'Memphis Beat' Preview: Jason Lee's Got the Blues
by Chris Harnick, posted Jun 22nd 2010 12:00AM
Welcome back, Jason Lee! After 'My Name Is Earl' faded away in 2009, Lee disappeared from TV sets to go play with Alvin, Simon and Theodore in the 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' movie, but now he's back on TV. He hasn't come back empty-handed, this time Lee has a badge.
'Memphis Beat' follows Lee as Detective Dwight Hendricks, a cop with close relationships with his mother and his city. He also happens to have a passion for the blues.
The Memphis Police Department is a boys club complete with a lamp shaped like a naked woman's torso. However, all that changes when Lt. Tanya Rice comes to town.
Played by the superb Alfre Woodard, Lt. Rice acts like the den mother to the team of cops that also includes Sgt. JC Lightfoot (Abraham Benrubi, yes Jerry from 'ER,' but now with braids!), Officer Davey Sutton (DJ Qualls), Hendricks' partner Charlie "Whitehead" White (Sam Hennings) and Detective Reginald Greenback (Leonard Earl Howze).
Celia Weston plays Hendricks' beloved mama, Paula Ann. But, rounding out the cast in a huge way is the city of Memphis. It and its heritage is as much a character as the credited cast.
Hendricks and his relationships with three women: his mother, Lt. Rice and his city, are the key to this show. The first episode introduces Lt. Rice to the MPD and she quickly shares her new ways of doing things: computers, daily status reports and the removal of the boob lamp shake up the squad. However, she also quickly asserts herself as the mother of the group, Hendricks' mom away from home. It's clear Hendricks won't be a sleazy lady-loving cop, but there are hints of a fractured relationship with an unnamed woman.
Whitehead and Hendricks are assigned to help an addled elderly woman find her way back home, but the case quickly spirals into something quite bigger, especially after Hendricks realizes who she is.
Like a typical TNT cop drama, this show is as much about the characters as it is about the police work. The first episode is primarily focused on Lee's character, but with such a diverse and seasoned supporting cast, the seeds have been planted for a lot of great character moments.
Tell us: Are you excited for 'Memphis Beat'?