One [2001/I]

A quirky drama with moments of startling originality, Life: Season One concerns Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis of Band of Brothers), a cop who spent 12 years in federal prison for murders he did not commit. Exonerated by DNA evidence, Charlie receives a multimillion-dollar settlement for his troubles and returns to his old job, though now as a detective. Cleared of the crime, Charlie still faces skepticism from his law enforcement brethren and the impatience of a new partner, Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), a former drug addict squeezed by her superior (Robin Weigert) to find reasons to boot Charlie from the force. None of this hostility, however, compares with the terrible time Charlie experienced behind bars, where a former cop is everyone's punching bag. Charlie's sanity, saved by studying Zen methods of non-attachment, remains with him after he is released into a digital world, Charlie has a lot of catching up to do, but it is his post-prison unorthodox manner and tendency to speak without thinking that prove jarring for colleagues and crime witnesses. Still, it is easy to root for the guy and appreciate (non-attachment aside) his fondness for the good life: a mansion, fast cars, beautiful women, and lots of fresh fruit. The pilot episode is a knockout, the kind of show featuring moments one has never seen before, such as a scene in which Charlie is forced to shoot a suspect and then talks him through an almost dream-like death. Subsequent episodes are a little uneven in quality, but the overall package is quite compelling, particularly as Charlie quietly solves the mystery of the murders for which he was blamed. Throughout, Charlie's religious transformation in prison collides with his darker impulses toward possible revenge, making Life a fascinating study in conflict. --Tom Keogh

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