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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Memphis Beat premieres tonight

     I am quite fond of Jason Lee.  I loved him in all of the Kevin Smith movies and I was happy for him when he got the title role in My Name Is Earl, though I'm still a bit bitter the show didn't get a proper finale after four seasons.  I celebrate his successes and feel bad when he doesn't do so well.  After watching the first episode of his new show for TNT, Memphis Beat, I am not sure whether to be happy or sad for him.  It's good that he's headlining another cast, and cop shows do pretty well on television.  As far as cop shows go, it's decent.  But it's mostly just a serial crime show, or so it appears from the first episode, and his talent goes beyond such drivel.  Sure, there's a Memphis charm, good music, and he gets to sing in the pilot, "That's Alright, Mama".  It was enough for my to set my TiVo to record the second episode next week, but far short of earning a season pass.

     Other things Memphis Beat have going for it include a couple of the supporting cast.  Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives, The Family That Preys, True Blood) is his new boss, Lt. Tanya Rice, who is bringing a motherly quality to the M.P.D., although a brief scene with her calling her daughter proves that she isn't as good a child rearer as she pretends to be.  I love Abraham Benrubi (ER, Men in Trees), but although his name was in the opening credits, he had scant seconds of screen time in the pilot.  The other actors in the show were not memorable, at least in the first episode.

     TNT already has a few crime-based dramas, and they do pretty well on the network.  Memphis Beat will certainly add to that portfolio.  I just wish it had dared to go a little further, like Justified.  Shows in this genre are better if they are about the characters, more than the crimes.  This series has a hint of character drama, mostly in the annoying, uninspired scenes between Dwight (Lee) and his mother, Paula Ann (Celia Weston).  On a side note, will television shows please quite tossing in the mother, as if that makes up for their serial nature?  Although it sometimes work, it's a tired premise, and often doesn't.  It certainly does not here.

     Memphis Blue premieres tonight at 10pm on TNT.

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