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MEMPHIS BEAT Series Premiere Preview

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MEMPHIS BEAT Series Premiere Preview

Memphis Beat on TNT

There are two types of police procedurals – the kind that focus on the cases (the CSIs, LAW & ORDERs) and those that use the cases to advance character development (BONES, MONK). MEMPHIS BEAT is aiming for the latter category as TNT’s latest quirky crime-fighters make their debut.

  By : TAMARA BROOKS

There are two types of police procedurals – the kind that focus on the cases (the CSIs, LAW & ORDERs) and those that use the cases to advance character development (BONES, MONK). MEMPHIS BEAT is aiming for the latter category as TNT’s latest quirky crime-fighters make their debut.

Jason Lee heads the cast as Dt. Dwight Hendricks, a part-time Elvis impersonator and clearly the guy people look to for leadership in the police department. This causes the primary conflict in the pilot as it’s Lt. Tanya Rice’s (Alfre Woodard) first week as boss and Hendricks doesn’t take well to the change initially.

Memphis Beat on TNT

There’s something about the character of Hendricks that is both likable and smarmy, an interesting combination. The pilot does a pretty good job at sneaking in most of his back-story both by exposition and behavior, thanks to a childhood hero being the subject of the case. The whole Elvis impersonator thing…it capped off the intro episode nicely but I hope it’s used very sparingly. It could get very old very quickly.

Woodard plays Lt. Rice with all the skill I’ve come to expect. For me, the underlying intention or motivation of the things she did or said, especially when dealing with Hendricks, was very clear. She and Lee have great chemistry and the cast as a whole is solid. DJ Qualls gets the most play as Officer Sutton, who’s well meaning but not exactly the brightest bulb. Sam Hennings portrays Hendricks’ partner Charlie “Whitehead” White. He’s doesn’t get a lot to do in the pilot but I can sense he’ll be pretty invaluable as the show goes on. His shining moment comes during an exchange with Hendricks while on stakeout. Also, I have to give a special mention to Abraham Benrubi (ER, HAPPY TOWN, MEN IN TREES, PARKER LEWIS CAN’T LOSE) who was only in about 10 seconds of the show so far but I’m already intrigued by his long, braided hair.

Will MEMPHIS BEAT be a breakout hit? Probably not immediately but there’s long-term potential there. The southern-fried vibe of the show helps differentiate it from a crowded cop slate and it could be fun to do a crossover with THE CLOSER (Brenda Leigh Johnson and Lt. Rice could have a history…you never know). If the characters are interesting or likable enough and they can keep the cases fresh, people will watch it. Because people love cop shows. Just ask CBS.

MEMPHIS BEAT airs Tuesdays at 10/9pmC on TNT

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