Sunday, October 25, 2009


We've been in the new television season for over a month now and I've been somewhat underwhelmed. Oh, there's some good new stuff and some good returning shows, but today I'm going to take issue with the cancellation of a show from last season.

Life was an hour-long cop drama that aired on NBC for two seasons, the first being the strike-shortened 2007-2008, then a full 22-episode second year in 2008-2009. Life was about LA cop Charlie Crews, who spent 12 years in a maximum security prison after being convicted of killing his best friend and the friend's wife and daughter. Being a bad cop, Crews was constantly being beaten in stir by convicts and guards alike.

After getting exonerated, he was given an eight figure settlement and a detective's badge. Not really wanted by the police department, he was assigned a partner, Dani Reese, who was the lowest detective on the depth chart, a non-dry alcoholic who was on probation for partaking of the evidence during a narcotics deep cover assignment.

Crews had all kinds of idiosyncrasies. Suddenly free from incarceration, he enjoyed the outdoors, fast cars, fresh fruit and hookers. While in the big house he also adopted the principles of Zen, which he would trot out at what his partner would consider the least convenient times. He sounds odd but he was very endearing.

And hardly a successful practitioner of Zen. One of the reasons he negotiated for the gold shield was to be able to use department resources to investigate - covertly - the murders for which he was framed. And investigate he does. Over the course of the two seasons, he finds first the hit man, then the people behind the hit, all the while earning the respect of cops who thought he was dirty for 12 years.

Why am I waxing nostalgic today? Because I just saw a promo on the USA network. Their tag line is “Characters Welcome.” Charlie Crews was definitely a character. Maybe not Monk, but the equal (or better) of Mary Shannon on In Plain Sight, or the guy from Burn Notice, or the doctor of the rich and famous on Royal Pains and certainly better than the guys on Psych or the immediately forgettable White Collar.

Why pick on USA? Follow this:

Life aired on NBC.
Life was produced by Universal Studios.
USA Network is owned by NBC-Universal.
Life was a good show with great characters.
USA Network says “Characters Welcome.

Since they had the producers and cast under contract, couldn't they just have moved the show - and 4.5-5 million regular viewers - over to USA for the third season? It would certainly beat some of the lame shows or reruns USA has on now. Alas.

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