TV reviews: ‘Life,’ ‘Dirty Sexy Money’

“Life” (Wednesdays, NBC): What a terrible, unimaginative title for such a fine show! It’s about a police detective who has just been released from prison after serving 12 years of a life sentence before new evidence proved he was innocent after all. A huge cash settlement has made him rich, but he’s returned to the police force anyway, partly to solve the crime he was framed for. What’s fun is that while in prison he adopted a Zen philosophy, and now he’s unflappable and a little kooky. Yeah, yeah, another show about a quirky main character who befuddles everyone around him. But Damian Lewis, the British actor who plays him (with a perfect American accent), is instantly mesmerizing. I got a kick out of that first episode — and since NBC has saddled it with a lousy title, a competitive time slot, and not much promotion, it needs viewers NOW. Watch it! TiVo verdict: ‘Life’ is sweet.

“Dirty Sexy Money” (Wednesdays, ABC): Now here’s a good title! Peter Krause (“Six Feet Under”) stars as a do-gooder lawyer who has inherited his recently deceased father’s clients: the Darlings, the wealthiest family in New York and a group of Grade-A screw-ups. It’s an hour-long comedy-drama, as has been so trendy on ABC the last couple years, and Krause is so watchable that it made me miss “Six Feet Under” all over again. There’s a good variety of Darling family members, including a spoiled debutante, a delusional playboy, a bitter priest, and a would-be senator who’s dating a transvestite, and Donald Sutherland gives it some solid footing as the down-to-earth patriarch of the clan. I was skeptical at first but was won over by the end of the episode. (Added fun: Krause’s father, the family’s previous lawyer, may have died under suspicious circumstances!) The premise will get old fast if every episode is nothing more than “look what hilarious scrapes the Darlings have gotten themselves into now!,” so hopefully they’ll do more with it. TiVo verdict: We’ll give it a few episodes to see if it holds my interest.