser. Originally, Melissa Sagemiller was cast to play Crews' attorney Constance Griffiths, but she was replaced by Brooke Langton in July 2007. [cite news | last=Andreeva | first=Nellie | title=Langton lights up "Life" for NBC | date=2007-07-23 | accessdate=2007-07-23 | publisher="The Hollywood Reporter"] She and Crews care greatly for one another and both make references to a potential relationship if Griffiths had not been married.

Crews and Reese's Lieutenant Karen Davis is portrayed by Robin Weigert. Through the course of the first season, Lt. Davis attempts to have Crews expelled from the police department while assisting Reese in her recovery from addiction. Brent Sexton appears as Bobby Starks, Crews' old partner, who failed to support Crews during his trial 12 years ago. The relationship between him and Crews is tenuous at times but still friendly.

Making recurring appearances is Jennifer Siebel as Crews' ex-wife Jennifer Conover. She has remarried and has children. The relationship between her and Crews is strained. In several episodes, Christina Hendricks appears as the fiance of Crew's estranged father, with whom Ted Earley is infatuated. During the first season, Roger Aaron Brown also makes appearances as retired Detective Charles Ames, the detective that originally solved the murder case that sent Crews to jail. The role of Jack Reese, Dani Reese's father and antagonist to Crews in the latter episodes of the first season, is portrayed by Victor Rivers.

In the second season, Donal Logue will be added to the cast as Captain Brian Tidwell, [cite news | author = Amy Amatangelo | title =NBC primed to air Olympics live | publisher = "The Boston Herald" | date = 2008-07-22 | accessdate = 2008-08-21] Crews' and Reese's new boss, which will serve to lighten Damian Lewis' workload. [cite news | author = Alan Sepinwall | title =Freshman series return and rewind | publisher = "The Star-Ledger" | date = 2008-07-31 | accessdate = 2008-08-21]



The series was created by Rand Ravich, who also serves as executive producer alongside Far Shariat, David Semel, and Daniel Sackheim for Universal Media Studios. Semel also directed the pilot.Cite web | url= | title=Life: About | accessdate=2007-11-09 | publisher=NBC | year=2007] Rafael Alvarez ("The Wire") is a writer and producer for the show.Cite web | url= | title=Alvarez gets Life -- a new NBC fall series | accessdate=2007-10-14 | publisher=The Baltimore Sun | year=2007 | author=David Zurawik] Alvarez also wrote a pilot called "Panic in Detroit" for NBC. Based on this piece they hired him to work on "Life" as a writer and producer.

After the first season and the writers' strike was over, half of the writing staff of the show (originally made of 6 writers), who were all also producers, decided to quit and won't be returning for season 2, though according to creator/showrunner Rand Ravich, it wasn't either due to the strike or over creative disagreement: "I just think people went on to do what they want to."Cite web | url= | title=Did LIFE lose writers ? | publisher=The Path To Zen | year=2008]

One of the writers, Glen Mazzara, has moved on to a new series, "Crash", starring Dennis Hopper, where he'll serve as writer, executive producer and showrunner.Cite web | url= | title=Dennis Hopper to do 'Crash' series | publisher=Variety | year=2008]


"Life" premiered on September 26, 2007, on NBC, aired on Wednesday. NBC initially ordered thirteen episodes of the show, an original order of seven episodes, and later an order for at least three additional episodes (later expanded to six) on the day the episode "Let Her Go" aired, October 10, 2007. In November 2008 NBC placed an order for the balance of a full season, nine additional episodes. This would've brought the show's first season to a standard 22 episodes, with NBC stating it was hitting its creative stride. [cite news | last=Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times | title=NBC wants full seasons of 'Chuck' and 'Life' | url=,1,7554162.story?coll=la-entnews-tv | date=2007-11-28] However, due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, only 11 of the 22 episodes were completed.

The second season premiered on Monday, September 29, 2008, and a second episode aired Friday, October 3, 2008. Another episode aired Monday, October 6, 2008, after which it was moved to its regular time slot of Friday nights at 10/9c.

Themes and characteristics


First introduced in the pilot episode, episodes of "Life" generally feature short segments of mock-documentary footage as interludes. These scenes feature the supporting cast being interviewed about their relationship to Charlie Crews and their response to his wrongful imprisonment and release. Appearing are: Bobby Starks (Brent Sexton), Jennifer Connover (Jennifer Siebel), Ted Earley (Adam Arkin), retired Detective Charles Ames (Roger Aaron Brown), Costance Griffiths (Brooke Langton) and in the first episode Dr. Alan Fay, surgeon at the Pelican Bay prison and two unnamed police officers.

Segments are often repeated in following episodes.


