The one-sentence set-up: Charlie Crews (Lewis) was a cop who was convicted of murdering his friend and wife and sent to prison for 12 years. When the case was re-examined years later, he was exonerated. Now, he's decided to come back to work as a detective.
If that were all there was to the show, that wouldn't be enough for me to watch it. In fact, it really wasn't, but the thanks should go to two things: one, NBC video rewind, and two, other series' pilots or season premieres not coming up to snuff. Yes, I'm looking at you, Heroes and Chuck.
There's more to Life than meets the eye. Crews won a multi-million dollar settlement for his 12 years wrongfully imprisoned, so he lives in an empty mansion and just bought an orange grove because he liked the red tractor. His financial advisor (Adam Arkin, great), whose life he saved in prison, lives in the room above his garage, and sometimes opens the door for Crews' hankering for pretty young women (I suppose 12 years in prison will produce a tweaked Zen outlook). His new senior partner has a history of drugs and alcohol and, despite not liking Crews' Zen-attitude, won't rat on him to their superior who for some reason wants him off the force. The superior is also on Crews' wall list of suspects, along with his former partner and lead detective, which he is using to piece together who really was responsible for the crime he didn't commit.
But the glue that holds it all together is Damian Lewis. The lead actor was one of the best things about the great HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. He hasn't lost any of his screen presence, and pulls off Crews' odd mannerisms with charm and aloofness that you believe he's been cut off, abused, and removed from life for over a decade and is just now getting used to being back amongst the living.
Yes, two episodes in, and like the preseason college football pools, my top ranked teams are already looking shaky, and there's a new, sharply written contender in town.