, beginning its second season Monday, Sept. 29, on NBC, survived the writers strike would be a major understatement. Detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) is one very weird cop with his Zen-like outlook, million-dollar mansion and need to figure out who framed him for murder a decade ago. It’s as if NBC combined Law & Order with Victory Garden just to see what would happen. The result? Coolness we haven’t seen since the first season of Miami Vice. So clear your mind, take a few deep breaths and call your friends; we’re about to celebrate Life.

Setting the scene:
Unless you have a mansion with almost no furniture in it — like Charlie — go with a slightly more traditional police station theme with plain metal desks facing each other and covered in manila envelopes and crime scene photos; paper firing range targets on the wall; a chalk outline of a body using masking tape on the floor (or you can hire a college kid to lie still for two hours covered with a sheet); and red and blue police lights on the dashboards of the cars in your driveway. Also, cordon off a portion of your front yard with yellow caution tape. Per Charlie’s secret conspiracy wall, have photos of all your guests made into black and white 8x10s and hang them up with black lines connecting everyone. Have some miniature Zen gardens placed throughout the room to bring about peace and tranquility. Party favors can include The Game of Life and books on Zen such as Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Suits and ties are a must for detectives, and don’t forget handcuffs, but guests who come more casual are welcome to be considered suspects. Sunglasses are standard issue.

On the menu:
Fruit. Since being locked up in prison, Charlie has a thing for fresh fruit. Have baskets of apples, pears, oranges and peaches.

On the hi-fi:
Live Is Life by Opus, Life by Des’ree, This Is Not My Life by Fastball, Downtown Life by Hall & Oates, Lust for Life by Iggy Pop.

The showstopper:
Charlie spent 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Why not get a taste of that by spending a few nights in jail as well? The Old Jail in Mount Gambier in South Australia is, as you might expect, aimed at the budget traveler. In fact, you’ll be sleeping in cells and sharing showers.

Posted by:Michael Korb