Sidetracked

I love television shows. I especially like good television shows, of which there are few and far between. One show you may not have ever heard of or seen is “Life,” starring Damien Lewis. He’s one of the many recent British-actors-who-star-in-shows-with-American-characters and he pulls of a southern-californian accent very well. He’s also a great actor, and the show is extremely well-scripted.

The show is set in Los Angeles, and follows a detective who was falsely imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit. The show begins after he is released, and follows him and his very sexy partner (played by Sarah Shahi, of “The L Word” fame), as they solve cases.

One of the great things about the show is its commitment to good writing, exemplified by a structure we’ve seen a lot throughout episodic TV shows: the throughline. For example, “Life,” like “House,” focuses on individual cases, but also follows the relationships of its major characters. Lewis’ character becomes a practitioner of Zen, and is constantly expounding on Zen principles. Sounds tacky, but in all actuality, it is a great narrative device that gives the character excellent quirks which Lewis manages to make very interesting. It is toned down somewhat in later episodes, or possibly becomes less obvious as we watch the show and adapt to the character, but Rand Ravich (the creator and head writer), does a spectacular job of maintaining character development throughout each episode.

Besides character interaction, there’s another overarching plot theme: the hunt for those people who caused Lewis’ character’s imprisonment. I won’t say much else, except that the cast is great, and Lewis is exceptional. I first saw him in “Band of Brothers,” and even there he was amazing. He’s better here. Watch the show.