I’ve watched three episodes of MEMPHIS BEAT now and wanted to make a few observations. TNT has been developing new series for a few years now and seem to hit the mark more often, much more often, than the broadcast networks. Some I haven’t watched, so don’t know a lot on them(The Closer, Men of A Certain Age).
MEMPHIS BEAT is a somewhat off beat cop show set in the Tennessee city and one of the main features I like is the blues music played in the background at various spots. The cast are all, quirky REAL looking people. As opposed to so many of the broadcast shows. One I bailed out on after the few minutes, The Gates, was filled with actors that had all obviously had extensive plastic surgery. Plastic is the word here. They all looked so perfect, so unreal. Hollywood might be the only place on Earth where one could walk down the street and not see a facial wrinkle for blocks.
Jason Lee is Dwight Hendricks, the anchor of the show, a cop with a musical bent(he does Elvis songs both at home and in clubs). he’s that cop who’s never satisfied with what’s presented and keeps digging until the truth comes out. And so far it’s usually not what starts out. He has an ex-wife that pops in occasionally( a whirlwind romance and a marriage that lasted eight weeks). The pair remain friends, there’s still a spark there, and his efforts to help her usually fall apart.
Alfre Woodard is their boss, Lt. Tanya Rice, a no nonsense cop in the pilot, but they loosen her up a bit in the next two episodes. She’s learned that Dwight has a nose for thee truth and gives him his head within reason.
They are the big three with the most screen time. None of them dress in suits. Dwight and Whitehead wear jeans with a shirt and sport jacket. Rice usually has a nice outfit, nothing official looking of course.
Minor characters are D J Qualls as Davey Sutton a uniformed officer who seems to be there for comic relief as much as anything. He’s forever stepping into an investigation, literally in the pilot, and confusing or making things harder than necessary. Abraham Benrubi is Sgt. J C Lightfoot, a uniformed officer with a long gray ponytail running down his back. His wife and he seem to have battle on a regular basis(in the third episode, his stomach was bleeding and he revealed his wife had stabbed him). Leonard Earl Howze is Reginald Greenback, another detective we haven’t learned a lot about yet.
In the pilot an old woman, obviously suffering from Alzheimer’s, is found wandering, her body covered with marks of abuse. Dwight recognizes her as the top radio DJ in the city thirty years before. At her home, he finds where she’d been handcuffed to the bed. Her son lives out of town and had hired a woman, a drug addict to look after her. In the second, a small boy wants Dwight to find his father, an FBI agent who’d gone missing. In the third. a young beauty queen, daughter of a very rich family, disappears the night before a pageant.
In all of these, as Dwight starts investigating, things very different emerge. Ugly truths are revealed.
Each episode so far closes with Dwight playing his guitar and singing, either a club scene or at home, musing on what went on.
I like this show fine, it’s rapidly becoming a favorite, but there are a couple more debuting in a few days that show promise as well. THE GLADES premieres on A & E Sunday night and RIZZOLI AND ISLES Monday night on TNT.