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October 25, 2014

'Memphis Beat' - 'Love Me Tender' Recap

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 7th 2010 7:10AM
Memphis Beat(S01E03) "Just because I'm in beauty pageants doesn't mean I'm vain, superficial, or snide. You suffer from a lack of imagination, detective." - Pageant contestant

'Memphis Beat' is like a Bizarro World version of 'My Name Is Earl.' They're both set in the south, Dwight is a smart, serious version of Earl, and even his ex-wife is like a nicer, classier version of his ex from that show. Maybe that's a superficial comparison but it sticks out nonetheless.

Actually, it's like a lot of shows. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not necessarily a good thing either. As we see more and more episodes of 'Memphis Beat' it seems more and more like just a routine show.

Maybe I was expecting a different type of show, but I want 'Memphis Beat' to be moodier, darker, a show that dwells more on the dark side of Dwight, on the supporting cast a bit more, something that incorporates the music to create something more emotional and effective. We've had moments here and there in the first few episodes (like the ending of tonight's episode with the couple), but too many times the routine overwhelms the special.

Take tonight's episode, for example. A beauty pageant contestant goes missing and Dwight and Charlie investigate. What could have been an interesting look at the world of beauty pageants is actually just a by-the-numbers case, even if it is populated by funky characters like dog-loving make-up artists, bikers and creepy pageant officials. It's as if the writers have this fun setting for the plot but don't go to all of the places they could go to, so it just turns out to be Dwight and Charlie (and the other members of the police) going from place to place, talking to witnesses and investigating. Just like every other cop show on TV. They have the cast and the setting and the ideas, but the execution is either routine or goofy.

I mean, really, a pep talk for the beauty pageant contestants from the chief of police? Too many "quirky" scenes like that. Quirk for the sake of quirk.

You know a show is on the wrong track when, as a viewer, you begin to get antsy in your seat and start sighing a lot. Or maybe it's just this 90-degree-at-10:30PM weather making me think this way. ... Nah, it's the show.

'Memphis Beat' is one of those shows that isn't terrible (not at all), but also isn't as clever and daring as you thought it was going to be. At the same time, it has enough goodies to make you want to tune in and see what they have this week. But I can also picture myself getting bored with the show at some point. There are only so many brain cells I have that I want to dedicate to routine cop shows (even if it does have accents and Elvis).

The show needs a little more ... something. If I can make a few suggestions? Make the show just a bit less quirky and goofy, up the music content, dwell on Dwight's back story a bit more (beyond having sex with his ex), and give more time to the supporting characters (apart from Alfre Woodard, who is in it just enough). If there's not going to be more meat to this show I can't imagine being interested enough to watch a second season.

More thoughts:

• One of my least favorite scenes: The security camera footage. It's one of those TV things I can't stand, security camera footage that looks too neat, too clear. Like it was directed by somebody.

• One of my favorite scenes was D.J. Qualls (Davey Sutton) reading the text message from the phone. "Aggravated face."

• I hate it when people bring up fairly recent events (well, recent to me anyway) like the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan skating scandal and say, "You're probably too young to remember this ... " Sometimes I feel so old.

Christian Clemenson should guest star on 'Burn Notice.' I'd like to see him paired with Bruce Campbell again. He plays the nervous odd guy so well I can picture him as a client of Michael Westen.

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Barbara Mize

Well, I think the show is great. At least a detective show you can follow. Jason Lee and all the cast is perfect. The music is wonderful. Does Jason Lee do the music himself?

July 11 2010 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim

I have only watched one episode, and maybe I'm just not a cop drama fan (it took Jason Lee to make me tune in), but I thought it seemed very generic indeed. Going from place to place, having the case all figured out except ONE THING, and then the standard case-solving epiphany. Maybe it'll get better?

July 07 2010 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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