Memphis Beat Second Season Premiere

| June 7, 2011

Memphis Beat is a Memphis-set police drama starring Jason Lee as Southern gentleman police detective Dwight Hendricks. The show costars Sam Hennings as Dwight’s partner, Alfre Woodard as the reigning police lieutenant and DJ Qualls as a newbee officer.
The first episode of the second season (premiering June 14th at 9/8C on TNT) kicks off with the discovery of a dead cop. Dwight takes special interest in this case and the cop’s young son, since his father, also a Memphis police officer, died when he was a boy. On the way to solving the case, there’s a little romance, a little singing, and even a possible tie to white supremacists.
Can I just ask what happened to Jason Lee? At the mention of his name, I become excited thinking, “I like Jason Lee” and I’m usually disappointed when instead of getting Brodie “Would You Like a Chocolate-covered Pretzel” Bruce from the cult classic Mallrats, I get a squeakquel.
This is the second season so it clearly has some kind of following. I can see why some people would like it. The acting is rock solid from every person on screen, no matter how small the role. The Memphis setting with its bar-b-que and twangy music has a familiar, warm, fuzzy feel to it. But, bottom line, Memphis Beat lacks bite.
Other shows do crime drama much better. As Americans, I like to think we love our renegade cops that play by their own rules but ultimately get the job done: Eliot Stabler ( Law & Order: SVU), Andy Sipowicz (NYPD Blue), Vic Mackey (The Shield), Jimmy McNulty (The Wire), and so many more. Let’s be honest here, you check under your bed for those guys every night before you can go to sleep. Henricks really poses no threat. The most daring or menacing you’ll get from him is perhaps a “Yo Mama” joke.
If I can’t have my TV cops as door-busting rebels, can they at least be funny? I was hoping Dwight Henricks would be the Southern answer to Psych‘s silly, wisecracking but extremely intelligent Shawn Spencer. Alas, I got no more reaction than perhaps a twitch of the diaphragm. The rest of the cast play deeply real characters, but this is TV we’re talking about here – we’re looking for entertainment, not realism. I want to feel tension. I want to laugh. I want characters that I aspire to be like (or hate). I don’t want real; I want a better reality: bolder characters, higher stakes, a faster pace. Though I feel the cast and crew sculpt thoughtful characters and images, they are sculpting with sand that easily gets washed away in the tides of stronger programming.
I do think the show has been and can continue to be successful, but just not with viewers like me. If other television programming is too edgy, rough, bold or offensive for you, (or if you’re on blood pressure medication), you may enjoy it very much.

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