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Day #2 - Dani Reese (LIFE)

Fabulous Fictional Females Fandom Fiesta February

Day 2 – Detective Dani Reese.

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Another show I mourn greatly for what could have been …and the perfection of what was. First season Life is absolutely breathtaking.

As always with truly quality shows, a large part of that was the characters, especially the main partnerships of Crews and Reese.

Crews of course was the centerpiece of the show, but his character and role wouldn't have been anything near what it was without Reese.

******

Dani Reese is a wonderful slap in the face to all the cliched color-by-numbers characters out there.

Although, going by the bare facts of her role, she should seem to be the most cliche of all.

Extremely physically attractive no-nonsense female police detective, who is also the daughter of a prominent and respected retired police officer (who was more committed to the job than his family, naturally). That scenario is right out of "Police Procedural Character Creation 101" Furthermore, she has daddy issues, commitment issues, authority issues, control issues, relationship issues, anger issues, and a couple more issues I'm probably forgetting. Oh yeah, and she's in the program due to a drug addiction she picked up while on an undercover operation. However, her form of treatment seems to be self-medicating with alcohol and frequent one-night stands.

At this point, those of you who've never seen the show (and if you haven't, I implore you to correct that error ASAP) are probably saying "WHY on EARTH do you like this character?" Well, the amazing thing is that none of this plays out heavy handed or over-the-top. Unlike characters in lesser procedurals, Reese isn't a martyr; she doesn't overreact and take things personally and make cases all about her.

She is incredibly, beautifully, damaged and REAL.

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There are tons of positive things about Dani Reese as well.

For all her seemingly humorousless, by-the-book manner, she has no problem thinking outside the box. She is very clever, has strong observation skills and recall. She's a good enough cop that she was sent into a major longterm undercover operation while still in her 20s. Dead shot.

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Fearless without being reckless. Unbelievably - and fiercely! - determined. Despite her history of addiction, she is unquestionably a good cop, nothing dirty about her. Ambitious, in the good way. Despite her clear issues with authority/control, she knows how to play the game of internal politics and is fairly good at it.

But what I like perhaps best of all is the most undeniable and obvious parts of her character - She's a tiny, extremely beautiful, female, - have possibly the LEAST effect on her role in the series.

Yes, she's hot. She knows it - and uses it, from time to time. But while in most shows that would be a focus (and, true, the network played it up in S2) here it is just a side effect of who she is.

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In my opinion the show would change LESS if you altered the character's appearance - made Reese a guy or a towering Amazonian type, or some horsefaced Plain Jane. Than if you altered something like her control/addiction issues, her rationality, her fearlessness, her loyalty, etc.

Actually, her physical size NEVER emerges as an issue, obvious as it appears to be. In fact, quite the opposite.

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I mean, look at the two of them. If you were a wrong-doer, who would you be more wary of? The unpredictable hulking ex-con or his pretty, petite partner? With very few exceptions, suspects and criminals alike sense that the bigger danger is in the smaller package. (And in those rare cases, Crews helpfully tries to correct the error of their ways before they reap the consequences.)

Reese never makes some sort of "woman in a man's world" statement either. Both partners just take it for granted that she can and will pull her own weight ... and then some. (I told you I love this show)

Frankly, when it comes to physical tasks, she almost always takes the lead. She's the one in the driver's seat, the one who leads in sweeping a location, the one who cuffs the suspect, the one who plays "bad cop" in the interrogation room.

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One of the nicest ways I can demonstrate the supreme awesomeness and take-no-crap pwnage of Dani Reese is to say this: She would see straight through Veronica Mars and take her down.

Actually, now that I think about it? A grown-up Veronica Mars after a number of years in law enforcement, would be very like Dani Reese. A little more given to snark and running at the mouth, but then again, we never had the experience of listening in on Dani Reese's mental commentaries on life. Her internal voiceover would no doubt have had quite the sarcastic and cynical edge.

*****

When the idea for doing a month of Fab Females occurred to me, I began to collect and bookmark links and clips and things to use. Unfortunately, when I went to start putting posts together this weekend, I found that bookmark folder had disappeared. So, we'll have to see what I can re-create on a day-to-day basis.

In this case, there aren't many clips available online, and the ones I found are fairly Crews-centric. But the show is really about there partnership, so Dani is there as well, being her awesome, unflappable self.



Detective Dani Reese, ladies and gentlemen.

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Do you know her? Do you love her? If yes, tell me why; if no - get thyself to Netflix post haste!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
lembeau
Feb. 4th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
This made me miss Life and Dani and Charlie in the worst way. Dammit.

She is incredibly, beautifully, damaged and REAL.

It's why I love her so much.
r_a_l_i_g_h
Feb. 5th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
This made me miss Life and Dani and Charlie in the worst way. Dammit.
Yeah, this was a somewhat painful post to make. Realizing that this time last year we still had Life on the air. *sniff*
squaringkarma
Feb. 6th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
♥ "Doc."

Thank goodness I was able to keep season 1 before one of my externals died earlier today (I have season 1 on DVD in the States, but I like the first original airings, too, because of the original music). I may rewatch at some point.
r_a_l_i_g_h
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Oh golly, DOC!!!

I'd forgotten about that.

("Dani Reee. DR. DR is Doctor. Doc. Doc Reese! Doc is a great name. I wish I had that name. Well, it'd be confusing if we both had the same nickname."

*mourns show all over again*
beeker121
Feb. 25th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
I adored Life. I am still sad they cancelled it, but at least they were able to have some kind of ending.

I loved how no nonsense Reese was, she grounded Charlie.
spadada
May. 10th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC)
I concur on all fronts.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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