Welcome, everyone! Today is our first installment of our summer re-watch of “Life”. I am thrilled and delighted to have had my idea for this re-watch to have become a reality.
I, myself, am constantly re-watching Life. I am always in need of something to put on in the background as I create my burlesque costumes, and Life is one of my favorites to put on. On the surface, itself, I enjoy the stories, the acting, the writing, the characters. I love the Los Angeles backdrop. As a small child I lived for 3 years in a little town in the Crescenta Valley called Sunland. Many of the sights and sounds of the show really brings me back to that time in my life, from the way mountains are always in your peripheral, to how the heat shimmers off the pavement. And when I really begin to give it significant thought, to break down all the little details, I’ve found even more reasons to love the show.
A story about the wrongly accused and convicted, of how that tragedy plays out, and eventually the person finds justice, is a story that continues to be compelling entertainment. Most recently, the country was swept up in the drama of a case not too far away from where I live! Mantiwoc County in Wisconsin became the center of attention as the story of “Making a Murderer” became a hit on Netflix. I found myself marathon watching the episodes last year, screaming at the TV, sitting, at times, on the edge of my seat! This type of story, whether a reality or a work of fiction, is incredibly compelling. Everyone wants justice.
In Steven Avery’s real life case from “Making a Murderer”, he was helped by The Innocence Project. This organization was founded in 1992, and has helped overturn 240 convictions, 17 of which were on death row! I have to imagine that Charlie Crews was helped by a similar program. Was something like that where he met Constance? How did those two find one another?
DNA was discovered in 1985, and was first used in a criminal case a year after that. And as DNA gained more and more credibility, and the techniques were refined throughout the 1990’s, I imagine that they were able to use this new technology to re-examine the evidence in Charlie’s case, and clear his name. Whether a work of fiction or reality, these type of events make for a story as timeless as any other.
In our first episode, we see Charlie returning to police work. A tough case awaits him-the murder of a child. His attention to detail is staggering in these first few scenes. What type of special abilities did he develop while being locked up? His mind is different. He sees everything all at once. It is almost as if his mind is slowed down. Imagine having over a decade to do, basically, nothing. How different would your mind be? How vivid would life outside those walls have become? And in addition to that, how much would you have learned about the mind of a criminal, being locked away with them for so long?
Having been on the other end of things, being accused, he has a different perspective than his partner, Dani Reese. She asks him if he will always be sympathizing with the accused, always seeing someone being falsely accused? And Charlie wonders, why is that such a bad thing? He works the case in an opposite manner than most police officers, and we see this both in the first episode, and more pointedly in the second, where he refuses to believe that Jake could have murdered his new wife. As a man who had stared into the eyes of many killers, he didn’t see that when he looked at Jake. Call it a hunch, intuition or instinct, whatever it was it helped the case. He pushed to pursue other suspects, and in the end it led to the answer. Statistically, the most likely suspect is probably the guilty party. But thinking outside of the box might just keep someone from being wrongly convicted.
The weight of that power seems to rest uneasily on Charlie’s shoulders. Imagine that-sure, he chose to return to the force, but now he is in charge of finding the right person for the crime. He now holds the power to possibly wrongly convict someone, to do to someone else what was done to him. Charlie seems to be a man driven by empathy for his fellow man(a huge part of Buddhism and the “Zen” lifestyle he now lives by). Knowing he has the right person caught must be even more important to him than to anyone else.
And by his side, through it all, is that doubting partner. The one begrudgingly assigned to him, as a punishment of sorts, for past wrong doings. Dani is a troubled character, complex and flawed. Nearly a decade after this show aired, we are seeing more and more female representation in TV and other media. I feel like Dani was a bit ahead of her time, for simply even existing, and then also for who she actually was. Through the beauty of the internet, I was able to dig into some old message boards and read about initial reactions to the show, as it aired each week. And reactions to Dani were fairly horrible. She was called a “babe”, not taken seriously as she was being portrayed by a good looking woman. She was viewed a token female, a bit of “eye candy” for the show. But then as her character played out, she was seen as unlikable, which was a big change from the majority of female characters in TV. We women know, personally, the push on us to be nice, likable, “lady like”, proper. To have our collective shit together, to be grown up and mature. Dani is a hot, hot mess, and I love it. Much in the same way I enjoy the imperfections of Claire Danes as Carrie on “Homeland”, I love the flaws that Dani has. She has addictions, a troubled past. She’s a liar, mean, controlling, rude, condescending. Obviously troubled by issues with her father and family, in general. Why did she go into police work in the first place? Is she always, as many of us are, trying to satisfy a parent that we despise on the surface, but are always trying to gain the approval of? I think that her character would have been received better if the show had aired now, in 2016. She was ahead of her time, and I feel, a brave choice for the writers.
Charlie and Dani make an oddball, unlikely team. Two black sheep, paired up, trying to make a difference, each with their own motivations and ambitions. Each, in a way, trying to clear their own names and reputations. They both have a past they are not at peace with. Will they be able to find that peace, together?
Episode One: Grapes, Pear, Melon, Mango Fruit Cup.
Episode Two: Horned Melon(not eaten, but held), “lobby” apple.