After seeing the series premiere of Memphis Beat last week, I though the series had promise, but I was missing that identifying characteristic that said it was a George Clooney-produced series. Having now seen the second episode, “Baby Let’s Play House,” I’m still not seeing George on it, but I am seeing something I like more and more.
The character behind Jason Lee’s Detective Dwight Hendricks is such a complex one. While he’s portrayed as a simple guy, he is in a way, but there’s something more to him, something that makes you root for him and makes you want to know more. Maybe that’s the Clooney influence.
In this week’s episode, Dwight and partner Whitehead are sent to talk to to young boys who were fighting at school. As they talk to the instigator he divulges that he’s having it rough because his dad was taken the night before by terrorists. They initially pass him off as a kid who’s just telling stories, but Dwight sees something in him that makes him realize there’s something more to it than that.
The detectives take the boy home and talk to his mother, Cleo (Juliette Lewis) who explains her husband is a truck driver and is out on the road, and last night they were arguing about the bills, and she had said the bill collectors were terrorizing them. That must be where her son got that idea. The detectives thank her and leave, and just as I was thinking I didn’t completely believe Cleo, it seems Dwight feels the same way.
Dwight is just never willing to give up until he’s completely satisfied. Once this turns into a full-blown case, he still has it in the back of his mind. He still doesn’t approve of his mom dating the next door neighbor, but tries to do the right thing and take them out to dinner. While the two of them are getting giddy about the thought of going away together, the eyes of Dwight, who is definitely uncomfortable, gloss over and he begins to move the salt and pepper shakers and glasses around on the table and he hits on something, recreating a crime scene.
There’s just something watching Lee’s characterization of Dwight that is so compelling. He’s quirky, yet warm at the same time. You automatically believe everything he says. It’s not a fast-moving detective show, yet it somehow pulls you in like it is. Added to that for this episode is the always brilliant Lewis who we never see enough of. Kudos to Memphis Beat for utilizing her talents in just the right way. I can’t imagine anyone else playing her character.
Watch Memphis Beat June 29 on TNT.