Life is a cop drama (sort of) that currently is airing in the United States on NBC. Short version of this review: it's the best drama NBC has fielded in years.

Layer 1:
Charlie Crews was a homicide detective in Los Angeles, but the heinous murder of a family connected to him resulted in him going to prison for life. Lucky for him, his lawyer was very, very good at her job, and he ended up being pardoned after serving twelve years, most of that in solitary confinement.

Layer 2:
Twelve years is a very long time for a person to spend alone, but Charlie was lucky - he had a book with him: a book on Zen meditation. It became the closest thing he had to a friend apart from:

Layer 3:
Ted. Charlie met Ted in prison. Ted was doing time for swindling millions of dollars from various people and organizations. White collar criminals aren't usually the toughest of people, and Charlie ended up saving his life in jail.

Layer 4:
Not only was Charlie pardoned, but he successfully sued the city of Los Angeles. His settlement came in two parts - he was given his old job back in the homicide division, and he was given an undisclosed cash settlement. Judging from the size of his house and the cars he drives, it was a very, very large settlement. He needed somebody to keep an eye on the money, so he let Ted move into his garage.

Layer 5:
Charlie was partnered with Dani Reese in homicide, a former undercover narcotics officer who went a little too far undercover and emerged blinking into the California sun an alcoholic and drug addict. Her job, ostensibly, was to find a reason, any reason, to get Crews fired.

It sounds preposterous, right? And I admit I approached the thing with trepidation, but get this: it's stylish. It's gorgeously shot. The dialogue is this weird combination of zen theory and barely-constrained violence, and the thing that sells it is that the murders that Crews ends up having to solve are so entirely twisted and weird that you can almost taste how much fun the writers are having with the thing - there's the guy whose bottom half got vaporized by a gas explosion who, it turned out, had two completely separate families and worked for the IRS. There's the homeless hippie woman found dead in a forest, still clutching her acoustic guitar with a dancing bear carved into its front. There's a truly inspired chase sequence involving the sound distortion from a flash-bang, a 350 pound Samoan and a pair of custom car builders, one of whom only repeats the other one's lines.

Tying the whole thing together is the Zen thread that weaves its way through the thing - Crews sublimates his frustrations with fruit. A woman compliments him on his car and he gives it to her because it's only an object. He keeps a crime wall hidden in his closet to track the interconnectedness of all things as they relate to the murder he was put away for. It's energetic and fanciful and fun and, for now at least, the entire series is available on Hulu.

It's called, "Life," get it? Life was what Crews was sentenced to, and Life was what he was given back. The Zen never ends.

Give it a try.