I just started watching Life, the NBC series. I’ve enjoyed the first four episodes. In fact, episode three has one of the most brilliant sequences I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the setup. Charlie Crews is a detective who was sent to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. Being a cop in prison made him a target for many many beatings. Eleven years later they found none of the DNA at the murder site was his. So they released him, and, as settlement for damages, gave him a bunch of money, and allowed him to be a cop again. He’s been partnered up with Dani Reese. Nobody really wanted him, but she’s had problems of her own and got stuck with him. Crews had a car in the first episode, geeked out about GPS and handsoff telephone (stuff his missed in prison), but the ex-con lawyer Crews has put up in his mansion ran it over with a tractor. He’s been riding the bus. In this sequence, Crews and Reese are looking for a guy named Manny Umaga who carjacked a man and his wife then shot the wife. In this sequence they go find where he is and then go get him.
Watch it and then read my comments below. It runs from minute 15:49 to 21:15.
1. Surprise. You walk into a dangerous car shop. What are you expecting? You know you’re going to meet hard characters. They’re not going to want to talk to you. There’s some danger and so a bit of suspense. So we meet some hard characters. I was still surprised by the particulars of Buscando Maldito–his neck tattoos and hat. Wonderful and new (at least to me). But before we can have a confrontation–surprise–Crews sees the car of his dreams. Then we get that wonderful exchange between him and Maldito and El Repitito. Total humor. Totally unexpected. Then Maldito suggests a posse? Not only is he willing to talk, but he suggests he goes with them? When going to get Umaga, more surprises. Flash bangs? Big honking Samoan running? Busts down the door? Takes Crews by the neck? Crews pulls his own knife? Surprise after surprise after surprise.
2. Characters. Loads of interest factors (see my post on character). Maldito and Repitito have fabulous eccentricities. Crews displays his own interesting reaction to the car. Surprising, but logical (BTW, in a later scene you see him driving the car!) Then we see his prison background coming up with the knife. Love his backstory. And did you notice how strong Reese is, taking none of Maldito’s crap?
3. Dialogue. Did you notice how the first few times Reese says anything to Maldito he doesn’t respond to her question? Total avoidance of on-the-nose dialogue, talking cross-purpose.
4. Soundtrack. The way they bridged the two scenes with that music was fabulous. And the music itself. Wow. BTW, that’s “No Nadie” by Edgard Jaude, Rafael Torres, & Andres Ayrado.
5. Conflict. Between the Maldito and Crews about the car, between Maldito and Reese, between Umaga and Crews. Then Crews and Reese (with the knife).
I think I watched this a dozen times. Loved it.