A prominent theme in "Life" is the effect of imprisonment, both physically and mentally, on ex-convicts, particularly on the characters of Charlie Crews and Ted Earley. Several episodes deal prominently with the effect on Crews, such as his possession of a knife which he is not regulated to carry ("Let Her Go"); his desire to keep his house as spacious as possible ("Let Her Go"); his insight into guards ("Serious Control Issues") and the connections existing between (ex-)convicts ("Fill It Up").

Several references are made during the course of the show to the time Crews spent in prison, which is 12 years. For example, in "Dig a Hole: Part 1" characters recurrently ask the question "Who knows where they were ten years ago?", to which Crews continually responds that he does. Similarly, another recurrent theme is Crews' lack of knowledge concerning current technology because of his time incarcerated.

The episode "Serious Control Issues" focusses on a teenager that was abducted as a child and the similarities that exist between him and Crews.

The conspiracy wall

The 'conspiracy wall' is first introduced in the series' pilot episode and consists of photos and articles that the character of Charlie Crews has linked to his false imprisonment. New items were added to the wall during the first seven episodes as new clues were revealed. A digital reproduction of the conspiracy wall on the NBC website allowed visitors to view and speculate.

While the actual conspiracy wall was dismantled in the eighth episode, "Farthingale", the digital version is still available on [] as of September 2008.

Zen philosophy

The philosophy of Zen is featured heavily in "Life", most prominently through Charlie Crews. Episodes usually feature Crews using Zen techniques to stay focused or, by the unique insight it gives him, use it to solve a case. Similarly, he often spouts Zen proverbs.

Crews' struggle with his beliefs are most prominently featured in the first season finale "Fill It Up", when he learns the identity of the real killer in the case that saw him wrongfully imprisoned. In anger, Crews throws out a tape on Zen, titled "The Path to Zen", which is featured in a previous episode, out of his car as his desire for revenge conflict with the inherently pacifist nature of Zen. In the final scene of the episode, when the killer's brought to justice, Crews picks up the discarded tape from the road.


Critical response

As of August 2008, "Life" has a 64% favorable rating on Metacritic. Ken Tucker of "Entertainment Weekly" dubs the series "a very good new show that needs a more vivid title and more of NBC's promotional oomph" and praising the portrayal of Charlie Crews by the "beloved" Damian Lewis. [cite web | url =,,20058679,00.html | author = Ken Tucker | title= TV Review: Life |accessdate=2008-08-19 |work= |publisher= "Entertainment Weekly"|date= ] In contrast, Gina Bellafante of "The New York Times" noted that the character of Detective Crews (and contemporary Adrian Monk of the series "Monk") did not portray "law enforcers as believable soldiers of the working class", which she considered a negative. Tonally though, she described the show as "a musical version of a Thomas Harris novel" (Harris is a noted and acclaimed author of crime novels) and found the narrative to be "incredibly satisfying". [cite web | url =| author = Gina Bellafante | title= Sprung From Jail: A Cop With Cash and Quirks |accessdate=2008-08-19 |work= |publisher= "The New York Times"|date= 2007-09-26]

David Bianculli of the "Daily News" (New York) also likened the character of Crews to Adrian Monk, noting that "Lewis is commanding, and draws your attention without saying a word, almost as much as does Tony Shalhoub on "Monk." He also praised Sarah Shahi for her performance as Dani Reese, stating that "it's easy to imagine her as the star of her own spinoff, taking her no-nonsense character front and center". [cite web | url =| author = David Bianculli | title= Police show breathes new 'Life' into familiar formula |accessdate=2008-08-19 |work= |publisher= "Daily News" (New York)|date= 2007-09-26] Alan Sepinwall, reporter for "The Star-Ledger" instead cited a resemblance between Crews and main character Gregory House (played by British actor Hugh Laurie) of "House", but noting that "where House's quirks and bad behavior are ceaselessly amusing, Crews' idiosyncrasies -- also including a bafflement at modern technology like camera phones and instant messaging -- are already tired by the end of the first episode." [cite web | url =| author = Alan Sepinwall | title= Money makes the new season go 'round |accessdate=2008-08-19 |work= All TV |publisher= "The Star-Ledger"|date= 2007-09-26]

Robert Bianco similarly made the comparison between "Life" and "House" and "Monk", but noted that the character of Crews is covered "with so many quirks, foibles and eccentricities, you can hardly spot poor Lewis underneath", concluding with: "Strip away the abrasive flourishes, and what's left is a standard-issue TV mystery with cases that are too easy to solve and internal conflicts and conspiracies that make no sense." [cite web | url =| author = Robert Biance | title= Alas, it's not a good 'Life' |accessdate=2008-08-19 |work= |publisher= "USA Today"|date= 2007-09-26]

U.S. television ratings


External links

* [ Official site at]
* [ Full episodes of Life free from NBC]
* [ Global Television website]
*imdb title|id=0874936|title=Life
*tvtome show|id=68729|title=Life

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