Saturday, June 26, 2010

Memphis Beat

I've never been to Memphis but Memphis Beat pulsates with so much sultry atmosphere, Southern charm, and undeniable music that it makes a visit to the city something I need to put on my bucket list.

The last time I saw Jason Lee he was shambling charmingly as the titular character in My Name is Earl (a show I didn't exactly love but which always provided a welcoming diversion on those NBC Thursday nights that I tuned in) and here he still exudes easy Southern charm as Dwight Hendricks, a police detective who is a true son of the city with a passionate love of both justice and the colorful citizens of the town as well as a passionate love of the blues and rock and roll pulsating at the heart of Memphis.

He is ably backed up by a strong cast including the always amazing Alfre Woodard (see below) as his boss Lt. Rice (Woodard deftly sidesteps the hard-bitten police supervisor cliches with equal measures of steel and willing to face down an armed suspect as she is to admit when she's wrong), DJ Qualls as an eager beaver uniformed cop, Sam Hennings as Hendricks' salty, sardonic partner, and Celia Weston as Dwight's adorably lively mother (who, much to Dwight's chagrin, is embarking on a new love affair with a smarmy carpetbagger.)

The first two episodes (the second episode..."Baby Let's Play House" with a fine guest turn by Juliette Lewis... airs Tuesday night on TNT) are full of quirky characters, human drama, bursts of action, some very fine music, great locations and backgrounds, and gentle hopes that they continue to build on that.

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