A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this police drama touches on some heavy, mature topics, including revenge, addiction, and casual sex. The main character has adopted a Zen-like attitude to cope with his years behind bars, but he's secretly trying to find whoever framed him. Meanwhile, he pursues pleasure, whether in the form of anonymous and attractive young ladies or tasty fresh fruit. His partner is a recovering drug addict who likes to pick up men in bars. There's also plenty of violence as the two gun-carrying detectives investigate crimes; expect images of bloody dead bodies, dismembered fingers, and more.
What's the story?
Prison changes a man. For Charlie Crews, a police officer who spent a dozen years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, the time could have made him bitter and angry. Instead, he studied Zen to learn to accept his life behind bars. And now that he's finally been exonerated and rejoined the force, his spiritual attitude gives him a unique perspective when it comes to solving crimes. That's the basic idea behind LIFE, a cop drama that tries to mix adult themes of loss, revenge, and acceptance with the standard police procedural format. Crews (Damian Lewis) is now a homicide detective, partnered with Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), whose history of drug addiction has left her with so little pull in the department that she's forced to work with him.
Is it any good?
Charlie and Dani make an odd pair. She's angry with the world -- as well as with her partner -- and eager to vent her feelings on any suspects who need to be questioned, a tactic that makes for interrogation scenes that could have appeared in dozens of other cop shows. But Charlie is focused on enjoying the moment, every moment, which helps him gain witnesses' trust and glean suspects' motives. His quirky mannerisms are certainly a gimmick and, while amusing, Charlie isn't a believable character. He irritates his colleagues on the force, and his repeated efforts to stay focused on the moment can get tiresome for viewers.
Life is actually trying to meld several major threads. First, there's Charlie the Zen-cop, who's learning to live on the outside. His sudden fame -- and the massive financial settlement he received -- have made him very popular with women, who stream in and out of his bedroom anonymously. Meanwhile, Charlie is secretly trying to find out who framed him more than a decade earlier, a task that will clearly take a whole lot of episodes to come to fruition. And, finally, there are the individual murder mysteries, which must be neatly tied up by the end of each hour. But one of the problems with Life is that the show spends so much time focusing on the other aspects of the show that there's little left over for the stand-alone cases, which often seem simple and underdeveloped.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cop shows. What things do TV series about police officers and other law-enforcement figures tend to have in common? How does Charlie compare to other TV cops? Families can also discuss justice and revenge. Charlie was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 12 years in prison before being exonerated. Now he's secretly trying to find out who framed him. What do you think he might do if he finds out who's behind the crime? What should he do? Can any amount of money (for example, the big settlement Charlie gets) make up for losing such a big chunk of your life?