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Life: Damian Lewis Series Cancelled, No Season Three

LifeWhile today’s NBC infront presentation brought good news for fans of struggling shows like Heroes and Parks and Recreation. Those who enjoy Life weren’t so lucky.

Life revolves around detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a man who served a dozen years for murders that he didn’t commit. He lost all that was dear to him but survives thanks to his studies of Zen philosophy. He eventually rejoins the LAPD but is a very different man. Others in the cast include Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, Brent Sexton, Donal Logue, Brooke Langton, Robin Weigert, Jennifer Siebel, Victor Rivers, and Jessy Schram.

The NBC drama debuted in September 2007 to 10.15 million viewers and a 4.1/11 rating/share of the 18-49 demographic. Later episodes sank to a low of 5.72 million and a 2/6. If not for the writers strike, NBC would have cancelled Life after one year. The execs instead decided to give it another try and renewed the series for a second season.

Unfortunately, the next round of episodes didn’t perform any better than the first. NBC needs fewer shows next season because of their Jay Leno experiment but, even if they didn’t, Life wouldn’t be coming back with such poor ratings.

NBC’s co-chair, Ben Silverman, made it official today and confirmed that Life won’t be coming back next season. Thankfully, the last episode of the series gave viewers some closure and answers to ongoing questions. These days, that’s a luxury that few other shows are given.

 

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{ 350 comments… read them below or add one }

Afferbeck August 13, 2014 at 4:19 am

I recently finished watching Life and was trying to find more info about it. Seems as though the ratings drop is what lead to such a sub-par second half of Season 2. The writer’s strike also happened at this time, with half the writing staff not returning for the second season, which explains a lot. The first season was excellent, definitely one of the best ‘cop shows’ I’ve seen. Damian Lewis’ Crews is a great character, and has great chemistry with all the other characters. But the second season ended up being very disappointing.

I’m guessing there were scheduling/availability issues with the actors, caused by things like Shahi’s pregnancy, because Reese was ‘working with the FBI’ for about the last 6 episodes and only appeared in phone calls. It felt like in the latter seasons of the X Files when Mulder was on the run or whatever. In the finale when Reese and Crews are exchanged as hostages, they were never actually on screen together, and as they look at each other once it’s all over, again they’re never actually on screen together, it’s just cuts. This is a real shame because the Crews-Reese relationship was one of the strongest parts of the show.

Despite that, I really didn’t like the implication that they’re in love, it’s such a lazy thing to have the male-female cop partners get together. I’m guessing a third season would have explored that cliche with the hopefully interesting love triangle with captain Tidwell.

Jack Reese also went on the run for almost all of the second season, never to appear again, and was explained away by Nevikov’s taunting ‘your father cried before I killed him’. That sounds like an actor who got another job to me.

Danni Reese did not get much character growth in the second season. She was a recovering drug and alcohol abuser, and got drunk at one point after the stress of worrying about the feud between Crews and her father. The same episode she was sober again and told us she’s going to meetings and we never see any more about it. That’s lazy writing.

The first season shows Crews adapting to modern technology, enjoying his money, and partying with lots of women. There’s none of that at all in the second season, which makes some sense because it probably got old for him. He’s meant to have in excess of $50m but rarely uses that to any advantage in the second season. Plus there was little of the nice home-life stuff we got in the first season.

Which makes me think of the surviving member of the murdered Seyboldt family, Rachel. Charlie ‘sent her away’ for safety from Nevikov, and we never see her again. Which is a shame, because there was a great father-daughter relationship developing there.

Another actor we don’t see again is Christina Hendrick’s Olivia, who presumably was busy working on her other more successful roles. It would have been nice to see Ted meet up with her in the end, but his ‘gone to Spain’ note was a nice touch, even though he’s surely on parole and would not be able to leave USA or get into Spain. Crews’ father and Olivia’s ex-fiance are also not seen again.

We also never see Crews’ ex-wife again. They never really went anywhere with her character. Crews just hassled her husband a bit, and they a lot of flirting and short-lived affair. Yawn.

Bodner, the FBI agent under Nevikov’s thumb was a great character. I always like when enemies are not as simple as they seem and end up becoming allies. Same with Rayborn’s security woman.

One major area of the show I think could be improved is Crews’ imprisonment. The show is titled Life, which is very vague and non-descriptive. He went to jail for 12 year and it is often referenced, but we never really see it. I would have liked to have seen flashbacks to prison, where lessons he learned there he applies to his cases in outside life. It would have been interesting to have A and B plots, with prison flashbacks stories relating to present life. A show with the premise ‘a cop is imprisoned for 12 years for murders he did not commit’ should show some of that prison life. A huge missed opportunity in my opinion.

Anyway, I’ve typed a crapload about this show, and I really did enjoy it, even though the second season fell off. Who knows what might have become of this show if it weren’t for the writer’s strike, but then you could say that about so many shows.

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Curious June 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I just finished binging on “Life” on Netflix, and I’m left with a question. When Jack Reese is threatened by Rayburn, he is told, “There were six, now there are five, but there could just as easily be four.” I count Reese, Rayburn, Nevikov, and Ames, but who are the other two? I suspected maybe the show was cancelled early and so a full six characters could not be developed, but alternatively I suspected maybe Crews was being counted as one who was involved and could eventually benefit (though it’s odd for the threat). Perhaps Sp. Agent Bodner was being counted, though he was Nevikov’s man and seemed to be dissociated from the Seybold killing or the crime ring. Does anyone know if the other two are identified in the show, or if this was a plot hole that wasn’t filled because the show had to end early?

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