Memphis Beat: Elvis is Back in the Building

Jason Lee probably hates me because I’m one of those people who thinks of him as that guy from My Name is Earl and as such, I have trouble seeing him in anything else. Or, I thought I did. Who knew Jason Lee could do drama, let alone get me to care about his world in under an hour, but it happened.

Memphis Beat is another new cop drama from TNT and the hook here is the locale. This is one of those shows with a distinctive style, from the color saturation to the classic bluesy soundtrack. There’s a lazy, laid back Southern vibe to the series that makes it very different from the quick-cut, first-person shooter style that has become popular in cop shows.

Laid back doesn’t mean boring, Memphis Beat is compelling from the first beat because it’s more about the people than the story. The characters start off a little cliché, there’s Lee’s Dwight Hendricks, a brilliant, compassionate detective who insists on doing things his own way. There’s a Barney Fife patrolman who gets caught tripping over his own enthusiasm and the stereotypical new lady LT (Alfre Woodard) who slams Lee’s methods with a firm, “mama’s home.”

Luckily, the characters settle down by the end of the show and the sharp cliché edges soften making them much more likeable and accessible.

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