Memphis Beat, June 22 On TNT

| June 21, 2010

When you think of Memphis you think of country music rooted in the blues and Elvis Presley. TNT is premiering a new detective series on June 22 that firmly plants its foot in that same music scene. From the storyline of the pilot all the way to the detective’s hobby.
Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) plays his music at night via the Memphis club scene, and by day he’s a detective who has a very unique style, but this guy certainly knows his stuff. He doesn’t take his hometown for granted and honors it every chance he gets. He gets a new boss, Lt. Tanya Rice (Alfre Woodard), and they clash from the beginning. He’s used to doing it his way, but she wants it her way, comparing herself to his mother, but he already has a mother (Celia Weston) who he keeps close watch over. Watch the “lamp” to find out how they eventually reach a compromise.
In the series premiere, Dwight is originally dismayed to be assigned the case of an elderly woman who doesn’t speak. He needs to find out who she is and where she belongs. It isn’t long before he realizes she’s the “First Lady of the Airwaves,” a local DJ he grew up listening to, and he is then so rooted in the case you couldn’t rip him away if you tried, and Lt. Rice does. Once Dwight tracks down where the elderly woman lives, he’s dismayed to find deplorable living conditions. The search then becomes finding just who it was that did something to this woman who was once very revered in the community.
This storyline fits in with the tagline they have created for Dwight as “the keeper of Memphis.” He certainly seems like he’s doing just that, as well as being the keeper of his mother, as he objects to her new suitor in this episode. Yet he’s also just wisecracking enough. Not too much, but enough to tell his protege (DJ Qualls) who has just watched their suspect put his hands up and lose his pants and underwear to the floor that he can frisk him. Car fanatics will notice that in the promos for Memphis Beat, Jason Lee hgas an Impala, but in the actual series, he’s driving a GTO. What gives? Did something happen to the Impala and they couldn’t find another, or did they decide the character was more a GTO guy than Impala?
The series had a very interesting pace, and it reminded me of being in the south. It wasn’t a quick-paced shoot-em-up, but just very easygoing, helped along by the blues music playing in the background and the personality of Jason Lee.  What more can you expect from a man known mostly for being a guardian to chipmunks and as a a guy named Earl?
The one thing I looked for in this series and didn’t find was George Clooney’s stamp on it. Clooney is credited as one of the executive producers, and while I don’t know exactly what I was looking for, I also know I didn’t find it. He’s a guy that is so well-known, that I would expect to see something to say “Ah, that’s definitely Clooney.” Kind of like what we see in Ashton Kutcher produced series. I see something examining the social structure and behavior of people, and I know it came from him. That’s the only thing I did not find here, but wished I did.
You can catch the series premiere of Memphis Beat on TNT On June 22.

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